Empowering yourself in many different ways


Professor Zeger Degraeve, Dean of Melbourne Business School, talks to The City Magazine about the advantages of studying an MBA, advice for prospective students and why Melbourne may be the place for you.​
Professor Zeger Degraeve joined Melbourne Business School in November 2011 as Dean. On 1 May 2013, he also became Dean of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics. A leading expert in decision-making, risk, operations research and managing project portfolios, Professor Degraeve spent 12 years at London Business School. At LBS, he was inaugural Associate Dean of the Executive MBA Program and then Deputy Dean Programs, and a member of the School’s Governing Body. 
What are the advantages of studying an MBA outside of the financial benefits? 
One of the main benefits of doing an MBA is that you are empowering yourself in many different ways – it enables you to take up opportunities that may not have been available to you prior to the MBA. At Melbourne Business School, our MBA students graduate equipped with the knowledge, skills and attributes to become effective leaders anywhere in the world. They have the agility, resilience and critical thinking skills to operate in complex and ever changing environments.
How does a prospective student choose the right course for them?
My advice is to take the time to really evaluate what it is they want from their MBA and see how each school can meet those needs. Assuming that the school you are considering is internationally ranked and accredited, what are the characteristics that are important to you? We are finding that our oneyear program is very attractive to some top-quality students because they can immerse themselves in an intensive year of study and achieve a much faster return on investment than a two-year program. 
Similarly, going to business school is a great opportunity to investigate a school in a completely different part of the world, and live in a different culture before launching yourself into the business arena.
Prospective students should also consider the strength of the cohort experience that they want to have – at MBS, our class size is small enough for you to develop lifelong friendships and not sacrifice the diversity of the learning experience.
What can a student expect from an MBA from the Melbourne Business School?
At Melbourne Business School, we help students to become the global business leader they aspire to be. Our graduates are just as effective in a boardroom in New York as they are in Melbourne. They work in London as easily as in Singapore. Our alumni are working in more than 70 countries around the globe.
Our full-time MBA is a one-year intensive experience designed for maximum impact. In providing a personalised learning experience, we work closely with each student to fully develop their potential. Our method of teaching is strongly focused on leadership development and the encouragement of collaborative learning. We take pride in our small class sizes and high level of diversity, where students can form relationships with people from a wide range of backgrounds. Not only will students learn through lectures, case studies and group work – in finance, strategy, marketing, operations, accounting and others – we will also coach each one individually in personal effectiveness skills – such as communication, negotiation, networking, teamwork, influencing and specific skills coaching. To help develop global business skills, all students participate in a core module – ‘Business in Asia’ where students travel to Shanghai and work on real-world consulting projects for companies looking to investigate the Chinese market.
Another core aspect of our program is getting students to provide consulting services to social entrepreneurs who are pitching to attract seed capital for their business ventures. Our strong relationship with the business community means that our students have opportunities to undertake internships as part of their program, in a variety of organisations in multiple sectors, including banking, health, environment, marketing and the not-forprofit sector.
Throughout the year, and even before commencing classes, our career management team partners with new students to work with them individually to help them develop the strategic plan for their career and to support them with job search strategies and skills. 
And of course, there is Melbourne, and there is no other city quite like it. Voted the most liveable city in the world for the fourth year in a row, it is hard to beat. From the beaches to the food and from art and culture to an array of global sporting events, there is no shortage of activities for students to experience.
Why should employers value job applicants who possess an MBA?
The MBA provides a distinction in the business world for students when compared against all other candidates. An MBA is a highly respected and international qualification that crosses borders and enhances a student’s ability to work in a team and with people from a diverse range of backgrounds. Our graduates will have had real experience in investigating international markets. They will have had the opportunity to hone their skills as an intern. They will all have provided consulting services to real social entrepreneurs. They will have been rigorously prepared for the workplace and be able to achieve immediate impact when hired. 
What tips would you give to a student about to enrol on an MBA course?
Choose your school carefully. Talk to alumni. Be clear about what you want to get out of your MBA. Prepare. Commit yourself to excellence. And enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
This article was published in The City Magazine, October 2014