Today we interview Professor Angus Laing who is Dean of Business and Economics at Loughborough University. Before becoming Head of Business & Economics at Loughborough University he was Professor of Management and Head of School of the University of Glasgow Business School. Over the years, he has held chairs in several organisations such as Open University Business School. In addition, he has also held several editorial roles, in well respected and prestigious publications.

What non-academic skills do you believe are important for young entrepreneurs in today’s economy?
Ability to envision the future and develop products or services that address the needs of contemporary lifestyles

How important do you believe it is for young entrepreneurs to have a tertiary level academic qualification such as a degree?
It is hugely beneficial in that it develops the ability to analyse market opportunities, articulate a coherent business case and network effectively with diverse groups.

Do you believe small businesses have a greater or lesser chance of success than five years ago?
The great ideas will still flourish with passionate and effective leadership but the challenge of securing the finance to develop ideas is much, much greater.

How do you see business schools changing during the next five to ten years?
Becoming more focussed on innovation and enterprise than traditionally, and less focussed on financial engineering.

What’s your opinion regarding Lord Alan Sugar’s recent comment about university education “…not required to be successful in business”?
Not required but unquestionably beneficial in providing the critical skills and networks which underpin success.

Many working within the employment sector say today’s graduates don’t have the ‘soft skills’ necessary to achieve in the real world – what’s your opinion on their view?
The best universities, the best programmes develop those skills as core part of the curriculum. Employability figures highlight the differences between the best and the rest.

In a diminishing economy, do you believe postgraduate business degrees are still as important as they once were?
For students coming from a science or engineering background, a post grad management programme can provide the expertise and impetus of develop a business idea, to transition into a management career

How do you see new types of business degrees such as the ‘Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)’ affecting businesses?
Business Schools both shape, and respond to, the needs of business. The core function must be to enhance the business capacity of UK plc.