Intervie – Thinking ASEAN in business

Reading Time: 7 minutes
SJ DeKrey AIM official photo - Sept 5, 2012
Dr. Steven J. DeKrey, President of Asian Institute of Management

The Asian Institute of Management (AIM) is a private graduate school of business and public management in Metro Manila, Philippines. Inside Investor talked to its president, Dr. Steven J. DeKrey, about the development of one of the few business schools in Asia that is internationally accredited and has the ambitious target to become THE business school of ASEAN.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of AIM?

A: AIM was founded in 1968 upon the initiative of three universities, with Harvard asked to provide the expertise. They brought over some executives and prominent alumni, set up AIM, and implemented the case method, which is the predominantly used teaching method in all our courses. Forty-five years later, we have retained some Harvard connections; we have visitors from there and do some special events to keep that link. Harvard has initiated only a few case method-based business schools globally, which are Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada, Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, IMD in Switzerland, INCAE in Central America, and ourselves. That makes us the only case-based business school in Asia, although Richard Ivey does some work in Hong Kong with executives. Furthermore, we have graduate programmes only, no undergraduate or doctorate studies. We are a master’s school as we were founded as an MBA campus. We have a one-year Master in Management that is similar to the Sloan programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or at Stanford University. We are also offering the Master in Development Management, or MDM, which is focused on developing countries in ASEAN and their public officers. Here we bring in representatives from government, non-governmental organizations, and diplomacy. This course takes 11 months.

Q: Your programmes are designed for mid-career education. Are you focused on educating the future leaders of ASEAN at management level?

A: Our focus is definitely ASEAN, and our intention is to mix the MDM students with the MBA and design the kind of education that leaders in Southeast Asia need―a triple-bottom line education. That fits us very well, and we will be going in that direction. AIM is a pioneer in regional management education with a very strong knowledge base and resource base in Southeast Asian countries, the complexities of crossing borders are known to us, and we’d like to prepare our graduates to face those.

Q: Who are your graduates?

A: We have 40,000, with half of them from the Philippines and the others mostly from Asia, but also from the US and elsewhere. Ten per cent are from Indonesia, 10 per cent from Malaysia, 6 per cent from India, 2 per cent from Singapore, and about 1 per cent from Hong Kong. The students are from various industries. Forty thousand is a big number, but it includes our non-degree students who do our three- or four-week programmes and whom we call alumni, in the same way Harvard does. Degree students make up about a third of the 40,000.

Q: What is the main orientation of your courses?

A: They are all management-oriented, for example in marketing, in top-management courses for senior people, and in financial programmes. We have more than 20 such short programmes in addition to the MBA and MDM, and senior people can also take an Executive MBA. We will also initiate a new programme, the EMBA for Entrepreneurship, which will be held partly online starting in September 2013. We make sure that our graduates leave the caseroom with the basic skills and knowledge to become excellent leaders and managers.

In Ned Herrmann’s theory of whole brain development, the four quadrants of the brain need to be developed in an MBA program and in life. A top leader needs to be knowledgeable, be sociable, be organized, and be a big-picture, strategic thinker. The case method contributes to the development of the whole brain. Team orientation enhances social skills. Cases develop forward thinking. The core curriculum builds intellectual capability. You can’t get through the curriculum unless you are organized. AIM programmes, by virtue of their diversity of intake and case method, develop the whole brain. We also enhance greatly the confidence of our students because of our teaching methods, and their capability of identifying and addressing problems and decision-making. That will prepare them to compete and lead globally.

AIM lobby ceilingQ: How have your courses changed with the development of ASEAN? Are you trying to define an ASEAN way of leadership?

A: Our vision is to be the global source of ASEAN talent, insights, and wisdom. AIM will contribute to ASEAN’s growth by studying the integration of the ASEAN Economic Community. In this region, the need is huge for broader understanding of the impact of managers and what they can do. AIM’s case method gives participants a direct window into relevant practitioner issues. While other regional business schools are more empirical research-oriented, AIM is pump-priming funding for ASEAN cases and journal articles. Our MDM programme has been there for 24 years and has adopted new challenges such as public planning, creating better jobs, reaching Millennium Development Goals, and all that. Our school has actually been doing that before these topics came up as we know that the Philippines needs it. It is a big country with a lot of issues to resolve, but it has talented people. We interact with the local market and relate to and develop talent for Southeast Asia. We are actually the only business school in the region doing that. Comparable institutions, for example in Singapore, don’t have this ASEAN focus, interestingly, or are even paying intention to what integration is going to mean.  We, on the other hand, are “ASEANising” our programmes, so to say. Our refocus on ASEAN is an important direction for our faculty, curriculum, and research interests. By teaching our students about ASEAN, we will equip them and their companies with the knowledge and capability to compete in the region, to open offices in other ASEAN countries, to trade with them, etc.

Q: Who is your competition?

A: The top schools in Asia, of course. Our competitive edge is the ASEAN component, the development angle, and the case method. That makes us unique. And we are part of ASEAN. On all this we can leverage.

Q: Would you look to increase your non-Philippine focus?

A: Speaking of the MBA programme, the Filipinos are already in the minority. The Indians are strongly represented there. We also have students from Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Thailand. Although their English proficiency is not strong, in their own language they are doing well. We will definitely increase diversity in the future.

Q: Would you offer courses in ASEAN languages rather than English?

A: Doubtful. The executives and the people who are running the bigger enterprises have to be English speakers, and English is the global business language. The Philippines has a great advantage here, as well as Singapore, although they are not interested in ASEAN-focused programmes. But there will be huge demand: ASEAN has about 600 million people and just a few business schools, compared with the US that has 300 million population and 2,000 business schools. Once people accept that business education is useful, the market will boom, and that is what is happening in Asia.

Q: What are your partnerships within the region?

A: The ASEAN Secretariat has endorsed the implementation of AIM’s Program for Senior Public Managers, or PSPM, in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The PSPM Mekong Program offers a set of AIM certificate courses in the four Mekong countries: Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Outstanding PSPM students will be invited to attend the Master in Development Management at AIM under a special scholarship. AIM has been a partner of the Asian Development Bank, or ADB, in Knowledge Creation and Networking through the ADB-AIM Knowledge Hub. About 400 AIM students have been beneficiaries of the ADB-Japan Scholarship Program since 1988. AIM is a founding member of the Association of Asia-Pacific Business Schools, or AAPBS, which has 130 school and corporate members. Its purpose is to provide leadership and representation to advance the quality of business and management education in the Asia Pacific. Dean Ricardo Lim is the AAPBS president for 2013. We just signed a partnership with the Management Association of the Philippines, or MAP, which is already coming close to an ASEAN orientation. We also have a connection with the Partnership in International Management, or PIM, a network of business schools which enables the top-performing MBA students to spend a term in partner schools on an exchange basis. With regard to the private sector, we have seven research centres that are funded by the industry, and this makes our industry link, as well as our alumni do. These kinds of networks are helping our students a lot. On the other hand, the industry is also very interested in what we are doing, including the recruiters.

AIM BuildingQ: What are your online courses?

A: We see it as a future way of teaching. It’s in the experiment stage, for example the EMBA for Entrepreneurship. We have a web provider that offers us some marketing support. However, it is not strictly online, but also has a face-to-face component. I think employers do not feel comfortable with graduates of 100 per cent online courses. Leadership is about teamwork and interpersonal skills, communication and influencing others, and these cannot be taught just online. So we have hybrid courses. Although there are also high-end online courses on the market, for example those ranked in The Financial Times, that are quite sophisticated with interactive platforms.

Q: In the next five years, where would you see AIM?

A: We would like to be among the top five schools in Asia and the No. 1 school focused on ASEAN. We have a very realistic chance for that. By achieving that, we can also become global. We have identified goals in many sectors and dimensions to reach these targets, including faculty and student diversity, curriculum innovation, and research and case-writing capacity. The strategies require infusion of capital for new physical facilities, faculty development, research buildup, scholarships, and programme innovation. Regionally, we see that the new investment focus lies mainly on Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but we are also strong in Malaysia and Thailand, even Brunei. Our immediate target is Indonesia, where we are negotiating a new partnership with Universitas Pelita Harapan, one of the top private schools in the country. They want our help to build a business school. Indonesia is moving quickly, and we want to be part of it.

Q: Do you think top business schools from the US or Europe will come here?

A: It is not easy for them to set up a new institution from scratch. Those who have done this were struggling and it took quite some time. The question is: Who would come here? We have a base here and have an advantage over others that might want to set up operations here unless they build a really big campus. In one way I would welcome Western influence here, but we are the indigenous business school. We understand ASEAN and have the expertise that others are lacking. Even more, most of the local schools here are copycats, Western transplants. We have the advantage of going the “ASEAN way”. The ASEAN Community is new stuff; it does not fully exist yet. And we want to be part of its beginning.

Q: Is there something like “ASEAN thinking” in business and economy?

A: If the East follows the West, the consumption would be huge and the world could not sustain it. Just upgrading the middle class and making them buy cars and houses and consume is not the right way. There are ways of going about this without destroying the Earth, with social enterprises and responsible, sensitive, and community-oriented economic thinking that is part of our courses. It is not just about GDP driving economies. Asia can go in a different direction, and we hope that it does.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Dr. Steven J. DeKrey, President of Asian Institute of Management

The Asian Institute of Management (AIM) is a private graduate school of business and public management in Metro Manila, Philippines. Inside Investor talked to its president, Dr. Steven J. DeKrey, about the development of one of the few business schools in Asia that is internationally accredited and has the ambitious target to become THE business school of ASEAN.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

SJ DeKrey AIM official photo - Sept 5, 2012
Dr. Steven J. DeKrey, President of Asian Institute of Management

The Asian Institute of Management (AIM) is a private graduate school of business and public management in Metro Manila, Philippines. Inside Investor talked to its president, Dr. Steven J. DeKrey, about the development of one of the few business schools in Asia that is internationally accredited and has the ambitious target to become THE business school of ASEAN.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of AIM?

A: AIM was founded in 1968 upon the initiative of three universities, with Harvard asked to provide the expertise. They brought over some executives and prominent alumni, set up AIM, and implemented the case method, which is the predominantly used teaching method in all our courses. Forty-five years later, we have retained some Harvard connections; we have visitors from there and do some special events to keep that link. Harvard has initiated only a few case method-based business schools globally, which are Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada, Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, IMD in Switzerland, INCAE in Central America, and ourselves. That makes us the only case-based business school in Asia, although Richard Ivey does some work in Hong Kong with executives. Furthermore, we have graduate programmes only, no undergraduate or doctorate studies. We are a master’s school as we were founded as an MBA campus. We have a one-year Master in Management that is similar to the Sloan programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or at Stanford University. We are also offering the Master in Development Management, or MDM, which is focused on developing countries in ASEAN and their public officers. Here we bring in representatives from government, non-governmental organizations, and diplomacy. This course takes 11 months.

Q: Your programmes are designed for mid-career education. Are you focused on educating the future leaders of ASEAN at management level?

A: Our focus is definitely ASEAN, and our intention is to mix the MDM students with the MBA and design the kind of education that leaders in Southeast Asia need―a triple-bottom line education. That fits us very well, and we will be going in that direction. AIM is a pioneer in regional management education with a very strong knowledge base and resource base in Southeast Asian countries, the complexities of crossing borders are known to us, and we’d like to prepare our graduates to face those.

Q: Who are your graduates?

A: We have 40,000, with half of them from the Philippines and the others mostly from Asia, but also from the US and elsewhere. Ten per cent are from Indonesia, 10 per cent from Malaysia, 6 per cent from India, 2 per cent from Singapore, and about 1 per cent from Hong Kong. The students are from various industries. Forty thousand is a big number, but it includes our non-degree students who do our three- or four-week programmes and whom we call alumni, in the same way Harvard does. Degree students make up about a third of the 40,000.

Q: What is the main orientation of your courses?

A: They are all management-oriented, for example in marketing, in top-management courses for senior people, and in financial programmes. We have more than 20 such short programmes in addition to the MBA and MDM, and senior people can also take an Executive MBA. We will also initiate a new programme, the EMBA for Entrepreneurship, which will be held partly online starting in September 2013. We make sure that our graduates leave the caseroom with the basic skills and knowledge to become excellent leaders and managers.

In Ned Herrmann’s theory of whole brain development, the four quadrants of the brain need to be developed in an MBA program and in life. A top leader needs to be knowledgeable, be sociable, be organized, and be a big-picture, strategic thinker. The case method contributes to the development of the whole brain. Team orientation enhances social skills. Cases develop forward thinking. The core curriculum builds intellectual capability. You can’t get through the curriculum unless you are organized. AIM programmes, by virtue of their diversity of intake and case method, develop the whole brain. We also enhance greatly the confidence of our students because of our teaching methods, and their capability of identifying and addressing problems and decision-making. That will prepare them to compete and lead globally.

AIM lobby ceilingQ: How have your courses changed with the development of ASEAN? Are you trying to define an ASEAN way of leadership?

A: Our vision is to be the global source of ASEAN talent, insights, and wisdom. AIM will contribute to ASEAN’s growth by studying the integration of the ASEAN Economic Community. In this region, the need is huge for broader understanding of the impact of managers and what they can do. AIM’s case method gives participants a direct window into relevant practitioner issues. While other regional business schools are more empirical research-oriented, AIM is pump-priming funding for ASEAN cases and journal articles. Our MDM programme has been there for 24 years and has adopted new challenges such as public planning, creating better jobs, reaching Millennium Development Goals, and all that. Our school has actually been doing that before these topics came up as we know that the Philippines needs it. It is a big country with a lot of issues to resolve, but it has talented people. We interact with the local market and relate to and develop talent for Southeast Asia. We are actually the only business school in the region doing that. Comparable institutions, for example in Singapore, don’t have this ASEAN focus, interestingly, or are even paying intention to what integration is going to mean.  We, on the other hand, are “ASEANising” our programmes, so to say. Our refocus on ASEAN is an important direction for our faculty, curriculum, and research interests. By teaching our students about ASEAN, we will equip them and their companies with the knowledge and capability to compete in the region, to open offices in other ASEAN countries, to trade with them, etc.

Q: Who is your competition?

A: The top schools in Asia, of course. Our competitive edge is the ASEAN component, the development angle, and the case method. That makes us unique. And we are part of ASEAN. On all this we can leverage.

Q: Would you look to increase your non-Philippine focus?

A: Speaking of the MBA programme, the Filipinos are already in the minority. The Indians are strongly represented there. We also have students from Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Thailand. Although their English proficiency is not strong, in their own language they are doing well. We will definitely increase diversity in the future.

Q: Would you offer courses in ASEAN languages rather than English?

A: Doubtful. The executives and the people who are running the bigger enterprises have to be English speakers, and English is the global business language. The Philippines has a great advantage here, as well as Singapore, although they are not interested in ASEAN-focused programmes. But there will be huge demand: ASEAN has about 600 million people and just a few business schools, compared with the US that has 300 million population and 2,000 business schools. Once people accept that business education is useful, the market will boom, and that is what is happening in Asia.

Q: What are your partnerships within the region?

A: The ASEAN Secretariat has endorsed the implementation of AIM’s Program for Senior Public Managers, or PSPM, in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The PSPM Mekong Program offers a set of AIM certificate courses in the four Mekong countries: Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Outstanding PSPM students will be invited to attend the Master in Development Management at AIM under a special scholarship. AIM has been a partner of the Asian Development Bank, or ADB, in Knowledge Creation and Networking through the ADB-AIM Knowledge Hub. About 400 AIM students have been beneficiaries of the ADB-Japan Scholarship Program since 1988. AIM is a founding member of the Association of Asia-Pacific Business Schools, or AAPBS, which has 130 school and corporate members. Its purpose is to provide leadership and representation to advance the quality of business and management education in the Asia Pacific. Dean Ricardo Lim is the AAPBS president for 2013. We just signed a partnership with the Management Association of the Philippines, or MAP, which is already coming close to an ASEAN orientation. We also have a connection with the Partnership in International Management, or PIM, a network of business schools which enables the top-performing MBA students to spend a term in partner schools on an exchange basis. With regard to the private sector, we have seven research centres that are funded by the industry, and this makes our industry link, as well as our alumni do. These kinds of networks are helping our students a lot. On the other hand, the industry is also very interested in what we are doing, including the recruiters.

AIM BuildingQ: What are your online courses?

A: We see it as a future way of teaching. It’s in the experiment stage, for example the EMBA for Entrepreneurship. We have a web provider that offers us some marketing support. However, it is not strictly online, but also has a face-to-face component. I think employers do not feel comfortable with graduates of 100 per cent online courses. Leadership is about teamwork and interpersonal skills, communication and influencing others, and these cannot be taught just online. So we have hybrid courses. Although there are also high-end online courses on the market, for example those ranked in The Financial Times, that are quite sophisticated with interactive platforms.

Q: In the next five years, where would you see AIM?

A: We would like to be among the top five schools in Asia and the No. 1 school focused on ASEAN. We have a very realistic chance for that. By achieving that, we can also become global. We have identified goals in many sectors and dimensions to reach these targets, including faculty and student diversity, curriculum innovation, and research and case-writing capacity. The strategies require infusion of capital for new physical facilities, faculty development, research buildup, scholarships, and programme innovation. Regionally, we see that the new investment focus lies mainly on Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but we are also strong in Malaysia and Thailand, even Brunei. Our immediate target is Indonesia, where we are negotiating a new partnership with Universitas Pelita Harapan, one of the top private schools in the country. They want our help to build a business school. Indonesia is moving quickly, and we want to be part of it.

Q: Do you think top business schools from the US or Europe will come here?

A: It is not easy for them to set up a new institution from scratch. Those who have done this were struggling and it took quite some time. The question is: Who would come here? We have a base here and have an advantage over others that might want to set up operations here unless they build a really big campus. In one way I would welcome Western influence here, but we are the indigenous business school. We understand ASEAN and have the expertise that others are lacking. Even more, most of the local schools here are copycats, Western transplants. We have the advantage of going the “ASEAN way”. The ASEAN Community is new stuff; it does not fully exist yet. And we want to be part of its beginning.

Q: Is there something like “ASEAN thinking” in business and economy?

A: If the East follows the West, the consumption would be huge and the world could not sustain it. Just upgrading the middle class and making them buy cars and houses and consume is not the right way. There are ways of going about this without destroying the Earth, with social enterprises and responsible, sensitive, and community-oriented economic thinking that is part of our courses. It is not just about GDP driving economies. Asia can go in a different direction, and we hope that it does.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid