Embracing an MBA for the 21st century

Head and shoulders image of Hildur Hauksdottir
Sustainability is a big part of MBA student Hildur Hauksdottir's life in Australia, just as it was in Iceland.

Iceland native Hildur Hauksdottir is part of Griffith’s MBA class of 2013 where enrolments are on the rise.

From one of the most sustainable countries in the world, she knew the Griffith MBA was the MBA for her when she and husband Daniel found it on their Reykjavik doorstep at a major international education expo in the Icelandic capital.

While issues like location, value for money and the comprehensive nature of the program were factors in her decision to apply to study at Griffith, none was more important than the MBA’s focus on sustainability.

“Everything I’ve studied incorporates sustainability in some way, even accounting. I didn’t know sustainability had anything to do with accounting. But it does,” Hildur says.

She is one of 61 MBA students to have started the 2013 program, a 22% increase on Griffith’s MBA enrolments in 2012.

“It’s really important to know about sustainability and it’s really important to incorporate it into business. I think it’s what distinguishes the MBA at Griffith from others,” Hildur says.

“In Iceland we use geothermal energy. Our electrical energy is harnessed from waterfalls. The gas that goes into our cars is almost our only non-sustainable use of energy. We almost take sustainability for granted in Iceland.

“I’ve been impressed by the awareness of sustainability in Australia. People talk about it a lot more than in Iceland. But it’s also important for people here to act.”

Postgraduate Pathway

Hildur graduated from Reykjavik University with a degree in engineering management in 2010. By that stage she was also working as a project manager within Asset Management on the winding-up committee for the former largest bank in Iceland which collapsed in the 2008 GFC.

A postgraduate pathway was always the plan for Hildur and Daniel at a university overseas. Their boundaries were extended beyond Europe after the Reykjavik expo which also opened the door to Griffith for Daniel.

He is now studying a two-year postgraduate degree in electronic and computer engineering at Griffith’s Nathan campus, while Hildur is studying full-time at the South Bank campus.

“We always wanted to go somewhere but we didn’t know where. Then we found Griffith and Brisbane,” she says. “We needed to find a university, or at least a city, that could look after both of us. Griffith worked.

“The MBA curriculum had everything I wanted to study. I wanted to learn all aspects of business and develop the skills to manage a business or even to start up my own business, anywhere in the world.”

Focus on values

Griffith’s increase in MBA enrolments in 2013 bucks a national trend that has seen MBA enrolments across Australia fall from 32,000 in 2005 to 22,000 in 2012. MBA Director at Griffith University, Dr Nick Barter, believes the surge in enrolments is due in no small part to the focus on values.

“Our MBA program has a distinctly global orientation. We are concentrating on a new generation of business leaders for a world without borders.

“The MBA focuses on values of the 21st century where there is a strong emphasis on the environment, sustainability and globally responsible leadership.

“A business in the 21st century requires new values. We aim for an MBA that is the best MBA for the planet.”