John Mackey, co-CEO and founder of Whole Foods Market © David Parry/ FT
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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email

New ranking: Top MBAs for finance

Stanford Graduate School of Business is top for finance careers in the FT's new ranking. Did you know that business school graduates, working in finance, can double their pre-MBA salary?

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

I interviewed John Mackey, chief executive of Whole Foods Market, the US chain of natural foods stores, in 2013 and he told me he welcomed competitors that tried to imitate its organic, sustainable approach. His wish has come true and now Whole Foods is under pressure from investors, accused of not having covered the basics of traditional food retailing. As I point out in my column this week, having "heart" in business is necessary but not sufficient for survival.

Inevitably, there are calls for Mr Mackey himself to step down from the company he calls "my baby". So for my challenge this week: how would you persuade an inspirational founder to move on, and yet still keep the heart of the business beating? Please just send a couple of sentences to

Last week's challenge was to identify some failed business models, and the lessons learnt from them. I confess I thought more of you would send suggestions, but Pablo Arana came up with a classic case: the one-season-wonder of the XFL American football league, a short-lived joint venture between NBC and the World Wrestling Federation in 2001. One of Pablo's lessons: "Good management in one industry does not necessarily transfer over to all other industries."

I met author Jim "Good to Great" Collins recently for a Lunch with the FT inteview. One of his current projects is to look at self-renewal: why do some people "renew" their lives and careers, and others not? Collins' inspiration is John Gardner, author of a 1964 book called Self-Renewal. I haven't read the book, but my further reading this week is Maria Popova's excellent summary of Gardner's "warm wisdom" for her Brain Pickings website.

FT MBA Quiz video

This year as part of our FT MBA quiz, which raised £16,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières, we asked teams to create a social media video of their experience. We are now pleased to announce that the winner of this challenge is MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business in Italy. Their video strikingly captured all the elements of the event and impressed our editors immensely. Congratulations to MIP and all the teams who took part this year. We look forward to seeing you again next year. For more details, visit #FTMBAquiz on Twitter. Watch the winning video here.

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Zahir Irani, dean of University of Bradford's School of Management, UK, selects:

Business chiefs urge government to set up a productivity watchdog This article is important for students to read for their future careers. Productivity is a measure by which senior managers will increasingly be judged in the coming years.

It is important that they understand what this means in practice. ‘Productivity’ can be a nebulous concept: for economists, the rate of efficiency by which inputs such as labour, capital and raw materials are turned into outputs; for managers, a focus the quality of employees’ performance as well as quantifiable output.

Santander skirts 'zero-hour' contracts with 'one-hour' deals The story reveals that Santander is providing contracts that guarantee workers just one hour of work per month.

Various factors such as exposure to lower wage economies have forced businesses to renew their thinking on labour costs, often resulting in staff benefits, support and training being shaved. However, there are more gains for the organisation from investing in workers by providing long-term contracts — ones that provide flexibility and security can lead to increased job satisfaction. There is plenty of evidence showing that high levels of employee satisfaction and engagement can lead to stronger productivity and financial performance for organisations.

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

Revolutions are exciting because they appear to come out of nowhere. But it could be that what appears like a dramatic shift in society has been happening for a lot longer than we imagine.

This might be the case in the issue of female participation in business school courses, such as the MBA. Female leadership is important, and the concern is that change is not happening fast enough. The proportion of women gaining places on the top MBA courses as judged by the Financial Times has only inched up over the last decade, from 31 per cent in 2008 to 35 per cent in the latest ranking. It is a similar story for female faculty on MBA courses – 23 per cent in 2008 and 27 per cent in 2017.

Below these headline rates, there are signs of change. The number of top 100 schools where 40 per cent or more of MBA students are women has doubled since 2015 with 26 institutions recording this level in the latest FT ranking. Also, 45 schools had 35 per cent or more women on their courses, a 36 per cent rise on 2015.

Leading the charge is the University of Edinburgh Business School, which comes top for gender balance both among students and faculty. Having visited the school and spoken with students and faculty, the reasons behind this are relatively simple but require effort: focus on the needs of individuals, make it easy to join in and get out to attract talented people from a range of backgrounds.

Test your knowledge

How good is your grasp of the news? Test your reading of last week's top stories with the FirstFT quiz.

Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan

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