José Antonio Lozano
View from the Top

Business-Focused Education with a Human Touch

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 10:46

Q: What are IPADE’s main contributions to the Mexican business community since the school’s founding in 1967?

A: In the 1960s, the country did not have a developed business culture. It had a commercial culture and there were some Mexican businesses that enjoyed social prestige, but that was it. A group of businesspeople were concerned about this and created the business school. IPADE offers academic programs in upper management using the case method as its educational strategy. The school has created an ecosystem in which participants face everyday problems related to business and has looked for ways to instill a solid ethical vision and sense of social responsibility in its graduates. IPADE started operating in 1967 and it has close to 40,000 graduates. According to a commissioned qualitative study, IPADE has impacted several business communities in the country regarding their long-term business vision. 
Q: What makes an IPADE graduate more competitive than a counterpart from other universities?

A: IPADE has two distinctive elements. First, its programs are directed to upper-management positions. This means that our programs focus on leadership skills alongside technical knowledge. Second, IPADE is centered on an anthropological model of business that answers to the needs of society. The school’s graduates are businesspeople whose main goals are not only the generation of revenue but of added value. 

Q: Companies sometimes choose executives from abroad. What are the management and leadership needs of the Mexican business community?

A: Globally, we are seeing an appreciation for soft skills in management and middle-management positions in different sectors. These soft skills are more focused on negotiation, ability to create teams, working under pressure and decisionmaking in uncertain scenarios. IPADE has fostered these skills for years but they are only now being valued by the business community. The world is facing a moment of high volatility, uncertainty, complexity and anxiety. In light of this, business leaders require adaptability and a focus on collaborative work. 

Q: What are the challenges of keeping academic business programs up to date?

A: It is a huge challenge related to the concept of the university of the future. Academic programs have to adapt to a more complex reality, one that is more evolved in technological themes and relational styles. We need to be up to date on the current business environment and have the flexibility to teach relevant content. However, our programs would be superficial if they were not accompanied by solid training in mental logic and processes, which is why we teach students how to solve problems and face and adapt to new realities. 

Q: What collaborations or partnerships with other academic institutions and businesses has IPADE developed?

A: In the past, our goal was to have the largest number of academic exchanges with the most possible countries. We have taken another step and now target well-chosen strategic partners to establish not only students but also professor exchanges and to work on joint academic research programs. We have relationships with five of the world’s Top 10 business schools, including Harvard Business School and the Kellogg Business School. Instead of implementing volunteer international exchanges, we have developed complete courses wherein students are obligated to spend three weeks abroad to complete the course. 

Q: What challenges do Mexico’s post-graduate institutions face?

A: In general, education in Mexico faces significant challenges. According to INEGI, Mexico’s natality rate is below 2 percent, which means the population is starting to decrease. As a result, in the coming years fewer people will be going to university. Mexico has the largest number of registered universities in the world, with over 3,000. We must find a new business model that does not rely on tuition, such as alumni support, research projects or patent generation, that could become a source of revenue and sustainability for the university in the long term.