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Up Front: Planning for a Whole New Ball Game

April 2015

By John Fernandes, Co-President and CEO, AACSB International


As a diehard baseball fan, I just returned from two weeks off dedicating my time to welcoming back Major League Baseball from a very cold winter; at least that is the way it was in most of the U.S. Spring training began last month, and this was the 22nd year in a row I participated in this glorious rite of winter’s passage. It was fantastic! Now, everyone is not a baseball fan or even experiencing the onset of spring, but we can all imagine that time of the year in which the weather seems to gently embrace us after a seemingly long period of frigid rejection.

I spend a good deal of time during spring training thinking about how things are going and what needs to be done to further advance AACSB’s global mission. Often, lucid strategic direction has emerged as a beneficial byproduct of relaxation and staring endlessly at a deliberately moving athletic event under the watchful eye of the strengthening Florida sun.

But something was very different this spring training. Instead of devising strategies for AACSB’s next hurdle, I kept thinking about how my days will change as well as my priorities in just six short weeks. Retirement is now just a quick skip away. What should I do? My new life will be guided by a comprehensive strategic plan with goals somewhat different from my AACSB years. Good mental and financial health supplement an overarching goal of a high quality of life. Family engagement and leisure take over for globalization and mission fulfillment. It will be quite a change, and I recommend that anyone contemplating retirement develop retirement goals and a strategic plan to achieve them. Simply muddling through may work for some, but it does not for this “type A.”

After returning to work this week, I ran into an old friend, a former business school dean who had led his school with great success for more than 10 years. He took the time to tell me what a great job he thought I had done with AACSB. I thanked him but added, “You helped make it happen.” This gentleman dean was not about to take any credit, but without him and the hundreds, even thousands, of wonderfully dedicated AACSB volunteers, there would have been no globalization, thought leadership, value-added services, and most of all, no accreditation. When I reflect on the long hours and sincere commitment made by our volunteers during these 15 years I have witnessed, I am astounded. Be very proud of what you have accomplished; you are the gold in management education’s global medal of quality. I thank you with the highest admiration and spirit.

To our members, who nearly always become part of our vast volunteer legion, thank you for sticking with our global mission through thick and thin. Thank you for your encouragement and reminders that we can always do better. Finally, with all of my heart I thank the wonderful employees of AACSB who together have comprised a team that has made giant steps toward enlivening AACSB’s mission of “advancing quality management education worldwide.” Well done!

I wish AACSB’s new CEO, Tom Robinson, and all those striving to make AACSB a truly global association unparalleled success!

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our global membership to our first home, Tampa, Florida, USA, for ICAM 2015. Personally, I really hope to see you there. Thank you all for my AACSB adventure!