University challenges future leaders to embrace social responsibility
Night after night we watched as the devastating effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unfolded on our television screens, impacting on wildlife, the environment and the economy. Another year on, and much of Europe is still reeling from the trail of devastation left by the credit crunch and subsequent recession, with many arguing that the root of the crisis was that business leaders were more focused on short term profit than their social responsibilities.
In our very Scottish way, we can all be rather cynical when we hear politicians such as David Cameron talking about “the Big Society” but, deep down, perhaps we all sense that if individuals, communities and business changed their attitudes and actions, we would be in a much better position to achieve and sustain a healthier, more productive world. How, though, can we ensure that the businesses and organisations of the future are going to be successful, profitable and forward thinking while also remaining responsible and ethical?
Queen Margaret University, an organisation which has always adhered to a philosophy of improving quality of life, is combining its commitment to social enterprise and belief in social responsibility with its expertise in business management. A team of enterprise and management academics has developed a new Masters level degree aimed at challenging our future business leaders. The MSc in International Management and Leadership aims to ensure that organisational leaders of tomorrow have the awareness and skills to effect positive change – to lead successful enterprises which are aware of their impact on society and the wider global horizons of business. It’s designed to be a cutting edge course which prepares graduates in subjects other than business for a management and leadership career in an increasingly globalised and interconnected world.
One unique aspect of the course is the removal of the traditional dissertation. Instead, students will be expected to apply their business skills and knowledge to positive effect with a charity or other voluntary sector organisation, therefore developing practical skills and identifying real world solutions.
Craig Cathcart, Programme Leader of the MSc in International Management and Leadership at Queen Margaret University, explained: “It’s easy to appear as an effective manager when you’re a cog in a large machine, with access to plenty of staff, budget and resources, and when you are working within a solid infrastructure. But can people cut it in an organisation with very limited resources? Will these managers be able to make a positive difference when the motive is people and not profit? That’s the challenge!”
The introduction of the Community Impact and Practice module will see students designing, implementing and leading a community based project.
Craig continued: “Many people will be surprised by the sheer scale of the voluntary sector. Scotland alone has 45,000 voluntary organisations, employing 137,000 people. We want to see our students – from whatever background - really proving themselves in a very challenging environment, and this course will encourage people to operate outwith their comfort zone.
“It’s a win win situation. At a crucial time for our economy, the voluntary sector organisations will benefit from the extra support and skills provided by the course’s developing managers and leaders, while at the same time, our students will be upskilling and embracing new challenges.”
However, Craig is careful to point out that it’s not about organic Rolodexes or pedal powered lap tops – great ideas though they both may be. He explained: “We are coming at this from a pro business perspective, but we believe that the businesses which are sustainable are the ones which recognise their wider social responsibilities. In partnership with voluntary sector organisations we aim to make that connection – that there is such a thing as society, and businesses are a vital part of it.”
He is convinced that graduates of this course – whatever their background or career destination - will be uniquely equipped to manage and lead in an increasingly complex and dynamic international business environment. However, he also believes that the course will not only expand awareness of social corporate responsibilities; it will also help people recognise the career opportunities that exist for skilled individuals within the increasingly diverse voluntary sector.
Craig Cathcart concluded: “This new Masters course offers future business leaders the opportunity to make a real difference in organisations. Hopefully, whatever the student’s career destination - whether they work in a charity, big business, or go self-employed – this course will provide them with a much clearer idea of social responsibility and how this impacts on the wider picture, as well as giving them a solid all-round business education.”
For further information about this MSc in International Management and Leadership visit www.qmu.ac.uk or call QMU Admissions on 0131 474 0000.
For further media information about this course please contact Craig Cathcart or Richard Bent on E: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 0131 474 0000 or mob: 07966 791964 (Craig Cathcart)