Diversity and the MBA program | TopMBA.com

Diversity and the MBA program

By Pavel Kantorek

Updated August 12, 2016 Updated August 12, 2016


 This article is sponsored by Amsterdam Business School.

 Learn more about its MBA program.

How can diversity in the classroom affect what you get out of your MBA program? Kivanc Ozuolmez and Frances Carley, both MBA students at the University of Amsterdam, share their opinions about why diversity in the MBA program matters and how it has helped shape their experiences so far.

How diversity in the classroom can enhance your MBA experience

Diversity in the classroom can provide an excellent backdrop for a dynamic learning curve as students from different nationalities come together.

“I’m a firm believer that the students in a classroom can be as much of a resource and learning opportunity as the professor, readings, and assignments,” says Carley, who believes that hearing from her fellow classmates, who come from all over the world and from different industries, creates countless additional learning opportunities for her.

Ozuolmez believes that his way of thinking has changed through his interactions in the classroom: “In my first months in the program, it was quite surprising how many ‘oh, I never thought about it that way’ moments I had. Soon, I started to welcome these different approaches, and then developed a new thinking style on different aspects of the business world rather than only using my logical engineer mindset. Looking back, the new thinking style I developed is mainly a result of the diversity in the classroom,” he says.

How diversity activities in the classroom can benefit students

Interaction through diversity activities can help students understand and challenge both their own and other’s perspectives in both business and culture.

“In many classes, apart from the literature provided, students contribute by bringing examples from their home countries, industries and their own experiences. This makes classes and group work a great setup to observe how people from diverse backgrounds can work together, and contribute to each other’s goals,” says Ozuolmez.

“Each class, ranging in focus from finance to strategy to marketing, gives students the opportunity to come at [the problem] from an international angle. This means focusing on cases of multinationals throughout the program. We might discuss the strategic implications of marketing a product in a different culture or considering the financial accounting concerns that would arise should a company expand to a new geographical area,” says Carley.

Of course, diversity can’t just be entirely left to the students. The curriculum must also take it into account. For example, predominantly “Western” literature can lead to a narrow focus.

This may have been the traditional paradigm, but things are changing says Ozuolmez: “In the Amsterdam MBA program, the curriculum and activities address a cross-cultural perspective that goes beyond geography and facilitates a wider thinking style.”

Why factor in diversity when choosing an MBA program?

An MBA program that offers you a diverse classroom as a backdrop for your career pursuits  ought to be an important factor in your MBA search.

“As an American with international career aspirations, I was wary of an American MBA program that would have a more domestic focus. I valued the Amsterdam MBA’s exposure to both diverse students and also international business issues,” says Carley.

Ozuolmez reveals that his aim while looking for an MBA program was to learn how others do business. “So diversity on career backgrounds, career levels, culture and age variety were important aspects of my business school search process,” he says.

How the right MBA program can train you for workplace diversity

As workplace diversity becomes more important in businesses and teams around? the globe, it would be a good idea to ensure that you’re building the required skills right from the start of your course.

“In my job now, I can discuss almost anything with my colleagues from very different departments, value their ideas, or understand their issues, [which is] something I learned in the classroom. This helps foster workplace diversity and allows me to develop deeper connections with the wider business group, and greatly helps my career growth,” says Ozuolmez.

Carley adds that it is not uncommon in the classroom to have a group project with four members, each of who comes from a different continent, and this is; the kind of diversity she feels will help her in the future. “While this can be challenging, as different cultural norms, communication styles and expectations are sometimes evident, it will undoubtedly prove to have been a valuable learning experience throughout my career.”

This article is sponsored by Amsterdam Business School.

This article was originally published in May 2016 . It was last updated in August 2016

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Written by

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.


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