As a wonderful conclusion to the academic year, we recently celebrated CJBS’ 25th anniversary with a festive alumni dinner in the hall of St John’s College. Around 260 alumni from all programmes flew in from every continent (except Antarctica!) and we had nine alumni from the first year of the MBA programme, as well as our founding donor Sir Paul Judge and the first MBA director, John Hendry.
A lot has changed, of course. The first students were adventurous – betting on an unproven small place, albeit one that was part of the University of Cambridge. Now we are established and are moving into place among the top business schools in the world. We are a top research business school, as measured by the UK government benchmarking exercise REF, and our programmes are ranked in the elite – for example, the MBA is ranked 13th and the MFin second in the worldwide FT ranking.
But at the same time, people observed a remarkable continuity in spirit. We don’t just want any high-quality MBA with smart students (or Executive MBA, or any other programme), but we are looking for more diversity, bringing in people from broader backgrounds and reaching beyond a fixation on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) to do so. Regardless of the sector or company size, we encourage you to go out and do something you’re proud of, to make a difference to yourself and to society, beyond the standard indicator of the size of the salary.
Although we are, as part of the University of Cambridge, a research business school, we want to do more than publish articles in ever-more theoretical scientific journals. We want to do work that is motivated by the problems of our partner managers and organisations (for profit, non-profit or public), the results of which make a difference for the people we work with. This is hard to do, but we have the flexible faculty to accomplish it.
And as part of the Cambridge Cluster, we want to do more than just teach students about the concept of entrepreneurship. We have now built a track record of actively helping early-stage startups to reach investment maturity, both for tech startups and for social ventures. We are helping small companies to develop their organisations’ skills to be able to grow and attract long-term follow-on investment, directly addressing the scale-up problem. And we are making a difference to the flow of ideas in Cambridge and other places where we work.
We have come a long way for our young age of 25 years, but we still have a long way to go in order to be named alongside the handful of the best business schools worldwide. And being resource poor, we need help to get there, to reach the full size of 75 faculty and to elevate our facilities. But we are moving ahead, and we hope that all our great alumni will be with us on a ride that will, I’m sure, continue to be thrilling.