What Generation Z wants from a business masters

Does Gen Z demand something different — and what do business schools think they need?
Her voice quavering only once at the end, Anne-Fleur Goll concluded her impassioned HEC Paris commencement speech with a plea to tackle climate change: “Every cog drives the system and you can be one of them. Merci beaucoup.”
安妮-弗勒尔•戈尔(Anne-Fleur Goll)在巴黎高等商学院毕业时发表了充满激情的毕业典礼演讲,她的声音只在最后颤抖了一次。她呼吁大家应对气候变化:“每个齿轮都在驱动这个系统,你可以成为其中的一员。非常感谢。”
The 25-year-old masters in management graduate, who co-founded a climate transition campaign group during her time at the Paris business school, used the ceremony in June to urge her contemporaries to play their part in the environmental crisis as soon as they started work. Her speech received a standing ovation from the hall of more than 1,000 graduates, prompted calls from a dozen journalists and led to some 2,000 invitations to connect on LinkedIn.
这位25岁的管理学硕士毕业生在巴黎商学院(Paris business school)就读期间,与人共同创立了一个气候转型运动组织。她利用今年6月的毕业典礼,敦促她的同辈人在一开始工作时,就在环境危机中发挥自己的作用。她的演讲获得了大厅里1000多名毕业生的起立鼓掌,引发了十几名记者的电话联系,并在LinkedIn上收到了约2000份邀请。
“I’m kind of scared to open LinkedIn now,” says Goll, who now works as a climate consultant for Deloitte in Lyon. “My audience was full of people who one day will be leaders of companies and organisations and will have the tools to shift the system, and my aim was to make everyone question their role and responsibility in that shift.”
Goll says she is pleased that HEC students now take a mandatory 200-hour class on purpose and sustainability. But she hopes a curriculum review will lead to topics such as climate change, “degrowth” theory and planetary boundaries — the thresholds at which humanity can survive and thrive on earth — being integrated into every class, from marketing to finance.
For business schools, there may never have been a more demanding cohort than Goll’s Generation Z, born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s. Variously also known as Gen Z, Zoomers, iGen or postmillennial, many are of the age for masters in management (MiM) programmes, which are usually studied immediately after a first degree.
In her HEC Paris speech, Anne-Fleur Goll called for her peers to take responsibility on climate change
According to a study of US and UK students at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the “typical Gen Zer is a self-driver who deeply cares about others, strives for a diverse community, is highly collaborative and social, values flexibility, relevance, authenticity and non-hierarchical leadership, and, while dismayed about inherited issues like climate change, has a pragmatic attitude about the work that has to be done to address those issues”.
斯坦福大学(Stanford University)行为科学高级研究中心(Center for Advanced study in the Behavioral Sciences)对美国和英国学生的一项研究显示,“典型的Z世代是自我驱动型人格,他们深切地关心他人,努力建立一个多元化的社区,具有高度的协作性和社会性,重视灵活性、相关性、真实性和非等级制领导,虽然对气候变化等遗传问题感到沮丧,但对解决这些问题所必须做的工作持务实态度。”
A separate survey of more than 1,600 prospective masters students in 26 countries published in April by education consultancy CarringtonCrisp suggests they want business schools to show them how to tackle some of the biggest global challenges.
“Around 70 per cent say they want course content that really reflects the changes going on in society, from diversity and inclusion to sustainability and poverty,” says consultancy founder Andrew Crisp.
咨询公司创始人安德鲁•克里斯普(Andrew Crisp)表示:“约70%的受访者表示,他们希望课程内容能真正反映社会正在发生的变化,从多样性和包容性到可持续性和贫困。”

My audience was full of people who will be leaders . . . and have the tools to shift the system


But these digital and social media natives also want technology at the heart of their masters. “The big demand is for anything with the word digital in it,” says Crisp, “whether that’s data analytics, digital transformation or some form of artificial intelligence.”
While Gen Z students are keen for face-to-face teaching after the pandemic, the number who say they would prefer a wholly online or blended degree has doubled to almost 40 per cent. “Students now expect their schools to use digital tools and techniques to enhance the experience,” he adds.
Business school leaders know they must respond, but are approaching the challenge from different angles. At Essec in France, for example, MiM students are now required to take a 20-hour course on environmental issues and a compulsory 20-hour course on corporate social responsibility. From this academic year, they will also be trained in diversity and inclusion issues.
商学院的领导们知道,他们必须做出回应,但他们正在从不同的角度应对这一挑战。例如,在法国高等经济贸易学院(Essec), MiM学生现在被要求学习20小时的环境问题课程,以及20小时的企业社会责任必修课。从本学年开始,他们还将接受多样性和包容性问题的培训。
Meanwhile at Vlerick Business School in Belgium, Kerstin Fehre, programme director for the masters in international management and strategy, says the school has integrated discussions on sustainability into all courses. It has also launched dedicated modules on corporate and sustainable finance, intrapreneurship (taking an entrepreneurial approach within an existing company), responsible innovation and the strategic management of sustainability
同时,比利时弗拉瑞克商学院(Vlerick Business School)国际管理与战略硕士课程主任克尔斯廷•费尔(Kerstin Fehre)表示,该学院已将可持续发展讨论纳入所有课程。它还推出了关于公司和可持续融资、内部创业精神(在现有公司内采取创业方法)、负责任的创新和可持续战略管理的专门模块。
At ESMT Berlin, Roland Siegers, director of early careers programmes, says the school has relaunched its entire masters portfolio to give students more specialisation and customisation options.
在柏林欧洲工商管理学院(ESMT Berlin),早期职业课程主管罗兰•西格斯(Roland Siegers)表示,该校已重新推出了全部硕士课程,为学生提供更多专业化和定制化选择。
Mindful of Generation Z’s emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, GBSB Global Business School in Barcelona has removed the stress of exams from its masters in management, explains marketing lead Elizaveta Vakhoshina, and replaced them with continuous assessments.
巴塞罗那GBSB全球商学院(GBSB Global Business School)营销主管伊丽莎白·瓦霍希纳(Elizaveta Vakhoshina)解释说,考虑到Z世代对心理健康和幸福的重视,该校已取消了管理硕士课程考试,代之以持续的评估。
At Grenoble Ecole de Management, new tech and teaching methods have been reviewed to include more gamification and “flipped classroom” techniques.
格勒诺贝尔管理学院(Grenoble Ecole de Management)对新技术和教学方法进行了审查,纳入了更多的游戏化和“翻转课堂”技术。

We’re the ones who will have to tackle how to keep the planet alive, but we’re just children


“Pedagogy is designed to compensate for or adapt to the Gen Z attitude of ‘if I think it isn’t of any use to me, I will switch off’,” says programme director Céline Foss. She adds a cautionary note: “For schools, there is the balance of managing the differences between what students think they need to know and what we know they need to know.”
该项目主管赛琳·福斯(Céline Foss)说:“教育是为了弥补或适应Z世代的态度,即‘如果我认为它对我没有任何用处,我就会关掉它’。”她还警告说:“对于学校来说,要平衡管理学生认为他们需要知道的东西和我们知道他们需要知道的东西之间的差异。”
It is a view shared by Anne-Fleur Goll, who says her generation still wants business schools to “be the grown-ups” and take a lead, rather than simply respond to student demands.
“Yes, we’re going to be the ones who will have to tackle how to keep the planet alive, but we’re just children,” she says. “It’s the responsibility of the teachers to tell us what we should know.
“I’ve only graduated and yet I’m being consulted as an expert on an issue like sustainability. That shouldn’t be the norm.”