The iPad, Copenhagen syndrome and well, yes, the economy

Whether or not it’s just a big iPhone, the launch of the iPad was eagerly awaited. But around the World the audience hesitated in breaking out in the kind of raptures that are normally seen when Steve Jobs take centre stage. He didn’t seem too impressed either. We’ll have to wait and see but I admit I’m not Googling for the nearest Apple dealership and my credit card sits nicely tucked away in my purse.

Yes, I admit I’ve been quiet about the economy lately. And to be frank I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate just yet. I guess you saw that Standard & Poor issued a warning to Japan about its borrowing (this kind of warning normally comes just before a downgrading of a country’s credit rating), the UK’s borrowing is in the news for all the wrong reasons and soon Greece may qualify for the joke that went around the World about Iceland not too long ago. Missed that? Ohh here it is: “What’s the capital of Iceland?”  “Five pounds, fifty” or some similar small amount of money in your local currency.

To a Dane, the headline “Obama and the Copenhagen Syndrome” had to spark an interest. It was a piece in the WSJ Europe edition by Bret Stephens. Stephens describes the Copenhagen Syndrome as a belief in your own ability to create a miracle. It is the Copenhagen Syndrome because Obama twice recently has come to Copenhagen hoping to dramatically influence a decision, first about the host city for the 2016 Olympics and most recently at the UN climate change summit. On both occasions Obama arrived late, maybe expecting his presence to alter the situation, and on both occasions the decisions did not go is way. In the case of the 2016 Olympics Chicago was overlooked in favour of Rio de Janeiro and most recently at the UN climate change summit, well you can say the World was overlooked in favour of money.

Talent or tablet?

If your game is talent then may I suggest that you check out this year’s MBA talent at: http://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/partners/business/recruitment. We have a number of talented people looking for jobs after their studies so feel free to browse the short but informative profiles.

Otherwise, I suppose the World is holding its breath (a weird image came into my mind while writing that…) in anticipation of  Apple’s product launch later today. It is a pretty safe bet that it is some sort of tablet computer, dubbed the iTablet. And the World expect Steve Jobs to be the one presenting this new gadget. Only another couple of hours to go. One thing we can be assured of is that it will be uniquely Apple. Love it or hate it. Many love it it seems after Apple’s announcement a few days ago of a 50% increase in profits. The iPhone adds to this.

New FT rankings

Yesterday saw the publication of the 2010 MBA rankings by the Financial Times. After last year, needless to say, I reached for the table hesitantly.

On the positive side: it is the 10th consecutive year that the Edinburgh MBA features in the global top 100 and a break-down suggest that we are 15th in the UK, 24th in Europe. And it was good to see that we had moved up a bit to 89th in the World. You may remember that this time last year I suggested that we had been over valued in 2008. A rank of 89 to me is under-valued so if we were a share then you should buy us now.

I think I also wrote about about playing the rankings game. All schools do that to some extent but I can’t ever see the Edinburgh MBA commit to this game 100%. If so then we are to reject people who want to set up their own business because such people rarely make a lot of money three years after graduation (40% of the FT ranking is based on salary and salary increase) and we should not accept people with long exciting careers who want to top-up their knowledge because they will probably not see a big salary increase after graduation. If you study the mechanics of the FT rankings then you can find more examples yourself.
We will not do that! But we will continue to take in an intelligent and diverse truly international class who will be able to study business from a number of different angles/areas/background/insights/etc.

Do you want to hear more?

Then meet us at one of the MBA Fairs that we will attend later this year: Toronto 21 February  *  Washington DC 25 February  *  New York 28 February  *  Rome 13 March  *  Moscow 23 March  *  Lagos 17 April  *  Johannesburg 19 April. Details can be found on the TopMBA website.

Yesterday saw the publication of the 2010 MBA rankings by the Financial Times. After last year, needless to say, I reached for the table hesitantly.

On the positive side: it is the 10th consecutive year that the Edinburgh MBA features in the global top 100 and a break-down suggest that we are 15th in the UK, 24th in Europe. And it was good to see that we had moved up a bit to 89th in the World. You may remember that this time last year I suggested that we had been over valued in 2008. A rank of 89 to me is under-valued so if we were a share then you should buy us now.

I think I also wrote about about playing the rankings game. All schools do that to some extent but I can’t ever see the Edinburgh MBA commit to this game 100%. If so then we are to reject people who want to set up their own business because such people rarely make a lot of money three years after graduation (40% of the FT ranking is based on salary and salary increase) and we should not accept people with long exciting careers who want to top-up their knowledge because they will probably not see a big salary increase after graduation. If you study the mechanics of the FT rankings then you can find more examples yourself.
We will not do that! But we will continue to take in an intelligent and diverse truly international class who will be able to study business from a number of different angles/areas/background/insights/etc.

Do you want to hear more?

Horsewomen make good leaders

I saw the most remarkable bit of news on a Norwegian website last week. It referred to a piece of research carried out in Sweden which evidences that girls who grew up working with horses made better leaders later in business life.  Horse riding showed remarkable differences in this context when compared to other spare time activities. It was explained that girls’ leadership skills were developed through dealing with animals, other riders, trouble solving, and leadership in the stables. Because girls will meet a lot of other girls they will realise that this is one game where good looks will not bring status. They will need other skills like crisis management, collaboration and leadership; all in small scale of course. So buy a horse for your daughter if you want her to do well in business life.

Looking across the Atlantic, Massachusetts Safe Democrat Seat turned out not to be safe after all, when Republican Scott Brown secured the Senate seat left vacant after the death of Edward Kennedy. Quite apart from the surprise win this is could be a blow to Barack Obama’s healthcare reform. The loss of the Massachusetts seat means that the Democrats lose the 60-seat majority in the Senate.  Is this a message to Mr Obama? With his rating falling from 68% to 50% it would seem so but it is fair to say that Mr Obama has not had an easy start. He took the office during a major recession in the USA and as magic wands have a very long lead time it could not be expected that the mere charisma of the man would change everything, not even in a year.

Reading other news it made me proud to see that Danish Maersk Line, part of the A.P. Møller Group, is shipping aid to Haiti for free. The company contacted FN last week with the offer and aid will be shipped for free even it is not shipped from the some 50 terminals that Maersk Line normally services.

The place has come alive again

Like Sleeping Beauty the School has come alive again, not by the kiss of a handsome prince but through the return of the students for the start of the new term today. It’s good to have them back. Most could tell tales of travel woe, caused by the snow in Europe and other parts of the world, and all could tell tales of a nice break. So now we’re off on the specialisation part of the programme with everybody taking a different set of electives. Soon, we’ll add the Consultancy Project to workload for the full-time class while the IB class is planning their exchanges. There’s always something new taking place.

I saw in the news today that China is reported to have overtaken the US as the world’s biggest car market in 2009. At the same time oil demands from China prompt the oil prices to hit $84 a barrel. Both are signs of a booming Chinese economy. I wonder though how China will fare in the future with the gender imbalance becoming more prominent? The Chinese Academy of Social Science reports that up to 24 million men seeking a wife in 2020 could be disappointed – for every 100 girls born in China, 119 boys are born. This is caused by the one-child policy and the fact that gender-specific abortions allegedly are common, owing to male offspring being favoured in Chinese culture. The Book of Songs, an ancient collection of Chinese poems, suggest that boys should sleep in beds, be clothed in finery and play with jade, while girls should sleep on the ground, be wrapped in rags and play with broken tiles. China, however, is not the only country where you see such a gender imbalance.  According to the 2006 World Development Report the gender imbalance in some states in Indian have become alarming. You can find the World Development Reports via The World Bank. “So what?,” you might say but researchers of demographics claim that such an imbalance is likely to upset society considerably.  Why? Well, because a surplus of men is likely to increase crime rates and general disorder – without the calming influence of women men become restless, and are seen to be more prone to attempt to better their situation through crime. It has also be seen to cause in increased trafficking of women.

Elsewhere a clash between Microsoft and i4i, a clash that i4i won, has now produced a ban on Microsoft selling certain versions of Word and Office. The injunction was scheduled to go into effect today after Microsoft in December lost an appeal on the ruling from August 2009. Further on the technology front – did you see  the ‘almost indestructible’ hard drive?

Did you have snow as well?

Yes, as you see I’m back after a very nice Christmas break. Just as was the case for many other people my Christmas travels were upset by the snow but I made it. Some didn’t so I have to count myself lucky. But the UK is still feeling the brunt of icy cold climate streaming in from Scandinavia and Siberia: airports and schools have closed, trains and cars have stranded in the snow, and people stagger carefully along the icy pavements. The good thing is that Spring will be here eventually.

It is very quiet in the building this week with just a few students around. MBA classes begin on Monday next week and then we are off again with classes in Business Finance, International Business, Management Consultancy and many other subjects. Then it will also be my pleasure to welcome a number of exchange students into the programme from Schulich, ESSEC, EADA and Fisher in Ohio.

I saw in the news that two ex-cabinet ministers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon call for a ballot on Gordon Brown’s continued leadership of the UK Labour Party. Depending on what they want to achieve, I think it’s fair to question the timing of this call. Whatever your political colour this is not what a governing party needs in time of a deep crisis and just before an election.