Having spent a few days at Wharton, it become clear to me that what’s really broken about the MBA atmosphere has nothing to do with the students but rather a system that has been working for many years as a corporate grinder for recruitment in which, not only they have been some of the top payers of these programs but also on how the same system has the cruel incentive to force students back to their HQ’s.
As a quick show of hands, 75% of the students in the conference I attended are going to leave Wharton with some serious debt – can we blame them for not leaving with an urge to become entrepreneurs? To find a problem and try to solve it? They clearly have a problem already, and it’s facing with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt they’ll most need to repay by working in finance or consulting.
Do they have a choice? Is there a way in which we can brake the cycle? If we still believe that MBA’s are worth our time schools need to be proactive in finding ways to encourage some of the entrepreneurs with the most potential to come spend some time with them. The very model is facing a crisis, we are producing old-school talent for new-world needs and there’s some serious catching up to be done.
My suggestion is that schools start their own – evergreen – VC funds.
An investment in the form of a scholarship, available for top potential candidates committed to start their own companies upon program completion and willing to repay in equity their MBA education. Returns of successful companies would then go back into the fund making it evergreen and showing true commitment not only to educating the next class of world-class entrepreneurship but also promoting the spirit transforms many industries – education being one of them. The capital should come from former students who are passionate about entrepreneurship and would like to pass on the opportunity of education to someone else. Students within the program would start the ideation process during their MBA’s and benefit from not only faculty resources but also participating backers in the form of mentors and advisors who are committed to the success of these ventures. Companies would come out with some of the best chances to succeed: access to high quality mentors, Ivy league knowledge, a broad A-class talent pool and access to smart capital.
Business schools need to brake this vicious cycle or we will continue to see how this generation of world changers and the next will have nothing to do with them and I am not sure on this being necessarily a good thing. Education has always been the pillar of opportunity and a more prominent future.