With a strong emphasis on experiential learning, encouraging entrepreneurship, and connecting students and graduates with the private sector, the National University of Management (NUM) is staying ahead of the curve in Cambodian business education.
In conjunction with the Global Business School Network (GBSN), NUM, the leading public university focusing on management and business administration, hosted a summit titled Learning by Doing: The Power of Experiential Learning in Business Education.
The summit brought together nearly 60 national and international leaders in business education and industry to explore approaches to applying experiential learning to management education and opportunities to increase multi-sector engagement in management education in the Asia Pacific region.
H.E. Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Cambodia’s education minister, who was among a handful of honoured guests, stressed the importance of private sector engagement in higher education, noting that “the conference provides a platform for business schools, business leaders, and policy-makers to meet and discuss ways on how to improve management education to meet the needs of the rapidly changing landscapes of global business in the 21st century.”
Successful education and industry leaders who debated experiential learning during the summit agreed that students need hands-on experience beyond text book knowledge if they want to make a successful start into= work life. Professor Kristiana Raube, PhD, from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, who moderated the conference, commented that “business students tend to be highly analytical, but naïve about organizational realities. Experiential learning remedies this deficit.”
Chang Bunleang, for example, co-founder and managing director of the highly successful specialty chain Brown Coffee, said his HR manager often interviews candidates based on practical experience or projects and trips undertaken in school and university.
“These lessons figure heavily in the selection process because they reveal a graduate’s readiness to make decisions, work in a team, and think critically about business challenges,” Bunleang said.
NUM has continuously heard this drumbeat from employers who are asking for mature graduates who have the soft skills to thrive in a work environment.
As such, NUM has continued to enlarge its network of international partnerships and partnerships with the private sector to emphasise the approach of Learning by Doing.
Only recently has NUM applied to join GBSN, an organization based in Washington D.C. that harnesses the power of more than 70 leading business schools worldwide standing for strengthening management, entrepreneurial, and leadership talent through improved access to locally relevant education.
“Overall, the GBSN summit on experimental learning was a success and we look forward to introducing more experiential and action learning projects into our business school curricula at the National University of Management in Phnom Penh,” said Dr Hor Peng, rector of NUM.
In recent years, NUM has also placed a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship education. Partnering with the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company, NUM successfully hosted the 10th anniversary finals of the Mekong Business Challenge 2016, which is an entrepreneurship competition involving top university student teams from six countries in the greater Mekong Sub-Region, including Bhutan. According to NUM senior advisor Stephen Paterson, Cambodian student teams, including students from NUM, won the regional competition in both 2015 and 2016, and also successfully advanced to the international competition in the U.S.
In the upcoming fall semester, NUM plans to expand its English-based international business programs both at the undergraduate and graduate levels (i.e., iBBA and iMBA). More pilot projects will also be conducted in the area of experiential learning to better prepare NUM’s graduates for the future needs of the 21st century’s global innovation economy.
NUM is the leading public university in Cambodia focusing on management and business administration. Currently, there are approximately 12,000 students enrolled in bachelor, master and doctoral programs in areas spanning finance and banking, accounting, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, tourism and hospitality, information technology, foreign languages and business law.