In Alberto Willi’s classroom, EMBA students explore both ideas and their biases about those ideas.
“When you have to lead, you have to first be aware of your own biases,” says Willi, associate professor of business, society, and economics and academic director of the EMBA Program at IAE Business School in Argentina.
“If you are not aware of the biases you have—emotional or cognitive—it’s quite difficult to see reality in different situations or see the reality of different students.”
If that sounds perhaps philosophical, it comes from a faculty member who received a degree in philosophy and didn’t think his career would lead him to graduate management education.
“I never imagined I would be teaching in a business school,” says Willi, who initially set his sights on high school teaching. When an opportunity came to join IAE Business School in Argentina, he found a place he definitely wanted to be. He enjoyed the experience so much he returned to school and earned a PhD in management.
“When I first came, I worked with a professor, and we shared a few classes before I started to teach by myself,” says Willi. Now he returns the favor and mentors new faculty.
Willi teaches leadership, sustainability, and social responsibility courses in the EMBA Program. “For me, the EMBA is the most challenging audience,” he says. “They have experience. They are highly competitive. They prepare well, and they fight for their ideas.”
In class sessions, Willi encourages discussion by asking questions and raising relevant topics. For example, students take a look at the impact of climate change on the environment and on business when they analyze a case study and wrestle with the numbers and business concepts behind the issues.
He also uses role-playing exercises in his classes to help students better understand the perspectives of companies, nongovernmental organizations, and the community. “They can see how different it is to be in the shoes of other stakeholders.”
With the introduction of blended learning, Willi focuses on making sure the face-to-face classroom experience is a personal and memorable one. “I try to accentuate the dynamics of the classroom and try to emphasize the conversations that people want to have about the issue.”
Business is rapidly changing, and staying current with those changes is both daunting and important for faculty, EMBA Programs, and business schools.
“Business schools and EMBA Programs have to understand these changes and adapt the program.”