To date, the number of entrepreneurs with MBA diploma in Kazakhstan business environment is relatively small. The persistent deficit of time and an out-of-date model forced to postpone studying "for later", thus losing time and opportunity for the introduction of modern instruments which are successfully used in the world. The director of Astana School of Management and Business (ASMB), official partner of SBS Swiss Business School in Astana, Alexey Rau tells in an exclusive interview with “Expert” magazine how to choose the right business school with an effective training.
- When did your school open?
- The first admission of students for Master's program took place a year ago, with a year and a half duration of study. This year in August, 24 of our students have passed academic module in the main building of our business school in Zurich, Switzerland. The training includes both academic lectures and practical exercises with excursions to production sites. Our students were fortunate enough to see the internal work of the largest bank in Switzerland, as well as to visit the production plant of high-speed trains.
- Do you provide universal, global course or is there some adaptation to Kazakhstan?
- Our model of education, training and MBA program is adapted to the local market. All training takes place in Russian language. Of course, if someone wants to get an education in English, we will provide such an opportunity. But Kazakhstan is not an English-speaking country, we don’t have many people speaking English, especially the older generation.
- Who are the lecturers?
- Five teachers out of 15 subjects are from Switzerland, five from Moscow, one from Riga, four from Kazakhstan. Most of them are successful and very wealthy people who own their own businesses. Just in August, we visited teacher in Switzerland with the students – he is a rich man by European standards, Financial Adviser. He taught our students for a week how to behave after the devaluation in Kazakhstan. The relevance of the subject is over-the-top. Switzerland let go its franc to float freely twice for ten years. It was very useful and interesting even just to chat with him in an informal atmosphere. In our business school we focus on that we learn to make money, and it is desirable to learn from the rich people.
Virtually, business angels
- What makes you different conceptually from other Kazakhstan schools?
- ASMB model is fundamentally different from all others. Our goal besides training is to provide our students with consulting services. In practice it looks in the following way. The company directs us its professionals for the training. They passes through MBA-program with a clear focus on a task or project of the company, which it is preparing to implement. Any training should work for achievement of the organization’s goals. Also young people come to us who opened or want to start their own businesses. They understand that you cannot go anywhere without the knowledge. Now it is time of educated businessmen; knowledge is everything.
Large companies such as "Samruk-Energo", "Kazzinc», Allur Group send their professionals to us for studying. We teach Andrey Lavrentyev, Maya Bekbaeva has recently joined us. Different people come to us both the rich, and those who borrow money for studying. Our business has been built on the image and reputation. The heterogeneity of our students is our asset that works for us and for the benefit of the students themselves.
We are open to do business both with students and with the teachers, that is, in practice, to consolidate and develop the theoretical material. In particular, now we are launching a consulting project with a terrific teacher, PhD from Moscow. His company is the most authoritative in the field of HR in Russia. In particular, they were responsible for the selection of personnel for the Sochi Olympic Games and assessed the competences of volunteers and other staff. It is very interesting to gain experience in collaborative work with such professionals.
Our goal is to provide not only theoretical knowledge, but rather practical to make this knowledge working for the person today and tomorrow. The fact is that in present information age, the theory is rapidly changing. Even the classic books on management theory are treated differently. Theoretical knowledge is better to analyze and display on current case studies. And even better - to engage the student in the process, for the purpose he can use on practice the acquired knowledge in his/her company or business.
- Today many educational institutions offer MBA ...
- Competition in the market has grown strongly. Today, there are a lot of different MBA programs. Our unique advantage is Swiss Diploma. A student doesn’t have to go anywhere. This is a serious problem for many people. The case is not only the cost of training, which in Switzerland is several times higher taking into account the transportation and other costs. The case is that many entrepreneurs simply do not have time for such a long training trip. Now they have the opportunity to study in Astana business school, which complies with international standards and issues certificates recognized worldwide. Our education is built on a system where you need to attend classes three days a month. At the same time students will receive their diploma in Switzerland, along with all the graduates of the SBS.
According to CEO Magazine, SBS is included in the list of 100 best business schools in the world for the last five years and is the most innovative business school in Europe.
- What programs do you have?
- We offer an MBA with specialization in "International Management" aimed at middle managers and the Executive MBA for top managers and business owners. Our MBA program has a number of accreditations and is included in the list of the best educational business programs in the world according to the Financial Times. We also plan to start admission of students for DBA program in 2016.
Moreover, there is an individual approach to each student in ASMB. That is, we try to help in solving their problems on practice, give them the proper knowledge. Besides training, we try to open business prospects for them, acquainting them with the necessary people: successful businessmen, investors, financiers, and so on. We even help them to find a job in an international company.
- Does the head office control the learning process and the issuance of diplomas?
- Of course, since these processes are strictly observed by American and Swiss councils which accredited business school.
- In what proportions theory and practice are given?
- It is difficult to calculate, because we have a lot of activities with exclusively practical orientation. For example, visits to companies both Kazakh and Swiss. That is, students can observe how such things as operations management, marketing, HR work in the real business.
In ASMB special emphasis is placed on development of business ethics. It is explained why it is profitable to work honestly. In this perspective, we studied BP's case, when they had an accident, resulting in a huge volume of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, they had to decide on the replacement of the spare part on a huge installation. But they chose the option which saved them one working day and 10 million dollars. In the end the company has lost more than 30 billion dollars at the moment in the form of all the possible fines and compensations to the victims of the accident. We focus more on international practice. We have plans to develop national cases. But it is hard for school to do it alone, because it is a huge job. In this case it is necessary not only to analyze the success stories of Kazakh companies; it is desirable to involve them personally. In this regard, there is a discussion on the establishment of the association of business schools.
For our part, we want to raise leaders out of entrepreneurs, who will be an example for others. In turn, businessmen are advised not to hesitate to learn from the experience of the best ones.