It’s been close to seventeen years now since I first heard the term Virtual MBA used in business. The company I was working for at the time (a Fortune 500 company with over $12 billion/year revenues as of 2009) used the term to describe their training curriculum for newly hired employees, recruited almost entirely from local colleges and universities. The idea was a clearly defined and institutionalized methodology for developing a practical set of business skills that every employee and naturally the company could benefit from.
These were the, “things they didn’t teach you in college” skill sets for business. They were the skill sets that could be universally applied to almost any business endeavor and which included an intangible component, mindset. It was a practical and holistic business philosophy that drove the symbiosis between customer service, marketing, employee development and ultimately profitability.
None of those practical skill sets were new and there is some historical debate among executives at several companies as to which was first to create a ‘curriculum’ of sorts for their employees. The fact remains that this organization was among the first to practice what they preached and market this “Virtual MBA” as what differentiated them from other companies. It worked and it worked well because over the last three decades the companies ‘Management Trainee Program’ has earned a reputation for producing shrewd, well-rounded business professionals.
Since then I’ve continued to define, refine and expand upon this theme drawing from other organizations and leaders who have continued to sustain excellence even through the economic challenges of the latest recession. Putting the fundamentals into a brief and general overview presentation, I’ve shared this Virtual MBA concept with CEO’s, executives and professionals in a variety of industries across the country. Over the last few years it’s been interesting to observe the interactions with those professionals on the topic. Many have asked my permission to ‘pirate’ my material, keep a copy and/or use what they perceived as my ideas. Professional colleagues, friends and even a few family members have had me help craft the platform for their business reviews as well as VP level job interviews, in which they won out over their competition.
Ironically, there is nothing proprietary in the platform, no secret sauce. Its all just practical business skills, practical business philosophy and some common sense aggregated into an easy to digest set of fundamentals. So I’ve decided to publish a very generic version of this overview here and allow any and all professionals access to these best practices. Additionally, feel free to reach out to me for questions and/or comments on the material in the overview.
Later this month, Jack Welch’s new book, The Real Life MBA becomes available to the general pubic. I have not read it yet but it will be interesting to see how many parallels there are between that book and this concept of the Virtual MBA.