Soft skills – social and communication skills, including team work, leadership and public speaking – have always been part of Rady’s MBA curriculum. As the School has grown, Rady has both expanded its soft skills-related curriculum for MBAs and has added such coursework to our specialized Masters’ programs. An emphasis on leadership, teamwork and communication is a cornerstone not just for the MBA, but for the Master of Science in Business Analytics and the Master of Finance and of Professional Accountancy programs as well.
JoAnne Starr, Assistant Dean of Strategy, Curriculum and Rankings at the Rady School, emphasized the importance of soft skills in professional environments.
“Soft skill development is critical because every business professional needs to work in teams and communicate effectively,” she said. “You can do lots of analyses and compile crucial data points, but unless you can work with your team and can explain why the data is important and what value it has for business decision-making, your impact will be limited at best.”
Courses at Rady, including Management Communication, Strategic Communication and Storytelling, Leadership in a Crisis, and Negotiation, enable students to enhance their soft skills.
“From the beginning of our MBA program, we’ve offered courses focused on teamwork and leadership. These enable students to gain self-awareness and improve their abilities as professionals and managers,” Starr said. “Teamwork requires speaking and listening, taking feedback, understanding roles and being flexible and adaptable. Teamwork is not simple – it’s a multi-faceted set of skills.”
Many soft skills courses center on teamwork, leadership and communication. The addition of new courses in these areas has been driven both by student interest and by a recognition that these are among the top skills employers look for in new hires. One very timely subject in which students have expressed increased interest is working with diverse groups.
“Our MBA students have long told us that the diversity of their class, particularly the international diversity of their classmates, is incredibly useful as a learning experience,” Starr said. “In response to these comments, we are adding an elective focused on diversity in the workplace. It will answer questions such as ‘What are companies really doing now?’ and ‘What is the business case for diversity?’”
“Everything about business is built on communication,” Starr said. “To have real impact, you want to develop the best possible skills for communicating up and down and inside and outside your organization. Rady really gives you the ability to do that.”