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Earning an international reputation: Financial Times’ ranking for best Master’s in Management programme

28.10.2019Comments are closed.

The International Master in Business and Organisation (IMB) programme was featured in 2018 for the first time the prestigious Financial Times’ ranking of the world’s best “Master’s in Management” programmes. The programme was featured also in Financial Times’ ranking of the world’s best “Master’s in Management” programmes in 2019. Boasting a 25-year tradition, the programme is considered one of the most established master’s programmes in Southeast Europe. Former and current heads of the programme, Dr Janez Prašnikar and Dr Polona Domadenik, talk about the distinctive features of the programme which are main fundamentals for its success.

Dr Janez Prašnikar
Full professor, School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana (SEB LU), former Head of the International Master’s in Business and Organisation (IMB) programme

Dr Polona Domadenik
Full professor, School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana (SEB LU), current Head of the International Master’s in Business and Organisation (IMB) programme

What was your inspiration when designing the International Master in Business and Organisation (IMB) programme 25 years ago? What were the main developments of the programme over the years?

Janez Prašnikar: Back then I had an opportunity to discover an advanced way of education at University of California, Berkeley and asked to myself why wouldn’t we have something like that? The idea of implementing such a programme in the Slovenian environment struck me. The times were different back then. You had to know what you wanted to change and how to implement it, but also had to be persistent and eager for hard work in order to realize ideas. After the former Yugoslavia fell apart, I decided to attempt establishing the IMB programme. At that time SEB LU was very adaptive and followed the development of universities from the West. The idea was to include prominent foreign and domestic professors – some of them have been a part of the programme since its very beginnings, and have always supported and reinforced it. The programme went through different obstacles, which were not always of an internal nature. If I recapitulate, I ran the programme for 25 years with 24 generations. I can proudly reminisce and claim that the idea I came up with was eventually successful.

Polona Domadenik: The biggest change over the last decade was the introduction of the new specialization, Technology Management, which is unique in the region. Also, the content of two other specializations, Digital Marketing and Finance, is changing on a yearly basis. The programme itself promotes working on case studies with companies on the content and business issues that are most relevant for the business community in that specific period. In last year’s programme we also included several personal development workshops and courses aimed at leading yourself and others. Personal counselling based on a psychological test gives students an in-depth understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and helps them plan their future career path and make life decisions.

The content of the programme is changing continuously in order to provide cutting-edge knowledge to students each year. What is your inspiration when designing each year’s content of the programme?

Polona Domadenik: The IMB programme is the outcome of many years of dedicated work by Dr Prašnikar, who has successfully brought to life the vision of high-quality business education from the international arena to Slovenia, while also linking the programme with the Portorož Business Conference which constitutes the first chance for students to have their first serious contact with the business world.

Being featured in the prestigious Financial Times’ Global Masters in Management ranking is a huge success and the acknowledgement of the high quality of the programme. What is your advice to other schools, what path should they take to feature their programmes in the Financial Times ranking? Also, what do you expect to be the long-term outcomes of this recognition?

Janez Prašnikar: By including the IMB programme in the Financial Times ranking of the top 100 Master’s in Management programmes in the world, SEB LU and the University of Ljubljana have both been awarded with a great accolade. This is the result of the hard work of all those who have participated in the programme over the last 25 years. Such success is at the same time a special challenge for the future. I am certain the programme will also be successful in the years to come.

Polona Domadenik: Being included in this ranking not only brings great honour, but also a responsibility vis-à-vis the current and all future generations of graduates.

Janez Prašnikar: To be specific, when we decided to pursue the ranking my concern was that in certain areas we would not be competitive enough, especially the ones which were requested specifically for the ranking. Polona set herself to it very courageously. She was the one to start the process. On the other hand, the students proved that they deserve the award.

Polona Domadenik: Applying for rankings is always associated with uncertainty. Although you fulfil all of the formal criteria to be ranked, it might happen that the programme is not included in the top 100. The most important thing when deciding for a ranking is to understand the process. My colleagues from the best business schools helped me a lot with advice on how to tackle different issues associated with rankings. However, I knew from the start that IMB’s community, students, alumni, and professors deserve this recognition. A successful program is like a puzzle with many stakeholders, each of them playing a specific role. I really hope that international recognition will bring many applications by motivated young people from all over the world.

The programme is known for attracting the best and the brightest students who upon graduation become important players not only in Slovenian, but also in international businesses. What kind of career progress can a recent graduate of the programme expect?

Polona Domadenik: For 25 years now, the programme’s graduates have been writing success stories in Slovenian and foreign companies. Their inclusion in the top-ranking programmes is the result of hard work, excellent students, as well as successful and dedicated alumni who maintain their contacts with the programme and strengthen its reputation in the business community. Data shows that almost 80 percent of graduates can expect employment within three months after they decide to enter the labour market. On average, in the four years after entering into their first job, their wages increase by 44 percent. Our graduates work in different sectors all around the world.

Janez Prašnikar: The programme’s graduates are well prepared with analytical skills. They are eager to be challenged with the most profound tasks in the organisation, they are hard-working, and are goal-oriented. However, these are only the character traits necessary to advance. Their career progress very much depends on their aspirations and realisations within the broader context.

A unique characteristic of the programme is also its connection with the Portorož Business Conference, where IMB students get the opportunity to present their research to the current business drivers. How has the conference developed during these years and what was the role of IMB programme?

Janez Prašnikar: The Portorož Business Conference just celebrated their important 20-year anniversary. There were four main substantive periods in which the conference preserved its relevance and attractiveness. Its early years were marked by internationalisation, soon followed by globalisation, and then the global financial crisis which shaped its content for several years, and ending with the period of exiting the crisis, which again influenced this year’s programme.

Polona Domadenik: The uniqueness of the conference is reflected in its programme, which traditionally also includes the findings of research conducted by SEB LU IMB programme students. In this year’s conference we presented a study entitled, “The Future Today: The Opportunity and the Challenges of E-business around the World and in Slovenia,” which is the result of the hard work of 37 students of the 25th generation of the IMB programme, and was guided by 16 mentors.

Close ties within alumni members in the Alumni Association MBA Radovljica are nurtured with yearly events where a very dedicated alumni community has developed. SEB LU professors also take an important part in this community. How do former alumni contribute to the IMB programme and its students?

Polona Domadenik: Through different activities in the past 25 years, both individuals and their companies have been promoting the development of the current generations, fostering the Alumni Association’s existence with their loyalty, and striving to establish connections to integrate the current generation with other Association members and successful domestic and foreign companies. Every year Alumni Association MBA Radovljica organises several social events in order to meet and greet the new generation. We are extremely proud of our mentorship programme that is completely run by alumni members who act as mentors to students of the current generation. This outstanding willingness to help and cooperate with the IMB programme clearly confirms the students’ and alumni’s determination and pride that comes from being part of this community. In 2018 the Alumni Association set up a foundation to help students cover their tuition fees. In October 2018, the first scholarship has been delivered.

Janez Prašnikar: I agree; they contribute in many ways. I have to admit that alumni constitute an important part of the programme’s success. They are mentors to younger colleagues, they are a core part of a strong network, in many cases opening doors to their carriers, they are organizers of important parts of social life, and, recently, with the establishment of the foundation, they contribute in the selection process by giving scholarships to the most talented and prospective students. 

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