Meet The Team: Julie Hodges, Durham University Business School

MBA director Julie Hodges values a diverse cohort and international career opportunities – and plans to develop closer ties with employers.

Nestled in northeast England, UK, Durham University Business School offers MBA programs which are taught both on campus and through distance learning. It also runs a raft of master’s programs ranging from marketing to Islamic finance, as well as executive education courses.

Its triple-accredited full-time MBA can be completed in 12 or 15 months in a traditional format. Its Global MBA, blended or fully-online in format, can be completed in 36 months. The full-time MBA is ranked 28th in the latest FT European business school rankings.

What makes Durham’s MBA unique is that its teaching is research-led but also offers the opportunity for students to apply their learning in practice.

Significantly, it has a global focus and attracts an international class. More than 80% of full-time MBA students are considered international, according to FT rankings.

One of the first UK business schools to adopt learning technology, Durham is a big advocate of flexible teaching which allows students to maintain full-time jobs while completing their degrees.

According to 2014 global rankings data, 89% of full-time Durham MBA students were employed within three months of graduation. They increased their salaries by 55% to a weighted average of about $87,000.

Dr Julie Hodges, director of MBA programs, provides an overview of the business school, and explains what applicants need to secure a place in its programs.

What makes The Durham MBA unique?

The Durham MBA offers a global experience focusing on how theoretical concepts are applied in the business world across different sectors.

The teaching is research-led and students have the opportunity – through a number of practical projects – to apply their learning within a business environment.  

The diversity of the cohort offers a unique learning experience, as students share their experience from across the globe.

Connections with the business world enable students to expand their network and critically review how theory applies in practice.

Do students value the business school's location?

Yes – Durham is a fantastic location for students. We have a business school which has recently been refurbished and offers a high-quality learning environment. Durham city provides a great place for students to live and learn, with modern facilities and the history of being a UNESCO world heritage site.

What changes to the MBA programs would you like to make?

To have more courses run in companies. We currently run a supply chain management elective in Komatsu Limited [a Japanese mining and construction equipment manufacturer], which is a great way for students to learn on site.

As a female director, you are in the minority. How important is it for business schools to close the gender gap in their MBA programs?

It is about getting the best students on our program, whether they are male or female. Traditionally, MBAs have been seen as more relevant for males than females. However at Durham we aim to provide a program which is attractive to a wide range of students.

The Durham MBA has a small class size. How does that affect the student experience?

It means that the experience is unique for each student. We get to know every student in the class and help them individually to achieve what they want from their MBA.

We provide bespoke careers support for each of our full-time MBA students, and work with them on their careers advancement.   

Durham was one of the first UK business schools to offer an online MBA. How does distance learning fit in with your current strategy?

Our Global [distance learning] MBA offers a blended learning approach – a mix of online and residential modules. What is important across our MBAs is the use of online technology to enhance the learning of our students.

What characteristics are you looking for in candidates applying for The Durham MBA?

Motivation and commitment; enthusiasm and energy; aspirations to make a difference in the world, wherever or whatever that might be; [and] the ability to support and challenge their fellow students.

What support is there for students who wish to work outside of the UK upon graduation?

The MBA at Durham is a global program, and the career and skills support which is available to students and alumni is designed to meet the international diversity of the cohorts.

We offer tailored career coaching that considers each individual’s needs and aspirations, and we have workshops and resources that support students in their international careers.

Our global jobs board has thousands of internationals opportunities and we hold employer-led events from international recruiters throughout the year.  International events [include] a recruiter panel event in China, and alumni events which provide further opportunity to enhance connections.

What is the provision of training and support for entrepreneurs?

As part of the 15 month FT [full-time] MBA, students can choose to follow the entrepreneurship track. This involves a series of master classes in setting up a new venture, and mentoring from an experienced entrepreneur.

There are also a number of competitions, and our own “Dragons Den” [an investment pitch] which students can enter. We have a number of successful entrepreneurs within our alumni network who offer support to students.

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