4/16/14 A jovial expression formed on Steve Blank’s face as he raised the iPhone above his head. He was pocking fun at the mobile market, dominated by a handful of brands.
Away from the graduation ceremony at ESADE Business School, held in Barcelona, he has been at the centre of disruptive innovation.
Steve, the serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur and father of the lean start-up movement, had come to inspire the about-to-be business school graduates – although for five minutes he was fixated on the audiences’ mobiles.
It had started with the students pulling smartphones out of their pockets and holding them up in front of Steve’s glinting eyes.
“Take a look around,” he asked, waving aloft his black iPhone 5S. “Do you see any BlackBerry’s? There’s always one or two dinosaurs.”
He laughed, scanning the youngsters in his view. “Raise your hand if anyone rented a VHS tape last night – or used a paper map to find yourself here?”
There was a serious point amidst the comedy. “These questions lie at the heart of what I’d like to talk about: the changing face of innovation,” Steve smiled.
His area of expertise has been entrepreneurship. About 26% of all prospective b-school students are considering entrepreneurial careers upon graduation, up from 20 per cent in 2009, according to GMAC.
That is a huge increase on 2013’s prospective students – only 4% of whom are now entrepreneurs. Last year a tranche of ESADE MBAs went on to launch their own businesses. Entrepreneurship has become a defining focus of the school.
The apparent never-ending march towards innovation has been buoyed by the school’s Entrepreneurship Institute (EEI). Since 1997, it has provided a link to all things related to social entrepreneurship and innovation – a relenting focus on which has not dimmed ESADE’s corporate prospects.
More than 90% of their MBA class was employed within three months of graduating last year.
Alessia Diamandidis, a recruitment director at L’Oréal, confirms the view from the outside: “We consider entrepreneurial qualities to be the most important aspect we look for in candidates… globally, ESADE MBA students are much more connected with companies and with innovation and entrepreneurship – qualities that companies are looking for across the board.”
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