The SKK Graduate School of Business at Sungkyunkwan University has recently improved its standing sharply in an authoritative global ranking of business schools.
Its dean, Yoo Pil-hwa, attributed the achievement to its innovative programs, highly globalized curriculum and staff, and competitive graduates.
SKK GSB ranked 51st, up 15 places from a year ago, in the 2013 Financial Times Global MBA Ranking, the highest mark a Korean school has ever registered since full-time MBA programs were launched in the country.
The school ranks among the top 0.7 percent of the some 7,000 MBA programs around the world.
Scores were especially high in fields such as globalization and successful career progress. On placements which measure the effectiveness of the school careers service in supporting student recruitment, the school ranked eighth in the world, ahead of some top-ranking U.S. institutions such as MIT Sloan School of Management and the University of Chicago.
“We can say we’re the most globalized business school in Korea,” Yoo said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
SKK GSB was established in 2004, nearly a decade after U.S. and European schools were established, to meet the growing demand in the country for business leaders in marketing, strategic management and finance.
Backed financially by the country’s leading conglomerate Samsung Group and administratively by the top U.S. school MIT Sloan School of Management, SKK GSB has been able to grow rapidly over the past nine years, according to the dean.
Yet, he added, the school is currently focused on creating its own billing for its future development. It already came out from under eight years of support from MIT Sloan, and is seeking to be more indenpendent of Samsung, according to Yoo.
The dean admitted that the school, in particular, benefited from its relationship with Samsung Group, which acquired the foundation of Sungkyunkwan University in 1996.
|Yoo Pil-hwa, Dean of the SKK Graduate School of Business. (SKK GSB)|
“It is true we’ve used Samsung’s brand. And it’s true, to some extent, we receive foreign applicants through Samsung’s international branches,” Yoo said.
“But we should create our own brand, and we’re now expanding our partnership with top business schools in the world in order to become a leading business school,” he added.
It presently runs two programs: global MBA and executive MBA Its global MBA program includes both practical experiences and unique curriculums that integrate classroom theory with the real-life business world in specific areas of interest, the dean explained.
He added that the school took many innovative initiatives in the country; the first U.S.-style MBA program; the first foreign dean; and dual degree programs with top business schools, in just nine short years.
SKK GSB started offering the executive MBA program in 2009, in partnership with Indiana Kelley School of Business in the U.S., which includes tracks for executive and senior management, middle-level managers and working-level employees in corporations.
It has been little more than a year since the quietly spoken professor became dean of the business school, but he already saw a nearly 30 percent increase in applications from a year earlier.
The number of applications from abroad, in particular, improved significantly ― the percentage of international students on gobal MBA program has reached 41 percent, and they have come from more diverse nationalities, Yoo noted.
The school is emerging as one of the preferred destinations for foreign MBA students, as the average cost is less than at the top U.S. and European schools while the quality is still very high.
He noted that over the past year he focused on strengthening the global MBA and executive MBA programs by expanding the faculty of the business school and renewing its partnership with the world’s leading business schools.
SKK GSB allows students to study for one semester at MBA programs in top U.S. business schools and also offers dual degree programs with top schools including MIT Sloan School of Management, Kelly School of Business and Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
“In addition to the exchange programs, a multicultural experience is provided with half of our faculty and one-third of our students from abroad,” Yoo said.
Yoo noted that one of the school’s strong points is that classes and assignments are all in English to improve students’ speaking and writing skills.
Yoo, who has been teaching marketing at Sungkyunkwan since 1987, is himself a top publisher of some of the industry’s must-read books across a range of subjects including, marketing, management and pricing.
On the side, he has a great interest in oriental philosophy and history and wrote several books including the bestseller “CEOs Find the Answer from the Classics.”
Yoo reiterated that in order to compete with the top business schools in the U.S. and Europe, SKK GSB needed to take a different approach.
“We’re a business school but we also include humanity studies in our curriculum. We want to develop socially responsible managers who will lead in a global organization,” he said.
“Part of our uniqueness is that we have this unique educational environment in which students learn Western study in an Eastern environment.”
Nestled beside Sungkyunkwan, a royal court of the Joseon Dynasty, the longest-running higher education institute in Korea still has Confucian traces in its building as well as in its founding principles.
“I believe we should keep and expand our traditional culture in our school,” he said.
As the role of Asia rises in the global economy, so does the need for employees with a high understanding of Eastern culture, he noted.
He admitted, however, there is still a long way to go for the school to catch up with leading business schools in the U.S. and Asia.
“Currently, most of our graduates find work here. But we want to establish our name not only in this country, but also abroad, so that they are also welcomed to many foreign companies.”
To build up its own brand, Yoo said, the school will place an emphasis on career development and placement, as well as active alumni participation.
“We’re focused on establishing our name in the world and enhancing students’ global competiveness. We aim to make it into the top 30 by 2030,” he added.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com
● Yoo was named dean of SKK GSB in 2012. He served as vice dean of the school from 2004. He has been teaching marketing at Sungkyunkwan University since 1987.
● He graduated from Seoul National University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management in 1979 and earned his doctoral degree in the same field at Harvard Business School in 1986.
● Yoo is a leading researcher and author in Korea. He has written more than 20 books which have been published in Korea, Japan, Germany and China.