Date: 25th May 2018
Professor Ian Burnett
Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology
University of Technology Sydney
Two weeks ago, the MBT Board successfully delivered an “MBT Speakers’ night” event in collaboration with UTS (FEIT) marketing, where we showcased the quality of our alumni and lecturers with a view to increasing the intake on the Master of Business and Technology (MBT) program. 150 people registered (70 future students) and on the night we had around 80 people in total attending the event. The feedback from the audience was fantastic and we are certain that it will have an impact on the intake of new students for the MBT program in Spring semester.
On the same night, it was brought to our attention that there are definitive plans to move the MBT into the Business Faculty. This came as a surprise to us especially as in latter years we have been actively engaged by UTS, and FEIT in particular, to participate on different advisory boards, focus groups and in other events, with the request to share the MBT Community experience and to help shape the future of current and future degrees. Furthermore, we have not been approached at all by UTS to provide our views on this important change which will have a deep impact on the MBT Program and Community.
Therefore, we feel compelled to set out our unsolicited views against this decision.
The MBT’s mission is to: develop talented, technology-savvy, people into innovative business leaders.
Since 1994, the program has made a significant contribution to the professional and personal life of all MBT students in line with its mission. In particular, as noted below, many MBT alumni have reached the highest levels in the corporate world or have founded successful new enterprises. Examples include:
The MBT mission is even more relevant today than it was when the program was created by UTS in 1994. The exponential growth, and ubiquitous influence, of technology in all industries has created a dearth of leaders who understand the strategic value of technology, and who can leverage the leadership practices that enable a business to exploit the competitive advantages offered by innovative technologies. The MBT, with its unique offering, has proven to be able to address this need more successfully than traditional MBAs and, by hosting such a leadership program, FEIT has differentiated itself positively among university engineering faculties. We fear that the move to the Business Faculty will result in the MBT being molded to fit into an MBA offering with all the limitations of which industry leaders are aware.
In this respect, the MBT has three key differentiators (in comparison with traditional MBAs):
We believe that moving the MBT in the Business Faculty will result in a death sentence for this unique and prestigious program that has contributed significantly to the brand value of UTS and FEIT. We are well-aware of the challenges that the MBT is currently facing in terms of the recent decline in enrolments but, in our view, this situation is a consequence of the lack of planning with respect to Ken Dovey’s retirement in June 2017, and the failure to recruit an appropriate successor prior to Ken’s departure.
The MBT Board raised the succession planning issue well ahead of Ken Dovey’s retirement. We suggested having a six month (minimum) hand-over between him and the new MBT Director but, given his successor was not appointed until three months after his departure, this did not occur. As a result, the MBT community has lost confidence in the effectiveness of any successor to maintain the quality of the program; a consequence of which has been the community’s refrainment from referring new students to the program (in our analysis usually 50% of the students come through community referrals). At the same time, most students made sure that they completed any subjects taught by Ken before his retirement, which also explains the drop in numbers in 2018 for the subjects he had taught.
In conclusion, as long as the MBT remains in the FEIT, operating under the same conditions (highlighted in this letter as key differentiators), we will continue to support UTS and FEIT, as demonstrated by the event two weeks ago, and to promote the MBT brand in order ensure that it survives and thrives.
Look forward to hearing back from you soon.
MBT Board Chair
Program Architect, NAB