We recently had an interview with the Dean of the Graduate School of Business of NU, Dr. Patrick Duparcq, a recognized technology strategist and technology visionary with twenty years of expertise in technology forecasting, marketing, and technology implementation. Dr. Duparcq taught in top-ranked business schools and helped to build and transform business schools in Europe and the USA.
In the interview, Dr. Duparcq shared some insights on the launch and development of a new business school (he has plenty of experience on this front). He specifically talked about the Graduate School of Business at Nazarbayev University, its outstanding programs and research, the main achievements (by examples and metrics), and finally how programs have evolved over the past ten years since the start of this world-class business school in the heart of Kazakhstan - Nur-Sultan city.
Getting started: Professional Development Programs
How would you describe the path traveled by GSB and what approaches were adopted to succeed in the ambitious task of developing a top-quality business school?
“The story of the Graduate School of Business is a story of a carefully planned strategy of providing increasingly sophisticated products resulting in a school with all characteristics of a world-class business school, ready to compete at a global level in (i) Professional Development Programs (a.k.a. Executive Programs), (ii) Degree programs (necessary for accreditation), and (iii) Research Excellence (necessary for rankings).
This gradual approach to build a strong brand is well understood in business: build from easy to hard, simple to complex, least to most expensive”, Dr. Duparcq answered.
Getting started: Professional Development Programs
Could you speak in detail about the Professional Development Programs, their role among other programs, the subjects taught and benefits for companies in Kazakhstan?
«The Graduate School of Business started offering short programs to support entrepreneurs in 2011. The “SME Executive Development Program” (part of the Business Roadmap 2020, the Development Strategy of the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2050), has since then successfully trained thousands of entrepreneurs across all industries and regions of Kazakhstan. Securing a long-time contract helped GSB to build capacity that was subsequently used to offer dozens of short programs in areas such as Marketing Strategy, Change Management, Project Management, Data Analysis, Financial Statement Analysis, Negotiations, Leadership.
Offering highly specialized courses in an Open Enrollment format also provided GSB with a wide enough portfolio to convince leading companies of Kazakhstan (and some abroad) of company-tailored programs, especially suited for their needs. For instance, in 2017 a company-tailored program designed for the VISA company on “The Future Of Payments” delivered a program for financial regulators from a dozen different countries (including Kazakhstan).
By 2021, the GSB Executive Education Programs have delivered training to over 4600 business owners, managers, and leaders from a dozen different countries» - Dr. Duparcq expressed.
Building on strength: Degree Programs That Matter
What about the degree programs of the NU Graduate School of Business? What programs are available at the moment and when were they launched? What makes these programs stand out in comparison with similar ones?
Dr. Duparcq said that starting in 2013, The Graduate School of Business had started offering a number of degree programs.
“First, the Executive MBA (in partnership with Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business) was launched in February 2013. The EMBA flagship program has grown from 17 participants in 2013 to 46 participants in our largest cohort” he clarified, “The EMBA alumni list reads like a “who-is-who” in Kazakhstan business: Almasadam Satkaliyev (chairman of Samruk-Kazyna), ) Akylzhan Baimagambetov (deputy-governor National Bank of Kazakhstan), Talgat Imangaliyev (General Director of Worley Parsons), Tolganay Botakanova (CEO of First Heartland Bank), Kamalzhan Nadyrov (Head of the Republican Health Development Center, former Vice Minister of Health), Lyazzat Ibragimova, CEO of Otbassy Bank, among many of them.
The strategy to start with a flagship “luxury” program is interesting and differs from the more common strategy of building “from the ground up” (let’s call it the KIA approach). By introducing the flagship brand-establishing EMBA program first, Nazarbayev University created an aspirational brand, an approach more akin to TESLA than KIA.
Following the launch of the EMBA program, a number of new programs were launched to support the Kazakhstan Business Community: Full-Time MBA, Master of Science in Finance, and Master in Human Resource Management. Also, a joint program with the School of Digital Sciences and Engineering, the Master in Engineering Management, has been among the most successful graduate programs at the university.
Graduates of The Graduate School of Business master programs have taken leadership and startup founder positions in companies in Kazakhstan and around the world (Dubai, EU, Silicon Valley, and of course Kazakhstan)”.
What would you add about international collaborations in progress? What are the business schools and major partners with which relationships have been established, exchange programs have been started, etc.?
Dr. Duparcq emphasized that the quality of the NU GSB faculty and programs has not gone unnoticed. In the last few years, international top schools have sent graduate students for international residencies to GSB. Among them, students from Skolkovo (Moscow), HKUST (HK), City University of Hong Kong (HK), and strong intentions expressed by some top US universities (e.g. Harvard Business school).
The Diamond in the Crown: Research Excellence Beyond Borders
It is noteworthy that NU GSB has achieved impressive outcomes in terms of the research work carried out by the faculty including the one dedicated for entrepreneurship development in Kazakhstan. Could you, please, tell us in detail about these activities, the respective accomplishments and why it is an essential direction of the school going forward?
“A growing portfolio of programs has allowed The Graduate School of Business to hire more excellent faculty. The faculty, now 24 strong, combines gifted instructors focusing on excellence in teaching with an increasingly deep bench of top researchers contributing to global knowledge on business, trade, and applied economics. These GSB researchers are co-authors of Nobel Laureates, top researchers in their field, and get quoted on the whole over 22,000 times (citations) by other researchers in the world.
Research Excellence is one of the huge (and non-trivial) accomplishments of GSB over the last few years. Many schools around the world aspire to be great research schools, but very few accomplish it. The reasons for this being such a great challenge are well-known: top researchers are hard to get, hard to manage, and hard to keep, especially at young universities. Yet, this is of crucial importance as at GSB we engage in research-led teaching, which guarantees a head-start to our students when they graduate - through their exposure to the latest big data approaches in business, management practices that make a difference, and new insights which all find their way in our courses.
The Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) measures whether a school (or individual researcher) performs below average (below 1), at average (=1), or above average (larger than 1). Great universities may have an FWCI above 1.5 (the National University of Singapore FWCI = 1.90; Tsinghua University FWCI = 1.80; Duke University FWCI = 1.60). Individual schools typically have a slightly higher FWCI. For instance, great research business schools may get an FWCI closer to 2.0 (e.g. The Fuqua School of Business FWCI = 1.92). The NU Graduate School of Business currently has an FWCI of 1.80. This is well within the range of “great research schools”.
The Graduate School of Business is also the only Central Asian business school ranked in the prestigious UT-Dallas research ranking (based on SCOPUS indexed top journals in the field). About 80% of all GSB publications fall in the Q1 journal quality category, and about 30% of publications appear in another prestigious list of publications: The Financial Times Top-50 Business Journals.
In addition to fundamental research, the Graduate School of Business also conducts applied research related to the developing economy and entrepreneurship in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In particular, since 2014 GSB has been the country coordinator of the international renowned “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)” study. The GEM's annual country report published by GSB compares the conditions for entrepreneurship development in Kazakhstan with the rest of the world.
Our research finds its way also to the broader community through numerous events we have organized for and with captains of industry and policymakers, covering a wide range of topics including Islamic Banking, the future of cryptocurrency, the Belt and road initiative, monetary policy, etc.. The Graduate School of Business has worked with The Worldbank, EBRD, ADB, and others to contribute to a better understanding of Kazakhstan’s place in the world”, - Dr. Duparcq answered.
The Road Ahead: Built to Endure, Built to Excel, Built to Matter
Dear Patrick, thanks for your engaging interview! In conclusion, what would you like to emphasize as the interim results of the work done? What are the major tasks ahead to be implemented in the near future?
Dr. Duparcq concluded, “Building a strong brand takes time. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 10 years to be noticed and taken seriously, another 10 years to build a lasting legacy with sustaining power. The Graduate School of Business is definitely noticed and taken seriously. With strong foundations established, the school will build strength in a number of ways.
First, Built to Endure: Lasting financial sustainability needs a larger scale of operations. The introduction of an undergraduate program in business and larger graduate program cohorts will be crucial to achieving this goal. We expect that AACSB accreditation will help to attract more students to our program, both domestic and international. GSB also intends to increase its offerings of part-time programs.
Second, Built to Excel: Expanding faculty size to achieve “minimum efficient scale”. Some areas with only one or two experts are too small to become a real research group or weather normal fluctuations in faculty mobility. This is not an exact science, but in business schools, a size of 36 faculty (6 faculty across 6 distinct areas of expertise) is considered a good rule of thumb.
An expanded faculty size will result in a significant expansion of academic and applied research. Of course, more faculty publish more. But more faculty will also increase retention and productivity. As a rule, academics don’t like change. If they feel they’re in a good environment with sufficient colleagues to work with, they will stay. Academic research is also one of those areas where 6 people working together accomplish a lot more than 6 individual researchers by themselves. GSB’s next goal for faculty size is 36.
And finally, Built to Matter: The presence of more research faculty will also open more opportunities for applied research that is immediately applicable by companies, industry organizations, and government agencies. Applied research will generate revenues (Built to Endure), will impact researchers in their thinking and publishing (Built to Excel), and will provide field-data-informed reality to our degree programs (Built to Matter)”.