The new Alfred Ford School of Management – named after the businessman Alfred Ford, the great-grandson of auto magnate Henry Ford – offers an MBA (Master of Business Administration) with a focus on conscious leadership.
The Alfred Ford School of Management is affiliated with Bhaktivedanta College in Radhadesh, Belgium. Administrators of Bhaktivedanta College began working with Alfred Ford on the new School of Management in 2009, after the 2008 financial crisis demonstrated the need for a different approach to business management. This was an initiative of Jaya Krishna, who was then the Administrative Director of Bhaktivedanta College. Founding members included Prafulla Acharya, Rajesh Kumar, and Dario Knez.
Over the years top institutions were approached both in Europe and around the world. Finally a Spanish university was chosen that suited the ethos of the new school. The Alfred Ford School of Management is accredited by the IPE – Paris and the internationally renowned Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Its MBA degrees will be recognized by both institutions.
Applicants will be required to have a Bachelor’s degree in economics or a similar field (preferably); some experience in management will be welcome.
The program will be offered in eight modules online at aford.be. The modules will be presented in ten-minute video lessons and consist of short theory lectures and practical case studies. They will be pre-recorded so that students can follow them at their own pace. The course will take a minimum of eighteen months, but can be spread out over a maximum of five years. This makes the program extremely accessible to people of all lifestyles.
There will be two intakes of students per year – one in October and one in March/April. Ten students will be selected for each intake.
The students will earn a standard MBA degree. The faculty will teach organizational behavior, project management, financial management, accounting, entrepreneurship, technology and operations, global strategy, marketing strategy, critical thinking, and impactful communication. At the end of 2016, specializations in IT and finances may be added.
A unique feature of the new school is its industry links. The program was inspired by Alfred Ford (Ford Motor Company), who has close industry links in Europe and around the world. Students should be able to get internships and work placements in which they can use their knowledge in real industry situations. This will prepare them for leadership positions internationally.
Another unique feature is the focus on conscious leadership, an approach to business that is neither profit- nor self-centered, but oriented toward a giving of oneself and serving people and the environment.
“This an expansion on what is already going on in business schools, where we hear about conscious business, humble leadership, and servant leadership,” says Knez. “It leads to an approach in the mode of goodness, which is the most beneficial approach in the long-term. It’s a steady approach that yields long-term rather than short-term, immediate results. These principles are drawn from the bhakti tradition and are present in other traditions, too.”
A blend of academic rigor and industry experience
“The Alfred Ford School of Management offers students a blend of academic rigor and industry experience,” says Rajesh Kumar, the Chief Academic Officer and one of the Academic Directors. “Our highly experienced teachers are specialists who have taught in Master’s programs for many years in institutions around the world.”
Some of these highly placed academics are:
Dr. Ravi Kathuria, an internationally published author in the area of Operations Management. He has taught a full MBA program at the University of California, Irvine, and at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia.
Prafulla Acharya has taught Master’s level management programs at Malardalens University in Sweden and UPB University in Bolivia.
Dr. Akhaya Kumar Nayak has taught both Bachelor’s and Master’s programs at the Indian Institute of Management in Indore.
The faculty have graduated from some of the best universities, are leaders in their fields, and have many years of experience. According to Knez, they are also ethically conscious people, with track records in business practices and teaching. The faculty includes:
Raj Heda, with almost twenty years of experience in Fortune 500 companies, who worked with IBM
and helped develop a massive open online course;
Ramchunder Singh, from South Africa, who is the managing director at Waterfall Energy;
Meena Rani, who has worked with American Express and is the assistant accountant at MB Law (UK);
Maika Puta, from Berlin, a PhD in her late twenties, who did groundbreaking research on the effects of
the three modes of nature, which was well received in German academia in the field of psychology.
The final module, an experiential five-day seminar on Conscious Leadership, will be held at Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium and be co-taught by the film-maker and coach Ari Weiss and Chelakara Ramnath, a former investment banking associate at Bank of America in New York, who made headlines by leaving Wall Street to become a monk at the Bhakti Center in Manhattan. Ramnath co-founded UPBUILD, which provides consulting to top companies.
According to Knez, 30% of MBA degree holders experience a career change or upgrade, while 50% see salary increases. MBA holders find themselves more confident in the business world, with a more rounded knowledge of it. Beyond that, the Alfred School of Management will send graduates into the world with an important message.
“Spiritual seekers often feel like they’re facing the unsolvable puzzle of how to fulfill their higher spiritual aspirations and still function in the world and be materially successful,” Knez says. “We’re saying that you can be successful in this world – have a good career and move on in life – and still be on the spiritual path. That’s definitely something we want to offer to people.”