Ginny Gibson, Deputy Dean, looks back to the future

29 January 2016

Ginny Gibson, Deputy Dean, looks back to the future

Deputy Dean, Professor Ginny Gibson, looks at the key drivers of change for both business and business education during the Business School's history and over the next 70 years.

In conjunction with our 70th Anniversary celebrations, I have looked back 70 years to the key drivers of change that informed Henley’s early days, aiming to identify their impact on the way in which we operate as a business school, both now and in the future.

I would say that very similar key drivers will be as significant in the next seven decades as they were when we taught our very first General Management programme back in the 1940s, namely:

So let's look at each of these four strands:

  • Technology – this has changed beyond all recognition; we didn’t have Twitter even 10 years ago and the first iPad only arrived in 2010. Who would be brave enough to predict what the next 70 years will bring? What I would say is that regardless of innovations in technology, there will still be people leading organisations and while the style of leadership and the tools available may change, our job will still be to support the development of outstanding leaders.
  • Globalisation – every decade witnesses a shift in the economic world order and I have no doubt we will see the continued rise of not only Asia, but also Africa. From the very early years, Henley has had an international outlook and impact, so being well set up to grow and develop with these regions, I am sure our future presence and engagement is likely to deepen.
  • Social change, employee and customer expectations – the continued shift in influence and power towards customers and employees. Both groups are driving changes in organisations’ strategies, whether that be the need to improve customer relationships and responsiveness through social media or the continued war for talent and the move to portfolio careers. These trends impact what we teach and the insights we provide, so in terms of the future we will need to stay close to and abreast of these trends as they will drive our new research agendas.
  • Attitudes to risk, ethics and governance – these areas have always been part of the Business School’s DNA. During the last 70 years some schools lost sight of these, with a sole focus on the financial bottom line. With economic pressures, there is a risk that this will happen again – an increasing focus on big data and analytics. Although these will be important and ‘in the mix’, understanding the softer influence of risk, ethical practice and good governance will always underpin what we do.