Last month a new group of business school students started an MBA (Master of Business Administration) course. Nothing so very surprising in that, of course – the postgraduate degree focusing on the way business management functions work is often seen as the passport to a senior management position and courses are offered by many academic institutions around the world. The unusual thing in this case is that the qualification these students are doing contains a remanufacturing component. The University of Bradford School of Management’s MBA in Innovation, Enterprise and Circular Economy was launched three years ago, which means the results of the first students to go through the course came through last summer. The distance learning programme combines classic areas of strategy, finance and marketing within a circular economy framework. MBA director Peter Hopkinson explains: “It’s an online MBA, so it is part-time for people in work. Some students are already involved in reman or in metals recovery or want to move into that area.” The course is a marriage of an existing online MBA run by Bradford, which took in traditional areas such as strategy, marketing, operations and supply – and a specially-created pathway which contains 60 units on the circular economy. “These cover things like business models, energy, materials reserves, innovation and enterprise, and recovery and recirculation of metals,” Hopkinson continues. From aeroplane engines to coffee makers, “we are always exploring successful case studies”.
Billed as the world’s first circular economy MBA, remanufacturing runs through the course. “The ideal scenario is reman – but that is not always possible,” Hopkinson says. “We look at a spectrum of approaches and try to present a portfolio of options.” Many people involved in automotive reman began as youngsters – perhaps in family-run businesses – and worked their way up from the shop floor. For many of them, an MBA may not seem like an obvious qualification to attain, but the fact that it is being offered at all indicates that the circular economy is beginning to be better understood. As policy makers and the corporate world wake up to the importance of reman, the course has created a great deal of interest from businesses. Indeed, it was developed in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and big groups including Renault, Cisco, communications giant BT, DIY chain B&Q and National Grid. “We do executive education for them, including sessions on reman,” Hopkinson says. The course is continually being updated as reman and the rest of the circular economy moves on – and, Hopkinson concludes, reman is likely to take an even bigger part in the MBA in future as its importance becomes more widely known.