Nowadays, it has become evident that the tendency of digitalization in education is growing fast and covers every day more grounds than the day before. This influences not only the internal processes of education institutions, but also students’ expectations. In response to the constant changes, the students need to be assured that the skills they acquire during their studies will be useful in any type of situation or crisis. That is why students are mostly inclined to evaluate programs, and especially postgraduate degree programs, by possibilities of direct and clear application of the knowledge and skills gained during the education process. This might be challenging for universities and business schools in current circumstances when the future perspectives in business development are not always clear.
There are several Master programs in IBS-Moscow RANEPA which are dedicated to digital competences development for future entrepreneurs and analysts. “The best way to engage students and make sure that they will benefit from the program is to let them choose their key role in the project and find a mentor from business to support students during the project”, – comments Master program director Prof. Andrey Korshunov. These principals lay behind the design of the joint IBS-Moscow “FinTech” Master program with Sberbank, the leading Russian banking company. It is one of the few programs on the Russian educational market where company representatives participate from the very beginning: from the admission process to face-to-fact working with students until program completion. Most successful students can receive a job offer already in the first year of study. In a VUCA environment, and especially in countries where the economy is developing, the ability to provide students with employment helps to unlock their full potential. In IBS-Moscow, it is believed that inspired and creative students are more likely to come up with new ideas and become successful entrepreneurs or business leaders.
Another way to make students feel secure and up-to-date regarding the job market latest digital trends is to introduce programs dedicated to popular specializations (e.g., big data manager, product owner, etc.), promising the start of a new modern career immediately after graduation. One such specialty is product owners, which in the eyes of many modern students look like superheroes, who have received a complicated technical education, have already launched a couple of startups, upon which immediately attracted big money from the Silicon Valley, while having climbed the Himalayas in their spare time. And all this considering that typical product owners are 25 to 30 years old. These stories inspire students, but also put a lot of pressure onto those who didn't have a technical background.
In IBS-Moscow we introduce this profession in a slightly different way. The big data manager, fintech specialist, and the product owners – are all looked through the IT management lense: while they all require specific skills in IT it is the “management” component, which makes the profession so in-demand. Being firstly a business school, in all of the programs of the institutes the focus is always on management, while IT instruments, International relations knowledge, HR competencies act as contexts, where the great manager can potentially thrive. With that the demystifying of IT and the digitalization occurs: it is no longer a rapidly getting closer danger, but the continuous opening of new possibilities, where both the hard and the soft managerial skills could be applied.
Firmly believing in the value of management education, the business school works hard to share this vision further to the students, alumni, and employees. As the rapid introduction of online-courses by business schools and commercial enterprises oversaturates the education market, this promotes the general feeling of our students, that while attending the classes offered in the business school, they are missing something potentially important from somewhere else. To help them keep and regain their insurance, which they had when choosing our business school, we often integrate online classes from other well-known international business schools. Even though some of those courses could have been held by the school's instructors without quality loss, this translates to the students as the business school being aware of world trends and helping them to keep up with them as well.
We understand that digitalization is often perceived as a massive tidal wave, which leaves many things irrelevant after it passes, and we see our work as motivating Russian business to want to run towards it, not from it and help those, who are afraid to dive by showing them how to surf instead.