Dr. Aaron Johnson, one of the most popular MBA lecturers at UNYP, is imparting his rich and colorful life experience with new generations of students.
He joined UNYP in 2013, teaching courses in economics, finance, and mathematics, as well as serving as UNYP’s MBA director, while working with Entrepreneurship efforts in Prague. Most professional hours are dedicated toward the classroom and developing online training programs.
We were curious about his view on MBA, his experience as a lecturer on the program and what (business) skills does he think will be relevant in the future.
In 2020 UNYP and GEA College from Ljubljana, Slovenia are starting their partnership in MBA program, Empowering Future Leaders. What are your expectations as a lecturer?
I teach economics and finance. There are so many fairly basic concepts in these fields which are quite enlightening when first explored, and surprisingly underutilized in many businesses, leading to suboptimal results. Mastery of these decision-making tools will place students instantly ahead of others so that they can be very competitive in whatever business sphere they choose.
Is teaching MBA programs different to other study programs? If so, in what ways?
Absolutely. Many programs can be delivered in person or online, since it’s really just a transfer of information that takes place. An MBA program is very different; it’s a combination of exploring the real meaning behind ideas and application of business tools and learning to lead in a group setting. Business is about people, and a successful MBA program requires a wealth of human capital to be physically in the room for the sort of development that leads to success.
When is the best time in ones’ career to join MBA program?
I believe that it is anywhere from 5 years after entering the workforce up to about 50 years of age. That’s about a 25 year span, and that’s commonly the age range in our program. I have taught in a U.S. program where students enter right from their undergraduate work, and it simply falls short of the experience we can offer at UNYP since that lack of work experience means there’s essentially nothing that can be shared in the room, and there’s no past experience to build on.
How do you manage to keep pace in classrooms with fast changing business environment?
We go straight to online tools and articles. I haven’t used textbooks for years exactly for this reason. We need to be able to pull up current information on the screen and use it as an application to our discussions, or our discussions are irrelevant.
How does the worth of an MBA reflect in companies and society?
This can be seen by simply running a search for current professional positions. An article from just this month confirms what you’ll find with a job search; that: “Google, Accenture and KPMG… along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, consulting companies like McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and others hire the highest number of European MBA graduates.” These companies know that there is great value to be unlocked from individuals who successfully complete a solid MBA program.
What skills do you like to teach the most that will be relevant in the future?
Logic skills. You can never have enough logical thinking in your team, and too often there’s not enough. But beyond that, you must be able to communicate positions well to those who haven’t thought about them the same way. That’s why my economics weekends include discussions of many behavioral biases that shape our own decision-making, and of those around us. There are many situations where emotion needs to be carefully removed from a choice, and it’s often not easy. Development of these skills is a process that must continue beyond just the limited class time that we have.
What is the most attractive benefit of an MBA?
Opportunity. The amazing thing about watching managers evolve through MBA programs is the discovery of new opportunities that couldn’t even be identified on the front end. Many new businesses have been started by individuals inspired by entrepreneurship or partnerships that have formed from individuals who actually met in our MBA program. Intrapreneurship within existing business has taken our graduates to new opportunities either within their existing employment or to varied locations beyond what they ever would have expected. It’s fun to watch our alumni show up in articles and see the places that their degree has taken them.
We really hope you enjoyed the interview. Have you had a chance to explore all your opportunities yet or do you feel there are still some stones unturned?