Blockchain in Business School: Interest among MBA students has not waned despite the crypto crash – Fortune | Jewelry Dukan

THROUGH Anastassia GliadkovskayaSep 07, 2022 1:21pm

Illustration by Martin Laksman

Few sectors are as volatile as cryptocurrencies. Over the past year, the value of digital currencies has skyrocketed, then plummeted, only to eventually implode with a widespread market crash, layoffs, and losses. Despite the uncertainty, academic interest in the industry has not waned, professors say.

“Crypto price rises and falls; interest is uncorrelated,” says Gregory LaBlanc, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley. “Crypto is one of those things that people feel they need to know if they are going to be an educated person in today’s business world.”

And crypto is no longer a niche. Companies across the board, from legacy banks to non-financial sectors, are increasingly exploring crypto options. Because of this, business students in MBA programs need to be familiar with digital assets and the ins and outs of a decentralized banking system.

“There is no question that there is still a lot of uncertainty, immaturity and hype in the blockchain space,” affirms Kevin Werbach, professor of law and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and director of the Wharton Digital Asset and Blockchain Project. Despite this, there is still a need for business schools to incorporate this burgeoning industry into their curricula. “We need people who work for large traditional companies and understand that.”

In response to interest from MBA students and demand from potential employers, some top-tier business schools are incorporating blockchain and crypto into their curricula. Here’s what you need to know.

How to evaluate the crypto content of an MBA program

Although the idea of ​​teaching crypto in business school is relatively new, there are a number of schools that offer courses: Stanford, Columbia University, Fordham University (Gabelli), and Miami Herbert Business School at the University of Miami. Because of the overlap in content, these classes may be housed in – or even taught in conjunction with – a business, law or engineering school.

Whichever program you choose, first try to get a basic understanding of the barter system, the gold standard, and modern checking accounts—this story will help you contextualize decentralized finance. Without understanding the basics of business, technology alone won’t help you succeed and vice versa.

“In general, for most people, the width you get is more valuable than something that’s narrower,” says Werbach.

For those just interested in understanding the concept, a crypto course could serve as a starting point to explore other areas such as data architecture, payment infrastructure, or contract execution. “Crypto really serves as a clearing house for a whole range of businesses,” says LaBlanc.

For those interested in starting or working for a crypto startup, an extra training step will go a long way — like an accelerator program that Berkeley Engineering offers.

Due to the rapid development of this field, it is important to seek an education that is not only taught by academics. As in other sectors, a program that brings in visiting practitioners will help to balance theoretical concepts with practical learning.

“It’s almost like trying to hit a moving target,” says David Yermack, a professor of finance and business transformation at New York University (Stern), who spearheaded the school’s early crypto course offerings. The school was among the first in the country in 2014.

According to Yermack, the location could also make sense. Some schools are close to major employers and offer a tailored curriculum to meet the needs of the local economy – and this proximity could be invaluable when looking for a job. Programs should also ideally be housed in schools with a naturally strong tech focus, and those that do at least some research in the field.

Ultimately, even if your first choice of MBA program doesn’t offer a course in crypto, look for other related courses such as fintech, cybersecurity, and risk management. Although Berkeley does not currently have a faculty-led crypto class, its fintech class does contain relevant elements. However, the school offers student-led courses in crypto for credit. LaBlanc will teach finance at Stanford Business this fall, where he plans to include crypto classes.

MBA graduates in blockchain, crypto roles will still learn on the job

Students looking for jobs in blockchain or crypto after graduation should expect stiff competition. With many startups going out of business this year, this trend is likely to continue in the future.

“There are some people who like to take risks, and MBA students tend to fit that profile,” says Yermack. “Crypto is ideal for them in many ways.”

Business school students should also be prepared to continue developing their skills after graduation. “An area that’s changing as fast as crypto — no matter how much you learn in an educational program, you’re going to have a tremendous amount to learn on the job,” says Werbach.

Wherever you work, whether in crypto or outside of it, there will be demand for this expertise. From Werbach’s point of view, one of the best positions is to work for an employer that does not focus primarily on new technologies, but where you have more experience in it than others.

Students should aim to build a “personal knowledge network” after graduation and engage with resources like podcasts and a community relevant to them like an online forum, says Werbach. This way you stay up to date with the latest trends and developments.

Professors are slowly expanding available graduate school offerings on crypto and digital assets. It’s an area “where both teaching and research need to move,” says Yermack. It will take time, but it is inevitable.

More and more companies will consider blockchain for a range of management strategies such as supply chain coordination. “These things are going to be so unexpected that they’re just going to be part of the normal business landscape,” says LaBlanc. When that time comes, specialized crypto courses will no longer be needed; it is integrated into the commercial curriculum. For the time being, the field remains green.

“It’s really important to develop a healthy skepticism and a bullshit detector, because there’s a lot of incredibly exciting technology out there,” says Werbach, before warning that some developments could turn out to be frauds. “To be successful, you have to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

See how the colleges you’re considering ranked in Fortune’s ranking of the best master’s degrees in data science (face-to-face and online), nursing, computer science, cybersecurity, psychology, public health and business analytics, and PhD in educational programs MBA programs (part-time, executive, full-time and online).

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