The Tech MBA That’s Taking Over Traditional MBAs

The Tech MBA That’s Taking Over Traditional MBAs main image

Sponsored by IE Business School

In the last few years, the demand for MBA graduates with a robust knowledge in technology has increased dramatically, spurred on by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), fintech and robotics.

Such industry demand has paved the way for business schools around the world to develop technology-centered MBAs which offer several specialized tech tracks such as technology leadership, emerging technologies, and technology immersion.

Tech MBAs have grown massively in popularity in recent years – especially among US business schools. European schools have taken longer to embrace them, however. The Tech MBA at IE Business School in Madrid is the first of its kind in Europe and is launching in September 2020.

We spoke with Professor José Esteves, program director of the new Tech MBA to find out more about how the Tech MBA differs from the traditional MBA, who it’s for, and why it should be considered an essential element of business school education.

The motivation behind the Tech MBA

Tech companies are some of the biggest employers of MBA graduates. Considering one fifth of IE Business School’s International MBA graduates have gone on to work for some of the world’s largest tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a growing number of MBA graduates are enticed by the sector.

“If you take, for example, the top business schools, most of their MBAs end up working in tech companies, which is now the market that is demanding more of this kind of MBA,” says Professor Esteves.

So, what are business schools doing to ensure students are offered the best education and industry knowledge to help get them where they want to be? 

“We tried to identify why students and recruiters were asking us about having more tech skills, as students were trying to apply to tech companies and tech-centric companies and so on,” says Professor Estavas who has 30 years’ worth of technology industry experience.

“We saw an opportunity there and so we decided to investigate in terms of markets what we could do.”

The statistics speak for themselves. Within the next year, 100,000 new data-related jobs will be created within the EU, and for every year since 2010, 200,000 new tech-related jobs have been created in the US alone.

The rise and demand of tech ecosystems, culture and services

There are, however, more alarming statistics which indicate 4.3 million digital workers will be missing in high-tech and telecommunications by 2030 and a further 10.7 million tech workers will be missing in Fintech and BFIS by the same year.

“This could create a loss of around one trillion dollars if we cannot fulfil all these tech jobs,” warns Professor Esteves.

The rise of tech ecosystems, tech talent demand, tech culture, and use of tech services were identified by the team who developed the Tech MBA in the hope that students will develop the knowledge and skillset needed to meet the demands of business and tech.

As of October this year, the top companies by market capitalization are Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook – and they’re all tech powerhouses. The dominance of such tech ecosystems sees the creation of many new job roles that are related to digital transformation – roles such as digital officers, data officers, and transformation officers.

The use of tech services and products have also blown up within the last decade, and can be seen in the excessive use of mobile phones, and social media – especially where new markets such as startups are popping up.

All of this inevitably drives tech talent demand, where the increased usage and adoption of technology is seeing the need for tech-related jobs and people, as Professor Esteves explains: “The tech sector has its own culture, leadership style, even business models and so on.

“And so this is what many companies are trying to do – they are trying to copy the cultural and innovation approach and even the business models that tech companies have.

“They’re trying to imitate, in a certain way, the success of companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and so on.

“That means the tech sector by itself has its own way of operating, which is why we felt the traditional MBA wouldn’t work with the specializations in tech.

“What we did was totally focus the whole MBA on the tech sector,” he says.

A tech-inspired curriculum

The Tech MBA is a reflection of the shift in growing demand for business leaders who can upskill and also be digital leaders where they apply their tech expertise within a business context.

“It’s [the Tech MBA] still an MBA with a general management perspective, but a general management perspective for tech and tech-centric related companies,” says Professor Esteves.

Professor Esteves and his team redesigned the core of the traditional MBA around the needs of the tech sector. It focuses on digital finance, data analytics and AI, as well as digital transformation. 

“We created a whole block related to tech emotion which means students will learn about technical systems where they study programming, database management, data analytics, tech engineering, and cyber security,” says Professor Esteves.

“Students are also going to study business strategy, but they will be analyzing the main strategy of top tech companies, like Amazon, Google, and other tech-centric companies, such as startups which are considered digital masters.

“We’re still going to have economics but there’s going to be a strong emphasis on the digital economy. Operations are going to still focus on supply chain but with a focus on e-commerce companies. We’re revolutionizing the way logistics and supply chain are managed.”

The Tech MBA at IE Business School is designed for those who come from strong STEM backgrounds and demonstrate a genuine passion for tech and desire to work within the tech sector.

In a world where digital technologies are constantly evolving and continuing to have a dramatic impact on the everyday workings of the world, it’s important there’s an appreciation for it and an understanding of how it affects the inner workings of business.

“We still have tech industries and companies who need managers who know how to do general management,” says Professor Esteves.

“Even if it’s tech related, they need to have more advanced knowledge about tech and tech skills because it’s still the core of the business’s technology.

“They still need to know about marketing, entrepreneurship, innovation, leading people. The whole industry is about managing technical people – it’s a sophisticated structure.

“So, it’s important as leaders to know everything about the different business parts of the company and industry.”

Lead image credit: Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

Written by Stephanie Lukins

As the sponsored content writer for TopMBA.com and TopUniversities.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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