This post has drawn a wide discussion among fellow twitterers. I was subsequently asked to share my ‘predicament’ on vault.com and forbes.com by Aman Singh. I have since gained tremendous amount of insights and encouragement from the CSR and Sustainability Twitter’s fellowship, for which I am immensely grateful!
Aman Singh is the Corporate Responsibility editor of vault.com. She has been selected as 2010’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. You will find her extremely amicable. Aman tweets at http://twitter.com/#!/AmanSinghCSR
I am an MBA candidate specialising in corporate social responsibility (CSR) in one of the top British school with sustainability or ESG (environment, social and governance) curriculum. The program allows a candidate to go for a general MBA or specialises in finance, entrepreneurship or CSR.
Few weeks into my 2nd term, an academia gave me this advice, in private. “Opt for the general ‘MBA’ title rather than ‘MBA in CSR'”, he said (while keeping the same modules I have chosen). The view was that I will have better career option. Most of us know that British are as diplomatic as diplomatic gets, it was possibly, a hint. I could think of two. One, that he does not think I have the right background to have a decent career in CSR. Two, he thought I will do better in other areas. I enjoy my lectures and research, but am nevertheless concerned with the point he raised. So, I started paying more attention to body language as well as verbal responses whenever I talk about an education in CSR, especially when making new contacts.
When I observed smothered cynicism, I pressed for their views, hoping to reason the skepticism out. Most of the views go down to the perception that people who believes in CSR or CR are disconnected from the ‘real’ world. That we are tree-huggers or socialists, who are delusional about what makes the world. Often, the professor in my private equity & venture capital (my other areas of interest) class will teased the class whenever I am the first person who figured the numbers. He will say, “Ahh.. the CSR person!”.
It seemed to me that, there is a general perception that one who is concerned with CSR has no numerical skills nor business acumen. It may sounds egotistical, but I will take a leap of faith in you, that you will see that my exasperation does has it place. I had one of the highest score in finance, accounting and marketing in the program! Surely, I can not go around telling employers that, or do I have to?
A brief background of the MBA program in University of Nottingham:
The program is divided in three parts. During the first term, all candidates have to take core subjects: business economics, finance and accounting, operation management, strategies for business, organisational behaviour (it’s called managing people in our school), and marketing. The 2nd term, is when one takes 6 electives modules. If you choose to specialise in a specific area, you will have 3 compulsory modules in your chosen area. The 3rd and final term, is where you conduct your research and write the thesis.
Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranked University of Nottingham MBA in CSR 4th best in the ‘international school’ category.
The value of such a master program is that one can acquire knowledge and skills in general administration, which I personally find invaluable. Especially one that incorporate an international curriculum. Other than finance, my favourite module in the previous term was operations management – a subject I never know I would form passion for. LEAN, TQM, TOC, Supply chain management are just some examples of operations fundamentals that augment CSR to achieve double bottom line, yes?
Let me give you an example of how an MBA candidate can self-select to incorporate CSR study in an otherwise hard-nosed subject. I happened to be in group of 3 members who are also interested in CSR. We formed a group to study Microfinance. To make it an operations management project, we studied the use of technologies to reduce cost of operations in MFIs. Ta-dah. I can tell you that as I now focuses my study on CSR, the learning in operations management frequently pop up, helping me to see practical perspectives.
The author plans to write her thesis on corporate (social) responsibility in the private equity industry. In the UK, there are very few IPOs in the recent years since the financial crisis. Given that private equity has risen in scale in the UK (and globally), and the value proposition it offers (while some may disagree with), the author wonders if the motivations for CR in actors in private equity will be similar to those in public equity. If the aspirations of managers in private equity differs to those of listed firms, would we see a different type of CR subscription by private equity firms (or businesses backed by private equity), would they create a breed of CR?
What do you think?