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„We are prepared for any scenario“

Professor Dr Niamh O’Mahony on launching the MGMDC programme in pandemic times

Prof. Dr. Niamh O'Mahony, Programme Director MSc Global Management and Digital Competencies

“Truly international” is the ESB Business School’s promise. In recent semesters, this has meant, among other things, providing students with a highly international study experience even in times of pandemic. The newly-designed MSc Global Management and Digital Competencies (MGMDC) programme, which kicks off in winter semester 2021/22, is no exception. Programme Director Professor Dr Niamh O'Mahony speaks to us about how she designed the new programme and why the uncertainties of Corona are not a problem for the MGMDC.

Prof. O’Mahony, can you briefly outline the MSc Global Management and Digital Competencies for us?

Absolutely. The MSc Global Management & Digital Competencies is a brand-new master programme. It builds on its predecessor programme, the MSc International Management which we decided after 20 years of existence needed to be completely overhauled to take into account that we find ourselves today in a global business world that is undergoing major transformation as a result of digitalization.
We have designed the programme for bachelor graduates with either a major or minor in business who are looking for an exciting and challenging master programme that will provide them with the skillset they need to be success global managers in this changed business environment.

Mandatory semesters abroad are a part of most degree programmes at the ESB Business School. In the MGMDC programme, students even start their studies abroad. How does that work?

Students start the programme with one of our four partner universities in Canada, France, Italy or Ireland, where the focus will be on global management before coming to the ESB for the second Study Block where they will concentrate on data and digital competencies. The third study block involves the student writing a thesis which can be done with a company, if the student wishes, and undertaken anywhere in the world. Regardless of location the programme is taught entirely in English. The programme curriculum is agreed amongst the participating schools, but also allows the individual schools to offer modules in areas where they have a recognised expertise e.g. Consulting Skills for Digital Transformation at the ESB or Augmented Reality Marketing at Brock University. There are single and double degree variants available providing applicants with lots of choice.

To what extent does the pandemic situation affect the programme?

There are two ways in which the pandemic affects the programme:
1) It makes it difficult to say now what the actual format of the teaching will be in the autumn: online, face-to-face or hybrid. All of the participating schools hope to be able to offer it face-to-face, but of course we have to wait and see how the pandemic develops.
2) We cannot forecast to what extent travel restrictions will impact on us. Regardless, however, the programme will go ahead and we aim to let students know as early as possible what the final format will be. We are prepared for any scenario and are looking forward to receiving our first students.

Will that have any influence on the content?

Apart from the fact that the classes might have to be delivered online or in a hybrid format which sometimes requires a creative workaround by the teaching staff or the replacement of e.g. a written exam with an alternative format, I would not expect major changes to the curriculum. The teaching staff is prepared for all scenarios. Each of the schools has experienced two semesters of teaching through Corona and alternatives have been found to also ensure that networking opportunities continue to be offered for students both to companies and to other students.

The pandemic situation remains highly dynamic. How flexibly can the partners respond to changing conditions?

All of the schools have mechanisms in place to be able to react quickly to any changes e.g. the swift movement between face-to-face, hybrid and online formats depending on the Corona developments. As two locations are involved in the programme, the actual format  for each location will be determined by the local situation and the relevant government regulations. The MGMDC is not intended to be an online programme, so it would be our hope to deliver as much of it as possible face-to-face.

What else should a potential applicant know about the programme?

As with all of the ESB programmes, this master programme pursues a practice-oriented approach. Apart from the full-time professors involved in the programme who bring with them many years of professional business experience, we are very happy to have two of the ESB modules taught by lecturers who work full-time in the business world. The modules concerned are International Finance & Risk Management and Smart Operations Management. Both of these lecturers also provide career advice to our students and share their network of contacts with them.