Steven Burton, Associate Dean, KSBL – interview with IBEX
Can you tell us about your educational and professional background?
My educational qualifications include an MBA from the University of Texas in Austin, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from A&M University,Texas.
Prior to joining KSBL, I served as the Director of The University of Texas atAustin’s MBA Program in Dallas and Houston. These were the two largest professional MBA programs at one of the world’s most esteemed universities. I joined UT after graduating with an MBA degree to design and build a Career Services organization for the Executive and Professional MBA programs. When I was appointed the MBA Program Director, the Career Services organization was a team of four serving approximately 600 students. During this time, I also co-founded the first professional organization for Working Professional MBA Career Services leaders (MBA CSWP) aiming to bring together leaders from around the world to share and collaborate on best practices.
Prior to UT, I held engineering, sales and business development positions at IBM, MTS and a boutique executive recruiting firm, SAI.
Why did you choose Pakistan to work?
While at UT, I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Robert F. Wheeler, Dean of KSBL and CEO of KEI. His experience at KSBL and in Karachi was extremely compelling. We talked often and his excitement at the opportunity to build a school of the same caliber as KSBL in a city and country so full of warm and hospitable people attracted me. When he was looking for a key member for his leadership team, I instantly wanted to join KSBL.
Tell us about KSBL and the courses being offered here? Why should a student select this institute?
A group of highly successful Pakistani business leaders and professionals came together with a common goal of advancing education inPakistan. They formed the Karachi Education Initiative (KEI), a non-profit enterprise and agreed that their initial venture will be to establish a world class graduate business school,KarachiSchoolfor Business & Leadership (KSBL). KSBL entered into a strategic collaboration with the Cambridge University’s Judge Business School in 2009. This was the first such initiative in the history of Cambridge University.
Under this agreement,Cambridgeplays a significant role in faculty planning and recruitment, setting up the curriculum for the MBA program, establishing the executive education program and setting up research at KSBL. The MBA degree offered will be in General Management with all major disciplines covered in the curriculum including Finance, Marketing, Management, Leadership, Operations, and Entrepreneurship. Ethics, sustainability and social responsibility will be integral throughout KSBL’s MBA experience. KSBL offers the perfect opportunity to acquire a world-class, international-standard graduate management degree in Pakistan. This will be a transformational academic experience and will develop the immense potential of the young professionals selected to be part of our program.
The KSBL Executive Education short courses (2-3 days) for top corporate executives, launched in May 2010, conducted by Cambridge faculty in the first year is progressing successfully, with an enhanced scope of program for the middle management as well in its second year of operations.
What do you think about the educational system of Pakistan?
The educational system of Pakistan has tremendous potential for growth and development. There are a number of great institutions available to potential students but we believe that there is a great demand for a world-class, international standard MBA program to develop Pakistan’s next leaders. Pakistan needs higher education institutes which can develop the entrepreneurial potential and ethical leadership qualities amongst its students.
When we say Quality Education, it is not only the course and the faculty; it also includes the environment of the institute which grooms a student. How is KSBL offering that environment?
KSBL is designed from all aspects to provide a world-class, international-standard educational experience to students. We will create and deliver an exceptional and transformational student experience and the success and passion of KSBL’s founding visionaries laid a solid foundation to assure this. The strategic collaboration with Cambridge University will assure that the academics of KSBL will be the best possible. The faculty, recruited with the assistance ofCambridge, will be recognized academics and valued researchers in their fields and will be very student centric. KSBL partnered with a world renowned architectural firm, William McDonough and Partners to design an award winning sustainable and environmentally friendly campus which provides the right setting for learning and collaboration. Additionally, it is equipped with the latest interactive audio/video and video-conferencing equipment to expand the learning environment beyond the campus walls. We will recruit and admit students based solely on merit, resulting in a batch of classmates which is amongst the brightest and most motivated in Pakistan.
What is your affiliation with the industry/corporate sector?
KEI/KSBL was founded by some of Pakistan’s top business leaders, industrialists and professionals. Our ties are obviously strong there and also within their network of fellow professionals and business leaders. KSBL executive education offering executive development programs for top corporate executives is developing strong and long term relationships with national and multinational corporations. These associations will be of immense value in future as KSBL will offer applied research opportunities for the industry and career and placement services to its graduates.
How do you compare KSBL with institutes like LUMS and IBA?
The need for high-quality graduate business programs in Pakistan is substantial and LUMS and IBA are two great schools helping to address this need. KSBL’s world-class, international-standard MBA program, in strategic collaboration with Cambridge University, will provide potential students with an opportunity for an exceptional and transformational academic and student experience.
Is the KSBL University degree acceptable everywhere including other countries?
KSBL is in process of and expects to achieve, HEC accreditation inPakistan. In the future, it is expected that we will seek other top international academic accreditations. The KSBL MBA degree should be recognized world-wide.
What advice would you like to give to the new institutes which are being established?
Any start-up venture is extremely challenging. A clear strategy and set of values for what the venture strives to achieve is absolutely required and an understanding of the strategy and values is necessary at all levels within the organization. Each team member must be focused on a common goal to maximize the probability of achieving it. Strong enthusiastic leadership is vital and solid partnerships are important.
What is the future plan for KSBL University?
We are completely focused on pursuing the completion of key milestones for greeting the first cohort of MBA students in Sep 2012. For the next few years our centre of attention will be establishing the KSBL MBA as the premier graduate management degree in Pakistan and the region. At Executive Education, KSBL will keep on offering cutting-edge Executive Development short courses and bringing in highly successful practitioners and leaders in corporate management to deliver regionally focused and relevant open enrolment and customized programs for the top management of Corporate Pakistan.