When it was founded in 1968 by the Ateneo and de la Salle with technical support from Harvard University and funding assistance from the Ford Foundation, its founders, notably the venerable Washington Sycip and the late Ramon del Rosario, Sr. envisioned the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) as the first full time graduate school of business in Asia. Ayala Corp. donated land; and the building and its renovations were funded by the Eugenio Lopez Foundation.
For decades, it was indeed the first such graduate school of business and enjoyed leadership and prestige for its Harvard-style practitioner-oriented, case method approach to management education. AIM attracted students from about 70 countries throughout Asia and as far as Europe, the United States and even Africa. Its graduates have contributed to professionalized business, civil society, and government endeavors.
As it approaches its 50th year, under the leadership of Korean-born Dr. Jik Yeong Kang, AIM embarks on several new initiatives as it rebrands itself into a nexus for business, government and society, in response to rapidly changing Asia and the increasingly innovative global knowledge economy.
The young Jik Yeong Kang, PhD, is the first female president/CEO of AIM, and is concurrently Dean of the Institute. Prior to assuming her post as the AIM dean, she was the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) Program Director of the Manchester Business School (MBS) in the UK from 2010 to 2014. MBS’ Doctoral Programs secured the number one spot in the Financial Times rankings from 2011 to 2013. She also served as MBS’ Director of MBA Programs from 2001 to 2007, where she was instrumental in propelling the MBA program’s Financial Times ranking from 47th in the world in 2002 to 22nd in 2007, the highest ranking it has ever achieved.” Dr. Kang has taught around the world as a visiting professor in Spain, Paris, Montreal, and Shanghai.
To manifest its new directions, AIM has come up with a new logo, representing fluidity, with its commitment to “lead, inspire, transform.” It focuses on producing graduates who will be socially responsible, and committed to sustainable and inclusive progress, armed with new skill sets to lead organizations in the rapidly changing Asian and global economy and society.
This year, while maintaining its full time MBA program as its flagship degree course, AIM has embarked on new initiatives in response to rapid changes in a more competitive Asian and global economy and society. Following a review of the 27-year-old Master’s degree in Development Management (MDM), under the Stephen Zuellig School of Development Management, the program has introduced refinements based on the latest insights from development research and the development community, specifically aimed to meet current market demands for development managers. Its latest improvements are two specialization tracks called “majors” for the 2018 year: sustainable development management and public policy.
Furthermore, answering to feedback from its alumni, the Zuellig school will also pilot a four-week immersion. This year AIM launched the Master of Science in Innovation and Business (MIB) designed for STEAM graduates (Science, technology, agriculture, architecture, medicine and mathematics). Students immerse themselves in technological and creative advances in their fields of specialization and are honed as managers and leaders to compete globally in their chosen fields.
Resource persons include Dr. Sam Bernal, world-renowned expert in stem cell technology. A recent initiative is a partnership with Stanford graduate Dado Banatao, the Fil-American IT innovator who was one of the highly successful pioneers in Silicon Valley. The AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator is in partnership with PhilDev, with funding assistance from the Philippine government’s Department of Science and Technology.
This incubator aims to become a hub for founders, angel investors and venture capitalists from the Asian Region who can take advantage of the best opportunities and deals on offer.
In response to a highly competitive, knowledge-oriented global economy, where more and more complex data is generated for executive decision making, AIM is also preparing to launch a Master’s degree in Data Science by next year. In response to climate change and other widespread disasters, a degree program on Disaster Risk Management is also in the works. Later this year, AIM also plans to hold the Asian Forum on Enterprise for Society.
Expansion and renovation of physical facilities is also planned in the near future to accommodate the needs for the new initiatives.
Dr. Kang expresses her appreciation for the wholehearted support she is getting from AIM’s Board of Trustees and its international Board of Governors. She has also expressed confidence in her faculty which she says is “excellent.”
In a desire to help generate new knowledge on management issues for business, government and society, AIM has also become more research-oriented while maintaining its tradition of being practitioner-oriented and grounded in current reality.
Meanwhile, AIM is taking its Asian-ness more seriously, and in addition to its chapel, has allocated space for a prayer room for Muslim students, as well as for yoga and t’ai chi classes.
A marketing group has been set up within the Institute, to respond to the highly competitive situation among graduate schools of business in Asia where once it was considered the “prized jewel,” having been founded with assistance from Harvard. AIM’s first president, Stephen Fuller, was in fact, a Harvard professor. He was followed by Sixto K. Roxas, the late Gabino Mendoza, the late Felipe Alfonso, AIM Alumnus Francis Estrada, former Cabinet members Roberto de Ocampo and Edilberto de Jesus, and Stephen Krey, the second non-Filipino to head the AIM.
Indeed, AIM is buzzing with activity in anticipation of the changes that are coming, as it turns 50 in year 2018.
Dr. Kang says she draws inspiration from Richard Branson who wrote that “Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision, and change.” She adds, “we need to embrace change as well as engender it.”
The venerable Washington Sycip, AIM Chairman emeritus, for whom the flagship MBA program is named says, “I fully support and congratulate AIM on its rebranding initiative as it signifies the institution’s efforts to bring itself closer to business and society, where profit meets purpose — and business growth sustains social good.”
Oscar Lopez, member, Board of Governors says “(AIM) remains true to its heritage and the values of its founding families: to provide an excellent education for Asia’s next generation to be responsible change makers in business and society.”
Napoleon “Polly” Nazareno, former CEO of PLDT and Smart Communications, AIM alumnus and Chairman, AIM Board of Governors and Board of Trustees says “Our rebranding exemplifies the transformative education that seeks to benefit Asia’s future leaders and managers.”
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, member, Board of Governors, says “AIM has always had a history of ‘firsts’ and this rebranding project is testament to its pioneering spirit and its efforts to grow meaningfully in different and disruptive ways, so that it remains at the forefront of transformational and inspirational leadership.”
Teresa S. Abesamis is a former professor at the Asian Institute of Management and an independent development management consultant.