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New deans, new directions: changes at the top bring innovation to the traditionally staid world of top business schools.

Business school deans once cloistered themselves in ivy-covered towers within serene university settings, isolated from real world pressures. But no longer. Today, the top job at the world's top schools presents challenges akin to those faced by corporate CEOs. Competition among schools has intensified, international curriculum and campuses are now de rigeur, and faculty recruitment and retention is more challenging.

It's not easy to simultaneously maintain high rankings in league tables, lure faculty from higher corporate paychecks and partner with schools overseas--not to mention beef up executive education programs and raise endowment funding.

The demands of these new responsibilities are, in turn, shaping a new breed of dean, as well as shorter tenures and higher turnover in the posts. The trend is evidenced by the recent "re-deaning" choices of Harvard Business School, INSEAD and Columbia, as well as the search for a replacement for Laura Tyson, who will leave her post as London Business School's dean this year. Under fire for curriculum that lacks real-life relevance and fails to instill ethical behavior, these and other top schools are appointing deans viewed as capable of bringing new thinking to the challenge of educating the corporate leaders of tomorrow--and charging them with doing just that.


Broader Is Better

The newly installed deans bring a broader range of backgrounds to the post, some with deep corporate experience and governmental roles. Consider Frank Brown. In May, the well-regarded International business school INSEAD named Brown as its first dean outside of academia. An American who previously headed up global services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Brown was a bold and controversial choice.

A 26-year veteran of PwC, Brown brings a corporate manager's perspective to running INSEAD. "Schools are capable of being well-run businesses," he says, adding that the job of dean carries the same responsibilities as that of a CEO, such as allocating spending to high-priority programs, managing cash flow, reporting to a board and recruiting and retaining talent.

The well-rounded career of Glenn Hubbard, who was named dean of Columbia Business School two years ago, encompasses government, business and academia. In addition to being a longtime faculty member at Columbia and a presidential adviser, Hubbard serves on the board of five major corporations.

Conversely, Harvard Business School Dean Jay Light is very much the academic, having spent his entire working life at his alma mater. Light began his doctoral program there nearly 40 years ago and became a faculty member shortly after that. Last August, he was charged with holding the fort until a new dean could be found. But Light won the post himself in April, after impressing the selection committee by steering a record $600 million fund-raising drive and a $25 million restoration of the school's Baker Library, all while keeping HBS near the top of the university rankings.

Already, the new deans at INSEAD, Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School are putting their stamp on programs and initiatives to update their schools' approaches to grooming tomorrow's corporate leaders. Initiatives under way range from global programs to groom young executives in multicultural skills to working toward bringing curriculum more in tune with the practical business-solving and team-building challenges of managing large corporate entities.

Countering Critics

Striking the right balance between educational coursework and more practical programs has become a major consideration for today's deans, says Harvard Business School Dean Jay Light. "It's a question of whether business schools can teach and do research that is both rigorous and relevant, or whether the pendulum has swung too far toward one at the expense of the other," says Light. "It will be crucial for business school deans to look carefully at what we teach and how we teach it. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to this challenge."

Glenn Hubbard of Columbia Business School agrees that business schools have been hit hard for being too removed from the business world, but argues that "it's really just false that business schools are out of touch." Business professors often have an impact in economy and society, notes Hubbard, whose own research work has helped shape the Bush administration's economic policy.

Still, Hubbard wasted no time making changes at Columbia. Soon after his appointment, he introduced a partnership program in executive education with Shanghai-based Fudan University--known as the Yale University of China--that will bring promising young Chinese people to the U.S. for a four-week training program. And a new partnership with Hong Kong University will bring up to 40 Chinese students to the New York City campus each year. The dean himself has found his way to Hong Kong, where he co-led a real estate executive education program for HKU.


Columbia's location near the New York City business hub helps the school keep abreast of changes within the corporate world. Under Hubbard's stewardship, however, faculty are encouraged to get out from behind the campus walls more often. The Columbia dean is a role model, having taken a leave of absence in 2001 to chair President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Currently, three Columbia business faculty members are on a one-year sabbatical for corporate jobs, including finance professor Laurie Hodrick, who is heading up equity research at Deutsche Bank.

Spruced-up leadership development programs for MBA students are another example of Hubbard's influence. "It used to be that MBA graduates had jobs that were more technical for a long time. Now they need leadership abilities earlier in their careers," he says. The new program features more case studies to help students prepare for quick decision-making. It also assists them in dealing with ethical concerns and balancing personal and professional lifestyle choices.


INSEAD's Brown, too, moved quickly. Only a few weeks into his first 100 days as the school's new dean, he introduced new initiatives for strengthening INSEAD's global offerings, making the coursework more practical and raising the school's profile abroad. Not surprisingly, given his corporate background, Brown issued rapid-fire directives more common to boardrooms and CEO offices than university administration halls. Even before he officially started his new job at INSEAD, the 49-year-old had picked his team, identified key strategic objectives and urged his team to get going on clearly defined new projects. (See sidebar, below.)

At Harvard Business School, Dean Light says he already has a "good handle" on the school from his long association there. But that's not stopping him from seeking opportunities to talk with faculty, staff, students and alumni about ways HBS can improve.

Areas he earmarked include entrepreneurship and technology, as well as health care--a logical step given Harvard's hospital and medical research facility surroundings. Exploring ways to extend the school's reach and impact abroad are also on his agenda, though Light points out that HBS prides itself on being a global institution with alumni, faculty and research centers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Attracting new faculty--the life-blood of an educational institution--who are committed to teaching and research as well as business practices is another challenge. Too often, the corporate world, with its higher-paying salaries and perks, is a "strong lure," Light says, and business schools "need to think carefully about how to develop and broaden the pipeline of qualified candidates."

But even as business schools adopt mantras heard in corporate halls--globalization, talent recruitment and results--Light, for one, warns that they must not ignore their roots. "Business schools are mission-driven, not profit-driven, organizations," he says.

Rather, deans today must embrace change and develop a thoughtful approach to the inevitable transformation in the way our executives of tomorrow are being trained.

RELATED ARTICLE: Lessons From Top Schools: A Look at the Latest in Executive Learning Programs

Anderson School of Management UCLA

Los Angeles, Calif.

Not typical leadership programs, courses at the UCLA Leadership Suite hone in on diverse audiences, attempting to examine management and leadership issues from the perspective of African Americans, women and gay and lesbian groups. The emphasis is on mentoring, personal development, workplace trust, work-life balance and team building. Among the aims of the leadership programs are helping corporations develop a more inclusive management team and encouraging participants to form networks of colleagues who share similar experiences.


Week-long programs in each diversity area are held annually with 30 to 50 participants per course.

Corporate participants: Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo.

Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

Athens, Ga.

The crown jewel for executive MBAs here is the Henley College Program. UGA campuses in Athens and Atlanta host MBA residency students from Henley Management College of Oxfordshire, U.K.


It has recently opened an executive education center in Atlanta's Buck-head business district. The Director's College is a key source for learning about the legal, fiduciary and ethical issues of serving on a board.

CFO roundtables held once each quarter to discuss such topics as Sarbanes-Oxley compliance are being rolled out to major cities in partnership with George Washington University.

Corporate participants: UPS, Southern Co.

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

Durham, N.C.

Bridging the Atlantic, top-tier executive educator Fuqua offers leadership classes in concert with the London School of Economics. Fuqua is also branching out to India, where a program with the Indian Institute of Management will be introduced this fall and a two-week custom program will start this September for Indian outsourcing provider Genpact. China may be next, says director Bill Bigoness. Genpact consultant Smriti Ahuja says the program will help corporate leaders develop skills for managing rapid growth. Classes for the GE spin-off will be taught in several languages.


Corporate participants: HSBC, Ericsson, Genpact

Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina

Columbia, S.C.

Director Charlie Ferrell admits USC lacks a big brand name so the school zeroes in on certificate programs for middle managers, front-line managers and financial planners.

One leadership and financial training certificate for school principals and superintendents is held in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership. USC also has strength in international business, with its new "Leading the Global Enterprise Program," and a partnership with the Tecnologico de Monterrey-EGADE in Guadalajara, Mexico.


Corporate participants: Enodis Plc

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Va.

CEO David Newkirk says "there's nothing new in leadership training, but there's a lot of innovation around that needs leadership." For instance, UVA also offers performance improvement training for school principals and superintendents. Peer-to-peer rather than hierarchical models of managements are stressed in programs on implementing change from the middle and leading cross-functional teams. Training for corporate leadership at knowledge-based organizations and leading organic growth are two other areas of concentration.


Corporate participants: United Technologies, Northrop Grumman

Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Atlanta, Ga.

Executive director Kelly Bean sees corporate transformation or "bringing groups together to create a new order" as a hot area of executive education leadership programs today. Customization and flexibility are hallmarks of Emory's approach, he says. An Action Learning program takes a business challenge and assigns students to work on the project for one or two weeks and deliver a solution to the corporation. The school has a deepening relationship with Ashridge Business School in the U.K. to deliver more European content in its programs and has also partnered with the London Business School and the Singapore Management University.


Corporate participants: Home Depot, Continental Hotels Group, Lockheed Martin


Lausanne, Switzerland

This internationally oriented school is a popular center for executive learning not only because of its location on Lake Geneva but for its "Orchestrating Winning Performance Program," a six-day global conference held early summer for approximately 200 to 250 CEOs worldwide. Co-director Jan Kubes says the program emphasizes leadership for results, balancing personal/professional life, processing for profits, marketing for growth and other such broad topics. Kubes says one top CEO from a major Rotterdam-based infrastructure developer enjoys the program so much he's been back six times now. School also prides itself on "real world" learning with a case study approach.


Corporate participants: DHL, Van Oord


With dual campuses in Fontainebleau and Singapore, INSEAD has long been known for global perspective and multicultural diversity. But that's no longer enough, says Frank Brown, the school's new dean.

"The world's next generation of leaders must have transcultural skills," he asserts. "They need to have an appreciation and understanding of cultures, and know, for instance, how to relate and behave when they walk off a plane. This is a well-honed skill, not a crash-and-burn exercise."

Brown's priority is on introducing promising leaders of tomorrow to international markets, the booming market of China in particular. To that end, he intends to introduce internships in China for students enrolled at INSEAD's Singapore campus. He also plans an important next step in China in launching a joint executive MBA program with Beijing's highly regarded Tsinghua University--an all-in-one Chinese counterpart to Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With plans to spend as much as one-quarter of his time at the Singapore campus, the well-traveled former PwC global executive will serve as a role model.

Making INSEAD's leadership development offerings more practical is another of Brown's mandates. He aims to revamp the school's AVIRA (short for awareness, vision, imagination, responsibility, action) five-day leadership skill program for senior-level managers. His key goal? To help participants come away with deeper insights on what it takes to be a CEO.

He also wants INSEAD, which has not universally enjoyed the prestige recognition of Harvard or Wharton, to be better known. One planned profile-raiser is a series of courses centered on a new curriculum called the Blue Ocean Institute. The name comes from Blue Ocean Strategy, a book on creating market leading positions for brands and toppling competition penned by two INSEAD faculty members. "We want to give these professors a platform to take their work to the next level," explains Brown.

Brown has also focused his attention on better administration. In short order, he defined a strategic direction for every project, assigned new managerial roles to seven key staffers and faculty and named a new head of executive education, former marketing professor Erin Anderson. "Our executive education program was screaming out for better organization," he says. "It was hard to discern a strategy around it."


The clearer focus, Brown says, should have the added benefit of all-important fund-raising drives "for our next stage of growth." It should also help INSEAD improve its standing as a training ground for tomorrow's corporate leaders.
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Title Annotation:EDUCATION
Author:Fannin, Rebecca A.
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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