The Babson difference: How Entrepreneurship can Transform the World

Brand View: The F.W. Olin Graduate School at Babson College offers masters level degrees and graduate certificates to advance students’ professional and entrepreneurial career. Dr Keith Rollag, Murata Dean of the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, explains why the institution stands out above the rest

Dr Keith Rollag belives entrepreneurship-oriented MBAs will be popular in Dubai

What’s your own personal background?

In addition to being the new Murata Dean of the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, I am a Professor of Management and have been teaching leadership to students and executives at Babson for the past 17 years.

My research has focused on newcomer on-boarding, organisational network analysis, and leadership development. My book What to Do When You’re New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident and Successful in New Situations was named by Success Magazine as one of the ten best Books of 2015.  Prior to getting my Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University, I was a R&D manager for Procter and Gamble, working and living in Japan for five years.

Why is Babson College – USA is opening a branch here in UAE?

At Babson, we believe that entrepreneurship can transform the world, and it is our mission to develop entrepreneurial leaders around the world. We’re excited to open a new campus in Dubai because this is one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems on the planet, and we want to both help Dubai and the UAE prosper as well as learn from your success.

Dubai is the home to Babson’s largest alumni and parent population in the Middle East, and we have over 800 Babson alumni in the region. Many of them are highly successful entrepreneurs and family business leaders, and they are enthusiastically supporting the launch of both our Babson MBA and Babson Executive Education programmes in Dubai.

We also see great opportunity and need for more entrepreneurship education in the region. According to the latest Babson-sponsored Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), 88 percent of people in the UAE see entrepreneurs as having a high status in their society, and 65 percent are confident in their ability to start a business. But only 35 percent see good entrepreneurial opportunity around them, and 61 percent would not start a business out of fear of failure. We think we can help drive and enable entrepreneurship in Dubai through our unique approach to developing entrepreneurial leaders.

And why specifically now?

Over the past few years we have been extending the Babson MBA beyond the Boston area, with campuses in San Francisco, Miami, and now Dubai. Our mission to develop entrepreneurial leaders who create economic and social value everywhere fits well with Dubai’s and the UAE’s plans for economic growth and societal development.

The UAE’s Vision 2021 plan sets ambitious goals for the nation, and among these goals is to increase entrepreneurship in the region. One of the six key initiatives in the Dubai 2021 Plan (set forth by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry) is also the development of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We feel this is a terrific time to join and support these important efforts by helping develop Dubai’s next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.

While some universities in Dubai and the UAE already offer MBA’s with an entrepreneurship focus, none of them can match a Babson MBA, which has been ranked number one in entrepreneurship for 25 consecutive years by US News and World Report. We are also the most-recognised school in the world for our entrepreneurship educator programmes through which we have trained thousands of faculty at other schools to teach entrepreneurship.

What excites you most about this opening?

For the Babson MBA in Dubai we have developed a blended-format programme that will be appealing to not only Emirati and UAE residents but also those in the region willing to travel to Dubai to attend periodic on-campus sessions. We have been perfecting this mix of online and face-to-face learning over the past 18 years and are currently ranked Number six in the world by Financial Times for online-oriented MBAs.

This format is ideal for working professionals because it is more flexible and convenient than existing programs, and our faculty are highly experienced at facilitating engaging, impactful learning experiences in both the virtual and physical classroom.

We have designed our Dubai MBA to be practical and relevant to “entrepreneurs of all kinds,” including aspiring entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) owners, the next generation of family business leaders, managers driving innovation inside larger corporations, and those socially-oriented change-makers wanting to make their own unique impact on the world.

The MBA core curriculum is built on three themes: entrepreneurship and opportunity; managing at the crossroads: business, government, and the international economy; and global connections through technology.

Where is it opening? What facilities will you have?

Babson’s in-person programmes will be held in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the financial nexus for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. More specifically, Babson will be housed at The Academy at DIFC, the district’s educational hub built to support a knowledge-based economy, attract the region’s brightest graduates, and provide access to Dubai’s innovative business community.

What services will you offer?

We will start this November with Approaches to Innovation in the UAE, a two-day programme through Babson Executive Education. In December we will offer a three-day programme on family entrepreneurship entitled Growing a Business and Family Across Generations. We will also be bringing our Symposia for Entrepreneurship Educators programme to Dubai in February for faculty and administrators in the region. In January 2019 we will begin offering the Babson MBA in a blended format.

In addition, we are working with organisations in the Middle East to develop and deliver custom programmes that drive growth through entrepreneurship and innovation.

How do you work with business professionals, educational institutions, governments and NGOs, business owners and entrepreneurs to address real-world objectives and challenges?

This is what we do best, and in Dubai we are exploring a variety of ways to help drive innovation in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. For example, through the Blank Centre for Entrepreneurship, we offer programmes ranging from summer camps for high school students to the Butler Launch Pad which supports early-stage student and alumni ventures.

Our Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab® at Babson’s Centre for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL), nurtures women-led entrepreneurship. Our Institute for Family Enterprise helps support family-led entrepreneurship, and our Lewis Institute for Social Innovation works with both for-profit and non-profit institutions, NGOs, and change-makers throughout the world to drive social and environmental change in support of the UN Global Goals.

Through Babson Executive Education, we have helped thousands of businesses launch and grow. Through our collaboration with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, we have built the capacity for community college faculty to teach and support thousands of small business owners in cities throughout the United States.

Finally, Babson offers a range of world-renowned programmes for universities and faculty around the world to learn how to teach entrepreneurship.

Tell us about Entrepreneurial Thought & Action

Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® (ET&A™) is our methodology to use the power of entrepreneurship to drive innovation and growth and help solve the world’s most pressing problems. It is part of Babson’s DNA and deeply embedded in everything we do, including our MBA and Executive Education programmes.

Through ET&A we help students, executives, working professionals, and change-makers to learn quickly by balancing action, experimentation, and creativity with rigorous analysis backed by business acumen. It is the secret to success for serial entrepreneurs, and we have distilled their approach into a methodology that can be applied to any challenge or opportunity in business or society.

How will your services be tailored for this region?

We are working with our alumni entrepreneurs in Dubai as well as local business leaders, government officials, and professional associations to customise our offerings to the unique challenges faced in the region. Through decades of effort helping entrepreneurs throughout the world we have learned how to adapt our methodology to a variety of business, societal, and regulatory environments.

What are the main business opportunities for growth that you identify here?

While we believe our entrepreneurship-oriented MBA and Executive Education programmes will be popular in Dubai and throughout the region, we see opportunities for growth in three specific areas – family-led enterprise, women-led entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship for social innovation.

These are the three pillars of our long-term growth strategy, and they are uniquely relevant and important to the Middle East. Besides MBA and Executive Education programmes focused on family entrepreneurship, we are actively planning Dubai-based case-writing and research.

Finally, we plan to extend the activities and efforts of our Lewis Centre for Social Innovation to the region. The centre promotes social change through a variety of entrepreneurship programmes targeting everyone from high school students to CEOs, and we believe these and other social initiatives will help support and reinforce existing efforts in the region.


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