18 Mar Interview with Jordi Díaz, Dean, EADA Business School Barcelona
Prisma Reports (PR): As one of Europe’s top-thirty business schools, EADA is at the forefront of executive education. What makes it stand out?
Jordi Díaz (JD): EADA has a clear mission: to be the place where businesspeople grow. We’ve been in place since 1957 and have always served the business community and contributed to its development by being on top of the corporate world’s needs. Our mission is our purpose, it’s what drives what we do and makes us so flexible and relevant in today’s society. Barcelona is one of the most cosmopolitan cities and our location is an outstanding factor. We have a cluster of world-class business schools here, making it one of the top-three European cities for business education. In our case, 90% of our full-time programs are followed by participants from over 60 different nations.
(PR): What are your views on the future of management education?
(JD): We are moving into adoption of lifelong learning. Research says that we will have to recycle ourselves every five years. The old model, where you just did a bachelor degree for three to four years, will transform and business schools have to understand that they will not only need to serve students at one point in time in a complete manner, but they will serve people consistently along their careers.
Universities and business schools need to accept that outside players will begin to be part of this educational experience and can bring a lot of value. I strongly believe in business education innovation ecosystems. We have to embrace cooperation not only among universities and business schools, but beyond the industry. Technology companies, corporations, governments and others together can offer the best experience to the talent of tomorrow.
(PR): What role do you see for new education ecosystems in satisfying the need for reskilling and upskilling?
(JD): At 2020’s World Economic Forum it was said that, by 2030, 1 billion people had to reskill due to technology changing, automation and positions becoming redundant, while new positions are being generated. In fact, we probably won’t be able to wait until 2030, we will need to accelerate it to 2025. The imperative need to reskill and upskill the workforce is a global phenomenon. Business schools should be the engine of this transformation and need to propose something that is totally different. We need to build a business education ecosystem that includes stakeholders such as Google or Amazon.
If tech companies do it on their own, there will be a more consulting approach — for example, if you have a problem, tech companies will give you the solution. This is why educational institutions should be involved, as they are able to provide the knowledge and the way to approach solutions whenever a problem arises. This is the difference between consulting and training.
(PR): How is EADA enabling socially responsible leaders?
(JD): We were pioneers in this area when we made the first master’s degree in sustainable business and innovation available. It’s a full-time program that we started three years ago and no other top-30 business school in Europe has an equivalent. Students might end up working for the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, leading corporations or become social entrepreneurs and innovators. We see a huge need from both young people wanting to change the world and the concept of globalization, and from senior leaders that are switching toward a new mindset, which is putting not only technology but also sustainability at the top of their thinking.
All our faculty and academics in research have combined their interest in this. We’ve also set out alliances with the two main movements in these areas. We collaborate with BCorp, the movement for certifications that consider financial profitability but also sustainable impact on the planet and people. And we partnered with Ashoka, the leading organization for promoting and supporting social entrepreneurship. They are both now part of our business education ecosystem.
(PR): How strong is EADA’s international footprint?
(JD): 30 years ago, we joined the European Foundation for Management Development as the platform to open our institution to the world. We have built a global network with our international programs where 50% of our participants come from Europe, 20% from Latin America, 10% from North America, 10% from Asia and the other 10% from the Middle East and Africa. We are keen on expanding our horizons toward the Asian market.
(PR): How has COVID-19 changed the student experience at EADA?
(JD): We were clear: technology comes second as the student’s experience is always our top priority. We are well known for our “boutique approach.” During the pandemic, we put our 400 full-time students in 15 parallel classes of 28-30 students to ensure personalized education. We were well prepared as we started offering online programs four years ago; the only difference COVID has brought in is hybrid online and classroom education.
Thanks to a major investment, all our classes were totally equipped for an immersive learning experience. We strongly believe that the excellence our professors achieve in face-to-face sessions has to be replicated online. EADA’s mission to be the place where businesspeople grow doesn’t change, but the flexibility in the way we operate has accelerated and the schools that will drive future progress are those that are taking a brilliant opportunity to experiment and accelerate innovation.