With galloping economic growth in recent years, Indonesia has emerged as a promising economic powerhouse, joining China and India. Yet there is an acute shortage of local talents with reputed Master of Business Administration degrees to fill the senior and mid-level managerial positions in existing and incoming Fortune 500 companies.
This presents a challenge to the aspiring Asian Tiger, whose economy is the largest in Southeast Asia. But for the dean of a prominent business school in the United States, there are also plenty of opportunities.
Judy Olian is the eighth dean and the first woman to ever lead the Anderson School of Management at the famed University of California, Los Angeles. The school was ranked first in terms of intellectual capital by BusinessWeek and fifth in entrepreneurship by the Financial Times’ Global MBA ranking.
“There is tremendous economic growth in Indonesia and we would like to see how a major global university like UCLA can play a part in developing managerial capacity and enlarging the talent pipeline here,” said Olian, who was in Jakarta on Sunday for an event honoring Indonesian alumni of the school.
With some 39,000 alumni in 100 countries, it is a large and powerful network. Graduates include prominent business figures like Michael Riady, chief executive of Lippo Malls (which, like the Jakarta Globe, is affiliated with the Lippo Group); Julianto Sidarto, country managing director of Accenture; Daniel Jizhar, chief executive of Indomo Mulia; Will Ongkowidjaja, associate director of UBS; Sutiono Sosrodjojo, commissioner of Sinar Sosro; and Rusly Johannes, managing director of Citibank.
Olian said that many Indonesians are now looking for world-class business education, as can be seen from the number of applicants to the entrepreneurial and research-driven school based in Southern California. With 29 applicants last year, Indonesia was the most prolific of the nations in Southeast Asia.
“There is 50 percent increase in Indonesian students studying in UCLA Anderson this year,” Olian said.
Although expensive, MBAs are still highly sought; there is a veneer of glamour and prestige attached to graduates with business degrees. Beside the full-time MBA program, UCLA Anderson offers new programs tailored to suit different needs, such as Executive MBA, Fully Employed MBA, Global EMBA for Asia Pacific, Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) and recently, Global EMBA for America.
“Like everything else, education is also globalized. There is a need for global brand and global thinking among faculty and students in the face of global competition. This is the new reality we have to adapt to,” said the Australian-born dean, who is also the chair of the business school accreditation body, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.
Asked about the school’s competitive advantages, Olian pointed to its strong intellectual and analytical foundation, where students are taught to think with a pioneering spirit, slightly non-conformist, and become more aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses.
“This is part of our DNA. That’s why most of our alumni are somewhat entrepreneurial in their thinking, even when they are working for major companies. Besides, we also happen to be in the right location known for its game-changing innovations. And LA is also a global gateway to the Pacific Rim and Latin America,” she said.
Olian added that a local university that developed a partnership with the school with gain a significant competitive edge, and she left open the possibility of a future collaboration.
“We would like to learn and become familiar with the higher education landscape here and there is a possibility for exchanges and partnerships with local universities to the extent that they can also be beneficial for both sides,” she said.