Why it’s important to attend a business school with a strong focus on practical learning | Top Universities

Why it’s important to attend a business school with a strong focus on practical learning

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Aisha Khan

Updated Jul 28, 2023




Gaining practical experience during your studies is an important consideration when deciding which business school to attend.  

Hult International Business School recently redesigned their Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a key maxim in mind – in order to master a skill, it must be practised.  

To learn more about how this transformation better equips students for their careers, we spoke to Ronan Gruenbaum, Hult’s Global Director of Undergraduate Learning and Development.  

Understanding what employers want 

“One of our core missions is to become the most relevant business school in the world,” Gruenbaum said. 

“For many years, we brought in class speakers and industry projects, and tried to ensure that students were working on real scenarios rather than case studies from five or ten years ago. But we realised that we still weren’t adequately preparing students for the workplace.” 

To learn more about what employers are looking for in graduates, Hult undertook a big research project which involved interviewing CEOs from Fortune 500 companies and input from the MBA redesign in 2014.  

“We discovered that there’s a clear imbalance between the skills employers are looking for and what universities are producing in terms of graduates. Many traditional universities focus on the knowledge aspect, but knowledge is easily accessible these days. 

“We wanted to prepare our students better and meet the needs of employers who are saying higher education is not preparing students for the workplace,” he adds.  

In addition to interviewing companies, they considered pedagogical research into what makes learning stick.  

“The research showed that it’s more effective to interweave different disciplines rather than having them as siloed subjects. 

“We also did a big data approach. We worked with a company who mined millions of job board postings. When we put all that data together and aggregated it, we identified a list of 300 skills that employers are looking for.  

“That data was used to inform the core modules in the curriculum and outline the skills and mindsets we want our students to focus on.” 

Emphasis on practical experience 

Hult Business School

So, what are some of the biggest changes in the revised Bachelor’s in Business Administration? 

“The learning is combined into modules where students are focused on a challenge and what they can do to solve it. The challenge could be creating a startup or social enterprise, a particular simulation where they’re emulating real business practises, or it could be working on a live business project. 

“The challenge aspect is important because we know that employers have said they want graduates who can learn on the job.” 

He also notes that the curriculum is designed in a way where they can implement what he labels ‘spaced retrieval practice’.  

“That means we’re getting students to remember small elements throughout the year through repetition and low stakes situations. Research suggests that it’s more effective than exams because they're not panicking or getting anxious, and it helps build those neural connections.” 

Additionally, a new department was built for development coaches to help students work towards their career goals and improve their skillsets. 

“Students are getting used to idea the idea of having a manager in the sense that a good manager will help you develop and grow, identify your weaknesses, applaud your strengths, and push you to improve your skills further – and that’s what our coaches are doing.” 

It’s clear that these changes are having a positive impact as the redesign of the programme won the MERIT award for Innovation in Higher Education in May 2023.  

The importance of embedding sustainability in business education 

At Hult, sustainability and ethics are embedded into every module to ensure students gain a comprehensive understanding.  

“We know that we can’t just teach it as a separate module at the end of the programme, it has to be considered in every aspect of business.  

“So, for example, if you’re learning about supply chain, you have to understand the ethics side of it, such as child labour. If it’s a management module and you’re doing a report on HR implications of opening a company branch in Africa, thinking about fair recruitment processes is important. 

“When I previously worked as a Dean at Hult, I’d often have weekly lunches with students. There’s been numerous times where students have said ‘I wish I’d known that earlier, I had no idea’.  

“These are business students who may not have studied philosophy or ethics beforehand, so it’s really important that these topics are integrated and assessed in every module.” 

Global immersion opportunities 

The student community at Hult is made up of 140 nationalities where no single nationality makes up more than seven percent of the student body.  

“We truly are an international school, and we use that to help our students learn about different cultures and experiences. When students are assigned to group projects, we make sure there are no more than two students from the same country in each team.” 

“They’re in the same team for the first 15 weeks so it’s a great opportunity for them to meet others and understand a diverse range of perspectives.” 

As Hult has campuses in London, Boston, San Francisco and Dubai, students can also take part in the school’s global campus rotation and further expand their international network.  

“Students choose either the London or Boston campus and can rotate to the other home campus each year. They can also study at any of our four campuses for the summer. It’s a very seamless process in terms of registering as we have teams dedicated to providing visa and housing support.”