On September 1, 2014, I officially began my career at AACSB International, taking on the role of Senior Vice President of Accreditation and Member Services. Previously, I spent 24 years at the same university, 13 of them as dean of the business school. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as dean, and while saying good-bye to old friends was difficult, I was excited to begin a new chapter in life.
Two primary drivers made the decision to move to AACSB an easy one. The first was the value and enjoyment I received from my work as an AACSB volunteer. Serving on peer review teams, accreditation committees, and the board of directors as well as mentoring schools through the accreditation process were edifying and rewarding activities. The relationships and experiences I gained helped me become a better dean and broadened my network and understanding to a decidedly more global level.
The second driver for the move was my commitment to the mission and work of AACSB—that is, enhancing the quality of management education worldwide. Believing in the value of one's work is, to me, essential. It is what gets me up in the morning. The impact of business on society is enormous, and the need to optimize the way we engage as business schools is critical.
What has the transition been like? Well, I am learning a lot. Having moved from snowy Wisconsin to subtropical Florida, I have learned that it does not take as long as I expected to adjust to major differences in weather. I am also learning more about what it means to be a global organization. My years as a dean cause me to filter AACSB discussions and initiatives through a “what does this mean to me as a dean” lens. But I have learned that I cannot always project my own dean priorities onto the entire global business school population. As I have talked to deans at various regional meetings and at the Asia Pacific and Latin American Annual Conferences, I have come to appreciate the diversity of member perspectives—beyond simple geography.
The political, social, and economic landscapes in different state, country, and global environments impact respective priorities and needs. These priorities and needs are critical to the work we do here in the staff offices and in AACSB in a broader sense. That means I have to spend a lot more time listening and a lot less time assuming and talking. Daily discussions about standards, policies, and interpretations must be filtered through multiple lenses to do justice to the complexity of AACSB’s membership. What has become most clear to me is that AACSB International is not a body of staff in an office in Tampa or Singapore or Amsterdam. AACSB is all of the member schools. I am not sure I fully realized this before my transition.
I have been asked to share my goals for my new role in accreditation and member services. Broadly speaking and after two months on the job, I would have to say that my main goal is try to make the basic pillars of accreditation—innovation, impact, and engagement—part of the fabric of what I do, both in and out of the Tampa office. And to keep listening. I am still learning.