IE Letters to the Editor

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A well articulated comment from IE reader Paul Sheldon in response to "Bainbridge Graduate Institute’s MBA Program Ranked #1 in Net Impact’s Student Guide to Graduate Business Programs":

Yep, BGI is an awesome, world-leading program. What the Net Impact students largely missed in their assessment is BGI’s sister program at Presidio School of Management.

In part, because the ranking was based on pure frequency of comment, student evaluations tend to be something of a glamorous, popularity contest–they usually rate highly, that which is most comfortable and interesting to students. And because the BGI students seem to have been more proactive about making sure they submitted more online survey responses, the sheer numbers of submissions may have biased the results.

This is not to distract in any way from the excellence and value of Bainbridge, which deserves all the credit it was given. But if students already knew what was best, they wouldn’t be, well, students.

Fortunately for students, evaluating the effectiveness of academic programs is not only a popularity contest, but also a rigorous accreditation sequence.

BGI certainly deserves acknowledgement for it’s outstanding, fully-accredited program, students, faculty and vision.

So does Presidio.

Slightly more recent than BGI, Presidio offers a more accessible, urban setting for its monthly gatherings (in or near San Francisco), and a more "mainstream" approach to engaging with business through guest lecturers, project-oriented learning, and a faculty that also uniquely bridges the transition from exploitative to sustainable business.

Presidio’s visionary Founder, Richard Gray, and Board President Steven Swig, convened a faculty around Natural Capitalism’s co-author, Hunter Lovins, J.D., who teaches or assists in at least six of the college’s 16 courses. Designated by Time Magazine as a Hero for the Planet, Lovins provides a solid grounding in sustainability, and a dramatically successful track record in leading and consulting with successful businesses, organizations, governments and economies.

The management strand at Presidio is organized around Alexander and Kathia Laszlo (who have also taught at Bainbridge and at the business school of the Institute of Technology in Monterey, Mexico) and former V.P. of Motorola, Robert Dunham, whose previous work with Fernando Flores, Richard Strozzi-Heckler, and George Leonard distinguishes him as a significant resource in the emerging discipline of generative leadership.

Provost Ron Nahser, a noted marketing guru and graduate of Kellogg, convenes Presidio’s Marketing Strand around his distinguished Pathfinder approach to pragmatic inquiry, including traditional, sustainable, and ecological economics as taught by Berkeley grad, Margaret Winslow, Ph.D.

Presidio places accounting and numbers at the core of its program, as presented by Paula Thielen, Ph.D., whose solid grounding in accounting practices is delightfully combined with a rare number-cruncher’s affinity for integrating the principles of sustainable management in business. Thielen’s accounting classes are uniquely complemented by such additional resources as John Katovich, former General Counsel to the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, who, with Lovins (who is also a lawyer) teaches one of the nation’s first courses in sustainability’s relationship to "Capital Markets and the Law."

Redefining how business is done, using the principles of sustainable management, will require many more than two institutions. Net Impact would do well to present not just a competitive, hierarchical ranking, but also a more comparative, inclusive circle of founders, all of whom deserve applause for their willingness to forge new models for business education.

Paul Sheldon
Senior Consultant
Natural Capitalism Solutions
Principles of Sustainable Management
Presidio School of Management

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