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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 feedback about FT Business school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leaders under pressure
How do they do it? Find out how senior business leaders deal with adversity, crisis and stress. Read advice from CEOs from a range of companies, including SAP and Lloyds Banking Group, plus former chiefs of Xerox and Anglo American — and watch video interviews about how some of them coped.
How to lead: Estée Lauder
Fabrizio Freda, CEO of the US cosmetics group, features in our weekly series How to Lead. He talks about how the company is trying to win over millennials. Mr Freda also has his own reverse mentor, who teaches him how to use Facebook but 'most importantly, I learn what’s cool.'
Andrew Hill's challenge
The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.
Striking a balance between maintaining the status quo and creating the future is a perennial managerial challenge. This week, I've written about what we should do about guarding "institutional memory" — which is so often sacrificed when layers of management are cut. What happens as organisations turn into fluid networks of contractors and subcontractors working on strings of projects? If there is no institution, do workers need memory at all? Can the internet substitute for years of lessons learnt by a company about what worked and what did not?
For my challenge this week, I'd like to hear your ideas about how to guard best practice against inevitable decay as technology advances and old hands leave. Is it something like Intelpedia, Intel's corporate 'wiki', or Nasa's knowledge policy, or some quite different analogue alternative? Please send your concise suggestions to email@example.com.
In further reading, I recommend Wired's long read about the crisis of fake news and illicit election influencing that has hit Facebook over the past two years. It's a cautionary tale of a social media giant hoist by its own algorithms and forced, as the writers put it, to put "a car in reverse that had been driving at full speed in one direction for 14 years".
Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.
Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work and globalisation at London School of Economics, Department of Management, selects:
SMEs can challenge big beasts by snapping up AI benefits first Robotic process automation is the deployment of software that automates routine physical and cognitive information tasks performed by humans. Typically, RPA covers back-office work, but it has been used in manufacturing, consulting and healthcare.
Students need to be aware of how RPA and AI can benefit the workplace. The article looks at an example of ‘a life sciences company that has used robotic process to speed the development of drug formulations. In one case, the effectiveness of the drug was measured by counting cells in a biopsy, identifying whether or not each cell was affected by the disease.’ This repetitive task was previously carried out by a scientist.
One of the positive features of RPA is that it can be configured by business professionals through an easy-to-use interface — so no programming skills required. Using the software also frees workers to focus on tasks that play to human strengths, such as creativity.
Jonathan Moules's business school news
If you wondered how people can possibly pay the six-figure tuition fees now charged by the world’s premium brand MBA courses, the answer is that many cannot. What smart students do is to secure grant funding for their fees. Scholarships are now the most important funding source for business school fees, according to exam administrator the Graduate Management Admission Council, which is why I have looked at the issue from the student perspective this week.
The payoff from an MBA is widely accepted to be what students earn in the years after graduation. But money is not everything, which is one of the reasons why the FT now ranks schools by other factors, such as how much they support those looking to start businesses.
Another way to look at schools is how much they help female students, which was the spur for our latest ranking of MBA courses for women, which has proved highly popular online. Expect more of this research in the future.
Ask the academics
Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.
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Edited by Wai Kwen Chan — email@example.com