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A Seat in the Second Row with Mission in Mind

November 2012

Meet Bob Reid, executive vice president and chief accreditation officer

If you ask Bob Reid, AACSB's new chief accreditation officer, about one of the more significant moments in his career, he'll glance thoughtfully around the room and smile (as he often does) before answering. "There were a lot of small moments that had a tremendous impact on me—lessons I made sure I imparted to my colleagues throughout my career." Reid believes that life is about the smaller moments; the ones that sneak up and teach lessons that can't be taught any other way.

What You're Doing Right Now is the Most Important Thing You're Doing

After reflecting on his academic experiences, his career in James Madison University's department of marketing and hospitality management, and 15 years as the dean at JMU's College of Business in Harrison, Virginia, Reid recalls a time during his graduate studies at Virginia Tech that colored his perspective from that moment on. During a meeting with a professor, he asked about the keys to success. Expecting a lengthy discussion about perseverance, dedication, and tenacity, the answer that came next was a bit surprising and far less arduous: whatever you're doing at that moment in time is the most important thing you're doing. In a way, it was simple—focus on what's in front of you. But this insight meant far more to Reid. It's not just about tasks, it's about people. Everyone is important, and each person deserves your undivided attention. Taking time to understand (and unleash) people's creativity, inhibitions, and even their anxieties leads to great things. Pay attention. Encourage. Great things will come.

With Mission in Mind

Having led JMU through a successful maintenance of accreditation process prior to his departure, Reid comes to AACSB with a unique understanding and appreciation for accreditation. "As a global organization, everything we do must evolve from our mission of advancing quality management education worldwide. It's not just about earning AACSB Accreditation—the depth and breadth of our resources enables us to embrace a broader set of business schools, helping them improve regardless of their status," says Reid.

An initiative that holds particular importance for Reid is that of the Committee on Issues in Management Education (CIME), charged with identifying emerging issues and challenges in management education on a global basis. Over the years, CIME has isolated key areas of focus and dedicated resources to the research and analysis of challenges, including ethics education in business schools, why management education matters, and the globalization of management education (to name a few.) As a dean, Reid leveraged the insight from groups like CIME helped him make "data informed decisions, rather than data-driven decisions"—a nuance that varies depending on the situation, yet reflects Reid's methodical and thoughtful nature. As a dean, AACSB's resources also helped Reid 'ask the right questions' in the context of some complex challenges, and he strongly believes this approach can help schools around the world. "It's our responsibility to help every school, from the Ivy Leagues to those in emerging economies, to consistently improve and innovate within the context of their mission. Joining together and creating a culture of consistent and purposeful action will inevitably lead to the best in management education."

A Seat in the Second Row

The list of Reid's accomplishments as dean at JMU is impressive—from establishing the thriving Gilliam Center for Free Enterprise and Ethical Leadership to the significant effort of establishing a fully—integrated undergraduate curriculum are just two examples. But if you ask him to list more, he probably won't. He'd rather drive the conversation toward what he thinks is the most important thing—helping others succeed. "I never wanted to be the guy in the front row or the one taking the credit," says Reid. "The most rewarding experience is watching someone achieve success, living vicariously through their journey, and shining the spotlight on them. If I had a hand in that success, that's great. But, I'll be in the second row cheering them on."

Reid's approach to the nearly 100-year-long mission of AACSB is defined in a similar construct and will invariably have a positive impact on all of AACSB's member schools as they continue to strive towards their own success—whether that success includes accreditation or not. Ever humble, Reid believes that creating an environment of collaboration leads to a wealth of creative, innovative, and out-of-the-box ideas. While at JMU, he encouraged faculty and staff to follow their heads (and their hearts) toward new ideas—to always do what came naturally.

Move Little Dirt

An avid golfer, Reid's bucket list is an impressive compilation of courses around the world that he's ticking off one at a time. But it's not just a game to Reid—he holds a refined appreciation for the aesthetics of it all, the seamless blending of nature and sport that's brought him to some of the most scenic locations in the world. One if his favorite golf course architects, Tom Doak, has been described as iconoclastic, cerebral, a traditionalist, and a radical. And, despite being thought of as a radical, he's also considered one of the most trusted consultants to the most conservative golf clubs in America.

Just as Doak is entrusted with the cultivation of a new golf course, Reid is now trusted with fostering AACSB's mission (its landscape, if you will) for the next iteration of global business education. Reid believes that risk is required to drive innovation, but with measured thought and careful consideration of what already exists. "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space—but that edge must be a concise and measured boundary," says Reid, "change should come, but (like developing a new golf course) you should move little dirt and preserve the integrity of the foundation."

A fundamental tenet of golf is that of playing the ball as it lies. It requires the golfer to accept responsibility for their previous actions and inevitably builds character—a lesson that life brings to all of us at some point or another. In The Minimalist Manifesto, Doak notes, "you can blame anything you want for your errors—a bird chirping in your backswing, bad karma from a previous life ... but then you have to go play the next shot from wherever you hit it." Reid shares this philosophy and finds that in that all the work he's done, every decision builds upon itself and ultimately shapes success. Mistakes will be made along the way—we're all human. Take things seriously (but not too seriously), have the capacity to laugh at yourself, evaluate what's been done and move forward.

"Do what you think is right, and everything else will fall into place," says Reid with a smile.

Want to learn more? View Reid's full bio.

>View Full Bio

Bob Reid will share his perspectives on accreditation during the upcoming broadcast of eNEWSLINE Live, December 13, 2012.

> Click here to learn more.