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British university finds strong demand for family business MBA

By Giulia Cambieri

An MBA programme, which was designed to meet the needs of British family business William Grant & Sons, could be extended past its planned run of three intakes because of growing interest from other companies.

George Burt, managing director of the Centre of Scenario Planning and Future Studies at Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow, told CampdenFB that the programme, which began in September, has proved popular with other Scottish businesses.

“So far, it seems that other organisations are very keen to join this programme and we are selecting who we think is most appropriate for the second cohort, which is scheduled to start at the beginning of 2013,” he said.

“After the initial three cohorts, we may continue to run the programme,” added Sandy Wilson, head of the Centre for Corporate Connections at the Scottish university.

MBA25 was specifically customised to meet the needs of Grant’s managers and focuses on family businesses, entrepreneurship and luxury branding, as well as more traditional MBA topics, such as marketing, operation and strategy.

The Dufftown-based distiller, whose single malts brands include Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, “had the opportunity to discuss the content of the course with the academics”, said Wilson.

The class is composed of the distiller’s executives, who have at least 10 years of managerial experience, as well as a individuals from not-for-profit organisations and a number of Scottish entrepreneurs, including Fraser Doherty, who started his jam business SuperJam at the age of 14.

Grant & Sons decided to fully sponsor members of not-for-profit organisations who are taking part in the programme.

“When Grants came about … the idea of developing an MBA programme, it was driven by a desire to upscale part of their manager population and develop them into potential future leaders of the organisation,” said Burt. “But it was also important from Grants’ perspective to give something back to Scotland in a wider sense.”

This is not the first time that Strathclyde Business School created a customised MBA programme for a company – it delivered executive programmes for IBM, Scottish Power and Scottish Enterprise in the past.

William Grant & Sons was established in 1886 by William Grant and is still controlled by the fifth generation of his family.