Professor Bijan Fazlollahi
At one time there was little or no need for business education in the planned economy of the former Soviet Union. With the demise of the U.S.S.R., however, and the emergence of private versus state-owned companies, developing a workforce that could deal with the new free market system became paramount.
The need for business education was recognized and acted on time and there was granted necessary assistance by the Georgia State University (GSU) of the USA/Robinson Business to obtain a grant from the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to establish an MBA program at the Azerbaijan State Oil and İndustry University/ASOİU (former Azerbaijan State Oil Academy-ASOA) in Baku in partnership with the GSU.
Rafik Aliev and I were honored for our efforts in building the program into what is now considered to be one of the best MBA programs in the country.
A quick look at the numbers speaks to the success of the program. From an initial class in 1999 of fewer than 10, the ASOİU - Robinson MBA now has more than 150 students enrolled every year. In its about 20 year history more than 1000 students graduated from the program.
Now, the ASOİU's MBA program filled the void for advanced business education. The program not only offers up-to-the-minute curriculum, the curriculum is also taught in English primarily by local faculty.
Initially we took the ASOİU's best faculty regardless of subject and turn them into business instructors. Later some of the brightest graduates of the MBA program completed the faculty development program in Atlanta and also joined the ranks of the MBA faculty. It's like the ancient proverb says, 'Give a man a fish, and you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’
But it’s not only trained Azerbaijani professors who teach at the school. Robinson faculty also deliver curriculum on-site. Besides me, some of the Robinson faculty who taught in Baku included Robert Elrod from decision sciences, Dileep Mehta from finance, Don Barton and Fred Jacobs from accountancy, Chris Lemley and Sevo Eroglu from marketing, Deborah Butler from management and Judy Quick, a BellSouth Corporation executive and temporary instructor in international business.
Today many of the ASOİU’s MBA graduates are employed by the Azerbaijan private sector and, doubtless, many more will find themselves in key positions in Azerbaijan and throughout the world as the ASOİU program continues to grow and develop.