Vince Dispenza is the Executive MBA Director at Leeds University Business School. He has worked in Higher Education since 1989 and has experience of teaching, managing and externally examining on a number of MBA programmes.
1. Can you tell us briefly about your background and interests and how you came to Leeds University Business School?
I've spent most of my working life in universities, though, I started off in the building industry. My interests have always been in people development, decision making and leading change. I've been training and consulting in organisations for over twenty years.
I'm an accredited 360-degree leadership development coach and I'm currently working with clients within Executive Education at Leeds University Business School.
I came to Leeds, like so many of our Executive MBA students for practical reasons: it was closer to home! Of course its reputation attracted me. I knew someone who was already here who confirmed it was a great place to work and she was right.
2. What do you think is distinctive about the Executive MBA at Leeds?
This is always a difficult question because MBAs are pretty similar in core content. However, what I found remarkable when I first came to Leeds was the level of ongoing engagement and contribution of students even after they had left the programme. The alumni network is really powerful and the networking opportunities for current students are huge.
3. What recent developments have been made to the programme’s content?
We have increased the focus and scope of personal and professional development opportunities on the programme. The opportunities for peer feedback have also been formalised and increased.
We've also addressed ethical leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility much more explicitly and tangibly in our Boardroom Challenge activity.
4. What key challenges do Executive MBA students face as managers in their roles and how does the Executive MBA help them?
The key challenges are people and change. Organisations never stand still, but I would argue that most people's basic tendency is to seek stability and security.
Managing this dynamic can be a real challenge. The Executive MBA can help in developing leading change skills and knowledge, but it can also reassure people that not all complex and contradictory situations are reconcilable. Sometimes things are out of our control, so we need to focus on those things we can influence and change.
5. What value does having an Executive MBA provide to managers in the world today?
It allows you time to genuinely internalise the importance of continuous learning. It develops your knowledge and skills, and encourages you to reflect so that you end up making choices that will hopefully lead to a more productive working environment. It certainly enhances confidence and credibility. Of course, it usually leads to financial value too as MBA graduates are more likely to gain higher salaries more quickly.