Ravi Mattu

If Canada’s gold medal in ice hockey wasn’t enough to convince you of the country’s love of the sport, an Ontario company has taken it to another level. IT Weapons has installed a hockey rink in their office as a way both to satiate the bosses’ love of the game but also as a way to attract and retain talent.

According to Jason MacBean, the company’s chief architect: “One of our biggest challenges is retaining young, smart people, and young, smart people need a blend between their personal lives and work. The people we want to attract are people who will appreciate this,”

Ravi Mattu

In today’s paper, check out our latest ranking of executive MBAS. As you will see, the trend for success seems to be those programmes that are taught in multiple locations. In the age of globalisation, that has to make sense.

Ravi Mattu

As we continue our strand of military strategy coming back into the boardroom (it wasn’t intentional but we obviously tapped into something in the management air). Our colleagues on the business education beat have picked up on a reverse trend – how retiring military officers are getting commercial business nous from an executive programmes at Manchester Business School.

Ravi Mattu

Earlier this week, business school IMD hosted Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who won Olympic gold at Beijing and set two new world records (100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay). John Weeks, professor of organisational behaviour at IMD, has even written a paper on the topic and the school has posted some videos on the “Art and Science of coaching Usain Bolt” its YouTube page.

Managers and business thinkers love to find ways of using sports to illuminate business thinking and management lessons. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t; I sometimes think that the truth is that sport-mad business leaders just want to find a way of tying the two together.

Despite the fact that I too am a bit sports-mad, I’m a bit dubious about these sorts of links. Having said that, Bolt has managed to parlay his phenomenal success on the track into profitable ventures off of it, so perhaps there is more to it than I think. What do you think? Is there anything in this?

Stefan Stern

How long does it take to earn the Master of Business Administration qualification? One year of full-time study? Two years? I have just received delivery of two new books. One is a hefty, serious-looking tome called The 30 Day MBA. The other is a lighter, jollier number. Its title? The 80 Minute MBA.

Look on Amazon and you will find that a 12 hour, one day, 10 day, vest pocket, portable and fast forward MBA are all available as well. But it could be dangerous to be seen reading any of these books at the moment. Scapegoats are still being sought for the crisis in world markets. MBA graduates make a convenient target.

Some of them seem ready to condemn themselves. The journalist Philip Delves Broughton, who completed his Harvard MBA in 2006, has described his peers as a “swollen class of jargon-spewing, value- destroying financiers and consultants”.

The remainder of the article can be read here. Please post comments below.

Adam Jones

Harvard Business School runs a week-long course that helps mothers return to paid employment after taking time out to look after a child or children. It’s called ‘A New Path: Setting New Professional Directions’ and costs $5,000.

On behalf of those mothers whose budgets won’t stretch that far, I asked Professor Tim Butler, the course leader, for some free advice in a new FT Management podcast.

Declaring that active parenting is “project management with a capital P and a capital M”, Prof Butler nonetheless suggests that it can be useful for stay-at-home mothers to do voluntary work in order to keep their CV or resumé relevant.

Among other pieces of advice: keep networking. Yes, that’s easier said than done given the time constraints faced by full-time parents, but it can make professional re-entry a lot less daunting.

You can listen to our conversation through the FT’s podcast player, through iTunes or by just clicking this direct link to the MP3 audio file.

Adam Jones

I’ve said before how much I enjoy Freek Vermeulen’s corporate strategy blog, Random Rantings. The London Business School associate professor is a rising star and his pithy observations are both accessible and authoritative.

So when I was planning a podcast on how the crisis in capitalism is being taught in MBA classrooms, I went straight to the Dutchman and he filled me in on the ways in which he is encouraging students to avoid the idiocy that caused today’s chaos.

Whether they take heed is another matter, of course.

The podcast also includes a discussion with Della Bradshaw, the FT’s business education editor, about its 2009 ranking of MBA programmes. You can listen here or subscribe via iTunes.

Stefan Stern

Please take a look at the first part (of four) in the FT’s new Mastering Management series, “Managing in a Downturn”. You will find lots of stimulating new material in there.

In particular, I recommend Donald Sull’s article “Seizing the upside of a downturn”. Don is professor of management practice at London Business School (LBS), as well as its director of executive education. (He was also an amateur boxer in his youth, not so long ago.)

Don argues that managers need to show resilience, courage and agility at a time like this – like a good boxer, in fact. But imagination is necessary too. There are opportunties out there, even now. You just have to have the nerve and ability to go for them.

At a breakfast meeting at LBS this week Don was in terrific form. He was disparaging about some of the inflated claims made by some private equity players in recent years. “Some people have mistaken luck and cheap debt for commercial genius,” he said. He seemed pretty confident they were about to be found out.

“A lot of CEOs drive with only one foot – the gas [accelerator] or the brake,” he added. “That’s why the ride can be a bit jerky.” We need to be able to do both to make the ride a bit smoother, he said. Work on costs and revenues at the same time. Not so dramatic, Don said. But a much more effective way of creating lasting value.

Stefan Stern

Oh the disappointment. You receive an e-mail from one of the world’s greatest business schools, telling you that you have been accepted into next year’s full-time MBA course.

And then – disaster. It turns out that the e-mail was sent in error. You and 49 other sorry MBA wannabes have been misled. All you can do now is cry into your cornflakes.

This is the sad tale of the Kellogg school of management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The school has made sure that Christmas 2008 is one that 50 young people will never forget.

Over 5,000 aspiring MBA students applied last year for the two-year Kellogg course, steeling themselves for annual fees of $46,791. The only consolation for the 50 rejected candidates is getting their $235 application fee back.

MBAs tend to become even more popular in downturns. That investment banking job has gone – why not spend the severance pay on upskilling and increasing your employability (and market value) just in time for the recovery? That’s the business logic, anyway. I’m sure the unlucky 50 will find another academic home somewhere else.

But you really do have to be careful how you break news to people. Remember the time that Cohen dropped dead in the office, and Shapiro was sent to pass on the tragic information?

He approached the Cohen household and knocked at the door.

“Widow Cohen?” he asked, as the door opened.

“Waddya mean ‘widow’?!” cried the startled and indignant lady. “I’m Mrs Cohen! I’m not a widow!”

“Wanna bet?”

Adam Jones

Today’s Financial Times included its annual ranking of European business schools, based on aggregate performance across MBAs, executive MBAs, executive education and masters courses.

The top ten are listed below, with their 2007 rank in brackets (note that there are ties in fourth and eighth position):

1. (1.) HEC Paris
2. (2.) London Business School
3. (3.) Insead
4. (5) IE Business School
4. (4) IMD
6. (7) ESCP-EAP European School of Management
7. (6) Iese Business School
8. (9) EM Lyon
8. (8) Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
10. (16) Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School

Check out the full, interactive ranking and the accompanying special report.

About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

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