eNEWSLINE - Business Education News from AACSB International

Interview with Industry: Bringing the Reality of Business to the Business School

August 2014


Neil Braun, Dean, Lubin School of Business, Pace University
> Read Neil's bio

Dominique Turpin, President, IMD, Nestlé Professor
> Read Dominique's bio

Facilitated by: Sarah Ham, Senior Manager, Marketing Communications

How has your passion for education—and your career experiences—influenced your decision to be part of AACSB's Business Practices Council?

Braun: It was precisely because of my career ranging from Fortune 50 senior executive to internet entrepreneur that I sought to be Dean of the Lubin School of Business. When I asked myself in what context could my full range of experiences, temperament, passion for involvement with my own alma mater, and personal strengths be most valuable, I realized that being a dean of a business school was a strong possibility. Having just finished my fourth year as dean, I am more excited and challenged than ever to make sure that Lubin educates the whole person—all the dimensions that are necessary for success. The traditional academic learning goals are as necessary as they ever have been, but they are clearly not sufficient in this fast-changing global economy. We are, therefore, implementing curriculum and new programs to address the technical skills necessary for today's work environment, to ensure that our students achieve a level of social intelligence that is necessary to be effective in the working world. The Business Practice Council provides a unique opportunity to discuss how to best address the changing needs and demands of a competitive marketplace that demands more than basic knowledge of a business discipline.

Turpin: AACSB brings together some of the best representatives from business schools in the United States, as well as the rest of the world. It is always a great opportunity for networking, gaining insights into global market trends, and influencing the diverse AACSB agenda. Coming from outside of the United States, it is also a good occasion for me to contribute an external perspective, and to better understand what is going on in schools in the US. Over the course of my career, and in many executive education teaching mandates for IMD, I have had the opportunity to serve as a consultant and management educator for a number of large corporations ranging from Coca Cola to NestlĂ©. For me, being an educator has always run parallel to staying in touch with the realities of business—and by joining the Business Practices Council, I aim to continue on that path.

What do you hope or envision that the Business Practices Council can achieve that will support business school innovation and engagement?

Braun: The Business Practices Council already has affirmed what I hear anecdotally from alumni and employers, as well as what I know from my own personal experience. Having a highly placed group of hiring executives meeting regularly with business school deans provides the necessary formality to give credence to the gaps that exist and the needs to be addressed. It also is an ideal forum for learning how some of the most sophisticated businesses and progressive schools are addressing the changing needs of employers and the workforce.

Turpin: In this world of intense competition and cooperation, it is always great to share best practices, and understand where the business school world is going. Business education is at a crossroads with the influence of new technology, more international competition, more demanding participants, an uncertain workplace, and numerous other factors. I believe the Business Practices Council can be a conduit for dialogue between business schools and other institutions. As business educators, we have a role in commercial and corporate landscape of the future, and by sharing unique ideas and breakthrough developments we will make our own intuitions better—as well as the future for all.

Are there any challenges facing global business today that could be better approached through a partnership with academe?

Braun: With the growing availability of data and the accelerating rate of change, businesses can benefit from increased engagement with faculty by sponsoring more research relevant to their businesses. For example, credit ratings agencies have come under fire and no new model has proven itself to be a viable replacement; issuers might benefit from sponsoring research or competitions to develop alternative methods for establishing creditworthiness.

Turpin: The difficulty of leading a business in today's world is that thanks to globalization, technology, and the pace of innovation, things are changing faster than they ever have before. Global business must continue to stay fresh and ensure that their main capital—the dedicated employees working for them—are not only ahead of trends, but are effectively responsive when they occur. It is only through an investment in people that a company will evolve, and business schools are one of the best ways of empowering with the gift of knowledge. Through a partnership with a school like IMD, businesses could gain a more global perspective from the faculty, the school's participants and the broader corporate world. IMD develops leaders who have a truly global mind-set, which is important in today's borderless world where people, goods and capital can and do move almost anywhere.

What are the three (3) most important things institutions must do now in order to remain relevant to industry—both now, and well into the future?

Braun: (1.) reemphasize the traditional academic learning goals of critical thinking, oral and written communication, global perspective, quantitative analysis and ethical behavior; (2.) make sure students are highly competent on the software platforms that are intrinsic to entry level positions; (3.) infuse the education we provide with the social intelligence to build strong inter-personal relationships and achieve organizational effectiveness by engaging in mentored, hands-on learning experiences like internships, academic competitions, and student leadership.

Turpin: Staying close to the concerns of businesses is number 1, 2 and 3. Unfortunately, I think the academic world is becoming more academic and increasingly divorced from the realities of business. Business school faculty members' careers continue to be made on the 'publish or perish' principle at the expense of trying to face the real challenges of the business world. Remaining relevant has a lot to do with being in the action. As academics, the job needs to be working with industry executives and trying to address their needs and challenges. We are in an era that goes beyond theory and textbook analysis.

What is the one piece of advice you would give graduate students as they pursue business education?

Braun: To undergraduates and graduate students alike, do the hard work to be excellent at something. There is always a market for excellence, and having a deep skill is what gets you a seat at the table where you can demonstrate your broader abilities.

Turpin: They must stay relevant. It is not because you complete an MBA or finish a course on the latest thinking in finance that your education is over. Learning never ends, so it is important to keep a mentality open to new ideas. I also would like to emphasize the importance of building and maintaining networks. Alumni are one of the best networks a school offers. Staying close to and engaged in your network is an aspect to continued learning.

Interview with Industry is eNEWSLINE's newest article series designed to introduce the members of AACSB's Business Practices Council (BPC) to our members. The BPC serves as a collaborative partnership for an ongoing, sustainable relationship between the business community and business schools at the management education industry level. Contributors share candid thoughts on the importance of aligning management education with effective business practices.