Mark Smelik, Associate Dean for the bachelor programs at IE Business School, explains key developments of the BBA program and why it is in constant evolution.
Marc Smelik is the Associate Dean for the bachelor programs at IE Business School. IE Business School is an international business school, well-known for its innovation and its dynamic nature in developing new programs like the Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA). In this interview, Marc Smelik explains key developments of the BBA program and why it is in constant evolution.
What is the Bachelor in Business Administration?
The Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) at IE University is an innovative program that focuses the learning for all our bachelor students in business on the world of work and, in particular, how they’re going to use all the skills and knowledge that they gain here at IE University for the world of work of the future. We know that jobs are going to change, we know that the industries in which they’re going to work in are also going to change very rapidly. It’s important for our students to understand this and also to really appreciate how they’re going to use those skills and push the change, not just live with it.
Why is this program unique?
The BBA program is unique for three key reasons. The first reason is that we focus on the practical, not just on the theoretical. You get a good grounding in the subjects that you study, but at the same time, you’re going to be working with companies and with people from the industry to really implement and understand how this works in practice. This is extremely important for us and our students in the future, because the world of work needs people who can adapt, but also can apply all the things that they learn.
The second part is that we are the most international BBA in the world. We have more than 130 nationalities represented on our campus and when you come to our program, you’re going to be working in multicultural, multinational teams. This will give you an enormous amount of skills and insight into how you’re going to work in multinational companies or across borders when you graduate from our program.
And the third one is that we have a very specific structure to the program, which is really underpinned by the professors that we have. So, we have professors from many different industries who come in and teach on our program so that they bring the world of practice into a very clear structure for the BBA, and that structure is designed for the future, it is not something from the past.
What is the structure of the program?
The structure of the BBA is unique and very special in the world of bachelor programs in business. We actually structure our program as an individual, personal learning journey. So, you’ll come to IE University to shape your program in the way that you want. But, at the same time, we have a fundamental structure which comprises three key components.
What are the fundamental courses?
The fundamental courses that you do at IE University provide the foundation; the basis of your knowledge and your credibility as well in the labor market in the future. When you do a business degree you must understand the principles of marketing, finance, accounting, HR, and strategy. And these courses are built into all the years of the BBA. We will stagger these courses in a way that makes sense so that you will learn about basics to start with and you build your knowledge as you go along in the courses. Again, it’s about the learning journey that you go through. And everyone, wherever they come from; from different backgrounds, different schooling systems, and different nationalities; will go through this process of understanding the fundamentals.
What are the broadening options?
By introducing the broadening options into the BBA, we’re actually living up to the values that we find so important as a university and as an institution. The world of business doesn’t operate in isolation. Society is changing, people have opinions, populations and cultures have an impact on how business is conducted in different markets and, so, our students need to understand what the major trends are and how they actually use the knowledge from different fields and disciplines. Our broadening components give the knowledge to our students, and the insight on how to apply this in the world of business. In particular, we are interested in components of humanities, so we look at philosophy, we look at history, we look at communication, in particular, skills on understanding how anthropology and sociology impact the world of business.
And the second part that is very important is technology. Our program already includes programming, coding and data analytics. But how you use data and what impact it has on society, and how it changes the business models is something that is absolutely essential for success in the future. And we believe that our BBA, with those broadening components, including entrepreneurship as well, will give our students a head-start over other graduates when they come out of the program, and have a real impact in business.
What are the practical courses?
The BBA believes very strongly that, ultimately, your success is determined by how you can execute and how you can implement ideas: not just about what you know. So, we give you knowledge, but what we really find very important, and we measure and we monitor as well in every single student, is how you develop the skills that allow you to execute projects, business plans, change processes in companies on an international scale. So, when we talk about this, we really think that the practical components need to give you an experience while you’re at the course, in a safe environment, to implement what you learn in the fundamental courses. We do this in entrepreneurship, where you understand the basics of entrepreneurship through the course and then you actually implement a business plan. Everyone has to do this in teams so that we all understand what it takes to write a business plan but also execute some of it. At the same time, we look at marketing in a very practical way through a marketing practical where you have to create a marketing plan, and we also look at technology in a number of different ways where you have to practice, including coding, what it means to create a business on the basis of technology.
Who should study the BBA?
The perfect candidate for the BBA program has a number of attributes, and particularly the kind of attitude to learning and to what they want to do in the world. We know that the world is changing very fast, in many different markets and in different parts of the world, and so, our students who come here are hungry to understand this international connection and this framework of global business.
For us, the BBA student of the future will be a student who is very ambitious, who wants to change things in the world, who has an attitude that is not just about consuming knowledge, but really is about using that knowledge in a very practical way, and go into businesses and knowing how to work in teams, understanding how to create the change, and being hungry to see a world of the future, and the world of work, that is definitely going to be different from what it is now.