Making Leaders of The Future

On the rising need for teaching strategic leadership in the students to prepare them with skills and capabilities for the real world

Professor David MackayProfessor of Strategyand Academic Director
Professor David MackayProfessor of Strategyand Academic Director

Published: Wed 23 Feb 2022, 9:00 AM

There are very few decisions that are made in isolation. Most decision environments are strategic settings, in the sense that the outcome depends not only on what you do, but also on the actions of other individuals in the environment. Such settings may be cooperative or competitive, but a common factor is that decisions are interdependent: in order to determine your optimal decision, or strategy, you must consider how your competitors will make their decisions, and understand that they will also be thinking about the actions that you might take.

Undoubtedly, MBA students still have to have the general management knowledge in operations and commercial functions, but I think strategic leadership — which is the ability to lead your organisation in uncertain times — is going to be increasingly crucial and importantly, being able to continue to learn and create an environment for others to learn, will be a final key skill set for the MBAs of the future.

We all need to learn and adapt to the quickly changing world we find ourselves in. For the strategist, the new norm is for decision-making to take place in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous conditions (VUCA). So, getting a qualification which helps lay out, analyse and understand strategy makes sense. The MBA is a top choice for executives and managers: they use it to build their confidence and capabilities to be strategic leaders. The emphasis on strategy throughout the Strathclyde MBA allows our graduates to take what they have learned and apply it practically, to create new opportunities in the face of challenges.

At Strathclyde, students can study strategy with internationally-acclaimed academics. We set ourselves apart with our commitment to strategy as a core topic. We teach students multiple different perspectives and methods in how to engage with strategy and this sets us apart from other schools.

In our strategy module, students take four classes: Exploring the International Environment; Strategy Analysis and Evaluation; Making Strategy; and Exploring the International Business Environment, all with a strong emphasis on the practical nature of learning about strategy, and looking at how the future of business might change in terms of, for example, technology, the environment, values and demographics.

This is an applied degree using real case studies that so many students wish to do while they continue to work. So, we see a lot of students in the UK and at our international centres opting for the Executive MBA model, allowing them to combine their MBA studies and their work.

Strathclyde has always offered a practical MBA; the MBA allows you to see the whole picture and react accordingly. We see that being even more important for students nowadays. They must be able to leave the MBA with different capabilities so we place a strong emphasis on their practical skills and use practical methods to do so.

David Mackay is a Professor of Strategy and Academic Director of the MBA programme at the University of Strathclyde Business School. Previously, he has been an owner/director in a successful consultancy start-up and held production engineering and department management roles in Procter and Gamble's Product Supply division.


Abigail Davenport

Dubai Campus Manager

It is often questioned as to whether an MBA is still relevant for business, and certainly the answer to that in my experience, depends entirely on the business school — the credentials, the values, and the mission it sets for its students. The University of Strathclyde is ‘The Place of Useful Learning’ and that is at the core of everything we do. Our Executive MBA is innovative and relevant, with classes based on our world leading academic research, coupled with senior C-Suite Executive case studies and insights from industry partners. Students learn and debate real challenges for today’s leaders and how to anticipate, prepare and lead in the unknown future.

Riad Hallab

Finance And Accounting Manager, Current Student in Strathclyde MBA

The MBA broadened my critical thinking capability, it improved my strategic thinking mindset and allowed me to see things from different perspectives. As a leader, the MBA pushed me to further explore my entrepreneurial spirit through capitalising on several skills that were nurtured throughout the programme such as; stakeholder management, team building strategic planning and decision making.

To find out more about the Strathclyde MBA, visit

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