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Program Spotlight: Why The MBA Focuses On What Drives Business Now Director Catherine Honig explains why leadership important to students and organizations

In business, leadership is paramount. Businesses look for those who will drive change, make key decisions and inspire an organization to greater success.

It’s something NLU’s College of Professional Studies and Advancement has recognized. It focuses its acclaimed MBA program on leadership, offering curriculum tracks and career development to help students sharpen their skills and increase their employability. Accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), the program continues to provide students with key business skills in areas such as finance, economics, marketing and strategy.

Catherine Honig, associate professor and director of the MBA program, shares her vision about the value of NLU’s MBA in the Q & A below. Honig holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and joined NLU in 1990. She has taught management and leadership courses for nearly 30 years and has focused on online learning for more than a decade.

Why does NLU’s MBA program focus on leadership?

The college’s graduate faculty places a high premium on making sure that the content of the program reflects current business trends and the prevailing economic climate while also meeting students’ career development goals. So we are always thinking about ways to continuously improve what we do. MBA faculty reflect upon not only industry and marketplace trends, but also on what we are hearing from our students and our organizational partners. What has emerged from our discussions and data was a very clear read that a leadership-focused MBA would be a value-added enhancement from the point of view of both students and organizations.

What needs does NLU’s MBA address?

Focusing on leadership in an MBA program addresses multiple goals. Practitioners and academics alike have called for an increased emphasis in this area in MBA programs, largely because even a cursory review of organizational successes (and failures) points directly to the impact of leadership. It’s a powerful common denominator across industries, organizations and sectors, and it raises important questions about how to strategically drive change, influence decisions and inspire others to new levels of innovation.

Earning an MBA also is about career advancement, so it is important to think in those terms when redefining an MBA curriculum. Adding a leadership theme provides enhanced career opportunity and career flexibility for students by building into the program knowledge and skills that are relevant across organizational environments and also across the trajectory of a career. Whether someone is leading a team, managing a project or starting a new business, the ability to accomplish goals through others is equally valuable and significant.

In a crowded MBA program field, what makes NLU stand out?

The focus on leadership is a distinguishing feature that we’re really excited about. The program will introduce the leadership theme via a course called “Leadership and Organizational Behavior.” It will apply a workshop-style format to introduce contemporary leadership perspectives. In particular, we’ll be introducing authentic leadership, a framework that focuses strongly on leading from a place of passion, connectedness and integrity. This is a theme that resonates strongly with our students, and the new “Leadership and Organizational Behavior” course gives us a chance to increase the depth of exploration.

In addition, each course in the MBA program will incorporate an online “career corner” that underscores the link between the course content (such as finance or marketing) and the specific role that leadership can play in driving that organizational function. This approach will be supported by an online career development tool that will allow us to bring potential career opportunities into sharper focus for our students

How well do you think the MBA program is preparing grad-level business students for leadership roles?

Supporting MBA students in meeting their professional development and career goals is essentially synonymous with preparing them to lead, and both the content and the delivery approach of the MBA program play important roles in ensuring that we meet this objective. The major learning outcomes of the MBA program — which drive course content across the curriculum — address both critical business functions and key leadership competencies. Application assignments, case studies and simulations help deliver content in ways that encourage strategic integration of key business areas in addressing challenges and solving real-life problems. Feedback from students tells us that these application-oriented opportunities are eye-opening learning experiences.