by Radu Atanasiu, Lecturer of Thinking and Deciding in Business and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
The business school I am a partner in, Bucharest International School of Management (former Maastricht School of Management Romania), aims to transform the Romanian society and business environment by acting where the impact is both intense and long lasting: in managerial education. We change our participants’ perspective and we transform the way they lead, so that, in turn, they catalyze transformation around them.
We have been offering an Executive MBA in Bucharest for 16 years already, we have therefore hundreds of alumni who tell us how they are different people now, how they have changed their life philosophy after the MBA, and how they have passed on to others their new ways of looking at things. We will soon start the 14th cohort of Fast Track (our mini-MBA program) and we have done personalized courses with thousands of employees from dozens of companies.
And all our alumni take our mission further: they become catalysts for change in their organizations, communities and families. Each of them explains, practices, and exemplifies principles and behaviors of humanistic management, which, for example, increase trust between various hierarchical levels, alleviate hyper-competitiveness, restrain the tendency to micromanage, and encourage empathy.
Before teaching, I also went through an MBA at this school and I can testify that, after those two years, I was essentially someone else, I knew myself better, and I had a different clarity upon my purpose. This transformation, however, is not something I was looking for when I enrolled in the MBA, nor do I think I could have wished for, or understand it at the beginning.
I got it afterwards and, although the knowledge and the practical methods I learned there were of good use, my transformation is the most important thing I’ve got from this program.
It’s funny that we never manage to explain accurately this profound personal transformation to those who want to enroll in one of our programs. But then it happens and our students come and tell us that they get it now and that they finally understood their role as catalysts for change in their organizations and communities.
Transforming managers / leaders is almost the most effective way to change society, they have what is called leverage, a multiplier effect. I say “almost the most effective” because it is even more effective to act upon the future leaders of organizations.
We, therefore, launched this year three UK undergrad programs (Business Management, Digital Marketing, and Finance & Accounting) that can be studied in Bucharest. We hope to keep smart children in Romania by offering them the best of both worlds: British education, curriculum, and diploma, delivered by our lecturers, Romanian and international business-people with local and regional experience, and with the opportunity to practice what they learn in top Romanian companies.
We thus prepare young Romanians for successful careers on any meridian. And we hope many will put Romania on their short list: there is a lot of work to be done here. But we also prepare them for life. We show them the importance of altruism and teamwork, we teach them to trust the others and to allow themselves to make mistakes.
We explain that financial profit and the increase of shareholders’ value should not be the only aims of a company: it is important to understand the responsibility a business has towards the community and the environment in which it operates. We explore the limits of our rationality, in order to understand the hidden mechanisms that determine behaviors in others (partners, customers, colleagues), but especially in ourselves.
And so, working with the leaders of today and tomorrow, we hope to transform the Romanian business environment, to make it more open towards exploring and innovation, towards accepting risk and failure, towards care for the people in the organization, towards the need to learn and to share our lessons. And mainly towards trusting the others.
A version of this short article was published in July in the third edition of the Community Index magazine.