The UK’s Association of MBAs looks set for a major shake-up following the resignation of three of its board of directors in the past three months and its failure to appoint a replacement for its chief executive Sharon Bamford, who resigned suddenly nearly six months ago.
Rob Dixon, dean of Durham University Business School in the UK, is one of two new appointees to the Amba board, but he told the FT that he had taken the position on the understanding of changes at the top. “I think the balance of representation on the board is wrong,” he says.
Amba is well-known globally as a business school accreditation body, in particular for its validation of MBA programmes. However, on its governing body, the International Board of Trustees, only two of the 12 members represent business schools, and these are co-opted by the board of trustees.
The bulk of the other trustees, including the chairman, are individual MBA graduates who belong to the membership arm of the organisation and are elected by other members.
Prof Dixon says that he intends to be a “fairly forceful representative” for the business schools. “The whole nature of the organisation over the past 10 to 15 years has changed [from a membership organisation to an an accreditation body] and the board has to change with that. I think most business school deans would feel that 50 per cent [business school representation] is the minimum number.”
Joseph Connolly, a visiting finance professor at ENPC in Paris resigned from the Amba board on February 17, following similar moves by Colm Kearney, dean of the business school at Monash University in Australia and business woman Jacqueline McCouat, both in the last two months of 2012. Prof Kearney says his resignation was due to the logistical difficulties of travelling to the UK.
Meanwhile Amba has recently appointed a head-hunting firm to find a chief executive to run the organisation on a day-to-day basis. Ms Bamford resigned from Amba in August 2012 after two years in the job. Her two predecessors, Jeanette Purcell and Mike Jones, both resigned from Amba following disagreements with the board over strategic direction and governance.
Prof Dixon says the new chief executive will need to be forceful. “Whoever gets it has to have credibility with both sides of the Amba house and that’s a big ask in itself.”