Kevan Lyons is Australian who has been living in Prague for 15 years. His teaching career began at Curtin in the early 2000s as he was completing my Postgraduate Certificate in MIS, where he taught practical tutorials for Postgraduate and Masters students in Systems Development Methodologies, and supported the course coordinator with summer school lectures. Now he is an MBA lecturer at UNYP teaching Financial Strategy. In 2011 he finished his MBA so got to see both sides.
What fields do you cover in the MBA classroom? What are your expectations coming to teach in Ljubljana at GEA College?
In the Corporate Finance field, I teach the subject of Financial Strategy and this incorporates elements of financial reporting & analysis and relies on at least a fundamental understaning of the financial statements. My expectations coming to Ljubljana and teaching at GEA is to hopefully meet an interesting group of students from perhaps different backgrounds that I might encounter in Prague. I am looking forward to helping them expand their finance knowledge and provide them with some practical applications for the skills they will learn.
Is teaching MBA programs different to other study programs? If so, in what ways?
Teaching in the MBA program is more interactive, as the students bring a very interesting mix of experience from their various work (and prior study) backgrounds. This enables us to jump deeper into the topics as much of the introduction – which would be part of a Bachelor program – is not often required. Those with more experience or knowledge in the area of finance often also help their less experienced classmates. I find we are able to jump into more practical aspects and discussions as a result.
You finished your MBA in 2011. Can you compare the experience as a lecturer and a student?
I studied my MBA at UNYP and I really enjoyed the smaller classes – I don’t think I had more than one class with over 20 students, with the average being 16 or so in the concentration courses. This was a big advantage of the course, as we all got to know each other over the duration of the program and this even helped get to know the lecturers a bit better as well. I now enjoy this from the other side, as I am able to get to know quite a lot about the students in just one course. Of course, it helps a great deal for the students’ learning, as they get a more focused experience in the classroom.
Has anything of importance changed in MBA in the last decade?
The emergence of a huge volume of information over the last decade is the biggest change. While the internet was indeed already there ten years ago, the prevalence of good analysis, access to articles, both business and academic is now excellent. There are also a lot of learning applications students can access
from their phones and other devices on the move. And although our MBA program at UNYP hasn’t yet embraced full online course management (outside of Moodle) to deliver and manage course content, this is another option that students across the world now have access to.
What are the main challenges in translating practical knowledge into more theoretical one?
The challenges in an MBA class with students from mixed business and educational backgrounds, is translating the messages in financial press and analyses into theoretical finance that everyone can understand. The underlying concepts and formula in finance are usually already built into accounting and finance systems, so developing an understanding of that and connecting the two is very important, and is often the biggest challenge.
How do you manage to keep pace in classrooms with fast changing business environment?
This is true! Business is always moving. Not long ago we were speaking about which company would be the first trillion dollar company, then not long after, we had three. Now we are back to two again, so things change very rapidly indeed. As we know in the current environment, not only the business factors affect these valuations. It is important to use real-life, real-time example as much as possible and I do try to keep my materials as up to date as I can with current trends.
What skills do you like to teach the most that will be relevant in the future?
In the Financial Strategy course, I like to focus on the area of building a business. Not from an entrepreneurial aspect, as students can cover that in Entrepreneurial Finance, but they are taught to understand the benefits of the difference sources of finance that are available to different types of businesses. Additionally, there is an element of tying in the strategy or vision of the business into a financial plan, or investment evaluation. The practical component culminates in a project to evaluate a business expansion or major capital investment using tools from the business environment.
What is the most attractive benefit of an MBA?
The big benefit of an MBA, along with the obvious additional education the students gain, either deepening knowledge in existing areas, or expanding into new ones, is the networking with other students from different backgrounds and sharing experiences. As this comes from both from life and work, this I find is a highly valuable benefit and students often meet lifelong friends, future colleagues or business partners in the MBA courses they undertake.