The Future of Latin American Business Schools in the Post Pandemic Era

October 30, 2020

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Published in General News

Americas Society Council of the Americas (AS/COA) invited four deans from top business schools from Latin America to share their vision for the future and comment on topics such as the education models and the role of the private sector for the business schools in the post-pandemic scenario.

Florida’s International University (FIU) Business School Dean, Joann Li and professor Jerry Haar from the department of International Business of the same institution moderated the panel. The four invited deans were Veneta Andonova, Dean of Universidad de los Andes School of Management (Colombia), Peter Yamakawa, Dean of ESAN Business School (Peru), Alberto Trejos, Dean of INCAE Business School (Costa Rica) and Ignacio de la Vega, Dean of EGADE Business School of Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico).

The first question gravitated towards the future of business schools and the profound tangible impacts of the COVID – 19. Many of the realities in the post-pandemic seem to be the result of long-standing economic, social and technological transformations that has accelerated in the last months.

Dean Yamakawa emphasized that the current situation forced every actor into a survival mode and pushed the education institutions into a deep reassessment of their decisions. He also pondered upon the importance of technology in the adoption of online classes and how this also meant entering into a new domain of challenges and opportunities.

On the question about the dominant type of teaching model (online or hybrid) in the post COVID – 19 period, Dean Andonova argued that there were clear advantages of the online format for certain contexts and purposes. She added that the networking and ‘hands-on’ aspects were two dimensions that represented challenges for the online format and that they had to be reimagined, a venue that Universidad de los Andes School of Management had already undertaken, working in close collaboration with the private sector.

Regarding the private sector’s role in the business schools’ education, Dean de la Vega talked about the relationship between schools and businesses as partnerships and how this vision had changed the educational experience for the students at EGADE Business School.

The discussion continued with insights about curriculum management and the importance of technology for business schools. Dean Trejos commented on how virtual and digital channels had become an essential part of the contemporary education experience, an aspect that triggered more and more hybrid programs in the regional and global markets. 

The final question from the audience was about the ways, in which each school was addressing a perception held by some that the decisions of private businesses were often at odds with the needs and priorities of the society in general. A common vision emerged about the need to see business and management schools and business education as a source of progress, freedom, and economic and social mobility. 

Deanla Vega explained the importance of adapting the paradigms of the great thinkers to the local realities, lived by every Mexican or Latin American citizen. On his behalf, Dean Trejos added that if the schools were educating the future leaders, then the programs had to emphasize business ethics and good governance. Dean Yamakawa commented on the increasing need of rethinking and questioned if enough had been done to guide the students towards a better path for the communities. He talked about the need of an honest introspection about how the schools were influencing the minds of the present and future leaders. Dean Andonova closed with the importance of celebrating diversity in business schools’ classrooms understood as diversity of points of view and student body composition. She commented on the importance of cooperation and respect between the different societal stakeholders and how working together was the best way out of the crisis. 

To conclude, Dean Li expressed her gratitude to the panel participants and advanced an invitation to a proximate new event to further the discussion on the important role that business school had in the post-pandemic era.

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