Demand For MBA Means Elevating Capabilities For Senior Executives

October 10, 2023 thehrobserver-hrobserver-MBA

With demand for MBAs on the rise, ensuring students are equipped with the right skills and capabilities is crucial. At Strathclyde Business School, students graduate with both.

The demand for MBA graduates continues to be strong. According to a global 2023 Corporate Recruiters Survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council™, MBAs had the most hiring success in 2022, with 97% of employers questioned in the Middle East hiring MBA graduates. This means that business schools need to equip students with the skills and capabilities enter a rapidly shifting, dynamic, and competitive workforce.  

Developing capabilities in an environment of international academic excellence and diverse business professionals is a transformative journey that amplifies peer learning.  

In our ecosystem, we foster cross-cultural connections and facilitate international collaboration through our diverse cohorts and global MBA networks. This dynamic ecosystem nurtures capabilities by harnessing global peers’ wisdom and experiences, enriching participants with a global perspective. It’s a unique and enriching experience that underscores the power of peer learning, international excellence, and our diverse community of business professionals.

HR, Talent Development and Skills

In the world of HR and talent development, the terms “capabilities” and “skills” are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct concepts.

Capabilities encompass a blend of knowledge, skills, tools, processes, and behaviours that define how a company fulfils its strategic objectives and satisfies clients or stakeholders. These are the drivers of change at the organizational level and play a crucial role in shaping performance, strategy, and brand identity. On the other hand, skills refer to specific talents, knowledge, or expertise required to perform a particular task or job. Skills can be developed through experience or education and may include technical or soft skills that impact interpersonal relationships.

When it comes to career growth, and adequately preparing graduates for a competitive working environment, capabilities are paramount. These multifaceted attributes, including knowledge, skills, and behaviours drive organizational success. While skills are essential, it’s the cultivation of capabilities that truly distinguishes senior executives and their organisations. Skills, especially technical ones, have a limited shelf life. In contrast, capabilities are strategic, enduring as well as unique and benefiting both individuals and organisations. They persist over time, aligning seamlessly with strategy and culture for lasting success.

Amidst an ever-evolving business landscape, capabilities are unwavering allies. They empower individuals and organisations to navigate uncertainties and seize opportunities, serving as a compass guiding us toward future achievements. 

In our case, for example, we have ensured our programme has three fundamental pillars – Responsible Leadership, Capability Development, and Strategic Implementation – the Strathclyde MBA transcends the conventional business curriculum. It provides a captivating, demanding, and transformative journey aimed at moulding and steering students towards becoming introspective, receptive, and flexible learners.

This is where the Executive MBA shines in catalysing capability development. It equips senior executives with knowledge and tools to refine their capabilities, offering immediate career advancement and enabling long-term success. Enrolling in an Executive MBA is an investment that transcends skill acquisition; it’s a transformative journey unlocking senior executives’ full potential and propelling their careers to new heights.

Here are two key differences that highlight the importance of capabilities over skills:

Difference 1: PurposeDifference 2: Longevity
Consider verbal communication, a skill commonly needed in many job roles. However, when you combine this skill with others, such as listening and empathy, you create a capability like “Effective Communication.”
Capabilities are collections of related skills, behaviours and processes that drive business progress. They are essential both for employees to perform effectively and for organisations to achieve their goals. For instance, effective communication may determine how employees engage with clients to drive sales and revenue.
Skills, especially technical ones, tend to expire quickly, often within five years. While soft and leadership skills have a longer shelf life, they still may not last the lifetime of your career. In contrast, capabilities are strategic, stable, and unique to your organisation. They can be acquired externally but must be refined internally to align with your strategy and culture, making them essential for long-term success.
In a rapidly changing business landscape, where the pressure to create new value and adapt to unexpected shifts is constant, capabilities become even more crucial. Skills serve as short-term tactics to navigate daily challenges, while capabilities are the heavyweight players driving long-term success.

Dr. Imran Zawwar

Associate Professor of Business Strategy and Innovation at Strathclyde Business School UAE

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