Incoming MBA student Rohit Nayak had just returned from a post-dinner walk at about 10 p.m. local time in India when he took a seat in front of his computer.
The entrepreneur, who has founded two startups, including homemade artistic good business Manushi, was taking a few minutes to informally meet future and current Babson College MBA students, as well as faculty and staff, in a virtual get-together before he traverses some 7,000 miles to Wellesley, Massachusetts, in the fall.
As the world of business and education has transitioned to more remote work and digital learning, networking opportunities as we knew them have taken on a new look and dynamic. But, the pandemic hasn’t dampened Babson’s entrepreneurial approach nor its ability to bring its MBA students and alumni together in unique and compelling ways. This was easily exhibited through this new virtual space, created so the entire MBA community can gather weekly for an hour of casual conversations.
It’s a snapshot, or rather, a screenshot, of the Babson College network in action.
It’s also just one of the many reasons the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business once again has been validated as the Best MBA for Entrepreneurship, earning the No. 1 ranking from U.S. News & World Report for the 28th consecutive year. Babson also recently was ranked 12th in the world among the Top Online MBAs and third in career progress by Financial Times, proving the power of Babson’s community and its entrepreneurial embrace of digital learning.
“This unprecedented recognition emphasizes our continued leadership and innovation and honors the achievements and successes of the Babson community,” said President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD. “These accolades are a powerful illustration of Babson’s commitment to providing academic excellence while navigating one of the most challenging times in our history.”
Early last year, Babson rolled out a fully redesigned MBA curriculum and has continued to add to the program.
Among the additions are two new STEM-designated concentrations: Business Analytics and Machine Learning, and Quantitative Finance. These STEM-designated academic paths offer international students the potential for an extended 36 months to work in the United States after graduation. Babson also has expanded its classes offered online; more courses are available in more formats than ever before.
“The MBA is about the relationships you make, not just with your classmates, but with the whole Babson family.”
Nathalya Mamane MBA'21
Also, The Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership continues to leverage the world-class assets of the College to advance and amplify values-driven entrepreneurial leadership on a global scale. With the historic $50 million investment from Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 and the Blank Family Foundation, the College has continued to make major progress on its strategic plan while alleviating the pandemic’s financial impact.
Earlier this academic year, the College announced the leadership team for Babson’s Blank School, including Donna Levin, CEO; Associate Professor Scott Taylor, the inaugural Arthur M. Blank Endowed Chair for Values-Based Leadership; and Jeffrey P. Shay ’87, MBA’91, the executive director for academic operations. And, in October, Blank and his philosophy of values-based leadership took center stage, when he and his leadership team visited Babson College to share the principles of Blank’s book, Good Company, with hundreds of virtual community members, and meet the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership Scholars.
It isn’t long before Nayak is joined in the virtual video chat by incoming MBA students Victor Han and Hweedo Chang, and the three are kicking around collaboration ideas related to their startups.
“Usually good ideas come from the most unexpected places,” Han says. “You can’t predict when they happen. There is a bit of luck, randomness to it. It’s a beautiful thing.”
The video platform, InSpace, is one of four pilot programs at the College and has been used by hundreds of students. It was pitched to Babson by director of sales and customer success Mike Springer MBA’16, and allows users to physically move an avatar to different parts of a common screen to join different simultaneous conversations, as if they were networking at an in-person event.
“There’s a social component and psychological component,” says Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Innovation Sebastian Fixson of this new virtual initiative. “We’re all craving social interaction after one year of COVID-19. In school, you meet people you never would have met, all over the world.”
Even across programs, or computer screens in this instance, connections are abundant at Babson College. Nathalya Mamane MBA’21 took a few minutes to share her words of wisdom with the incoming cohort.
“Take the time to enjoy it,” she says. “The MBA is about the relationships you make, not just with your classmates, but with the whole Babson family.”
Before departing, Mamane drops her email address to the group.
“You are welcome to reach out anytime,” she said. “I’m not leaving so soon. The rest of my life I’ll be connected to Babson.”
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