New generation of deans leads Atlanta area business schools into the future
A new school year will soon be starting, and thousands of students will crowd into
(Jul 25, 2014) — A new school year will soon be starting, and thousands of students will crowd into
Georgia’s business schools. What’s the future of business education? What are the
changing business education needs of employers? Who better to ask than the educators
who lead the schools?
Link To Articlehttp://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2014/07/25/new-generation-of-deans-leads-atlanta-area.html
So Atlanta Business Chronicle posed these questions and others to five business school
deans: Erika Hayes James of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Maryam Alavi of Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, Kathy S. Schwaig of Kennesaw State University’s Michael J. Coles College of Business, Susan P. Gilbert of Mercer University’s Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics; and Faye McIntyre of the University of West Georgia’s Richards College of Business. Their comments have been edited for length.
What are the challenges students (and business schools) are facing today, and what
are your schools doing to address these challenges?
James: One of the challenges is a need for greater global competence … Our role as leaders
of a business school is to be much more adept moving forward to make sure that our
graduates are adept and facile in the broader global world.
Alavi: Obviously the globalization is going to continue, and emerging economies join in
global markets very fast. That creates an opportunity for all businesses, but it also
creates great competition so that is an important issue …
Schwaig: I think business schools are in the middle of a drastic change in higher education.
I think the public looks at higher education differently than it did years ago … We
as business schools need to make sure that our value proposition is in place, that
students have a reason for higher education and that that benefit is there for them.
McIntyre: Both students and business schools face similar challenges today – communicating
value. For students, a key constituent is potential employers. Upon graduation, students
must convey to employers what value they can bring to the company.
Gilbert: The students coming to business schools … know that business education provides a
great leg up in getting desirable first jobs and ultimately, promotions and satisfying
careers. However, they are naïve … regarding the importance of communications skills
and preparation for meetings, interviews and networking opportunities.
What are you seeing employers asking for right now, in terms of qualities they want
in their employees and knowledge they want these new recruits to have?
McIntyre: Communication skills are top among employer requests. Unfortunately, students sometimes
write as if they were texting friends instead of communicating professionally. Technology
has helped business in many ways, but it has also created some challenges in communication
Gilbert: The consistent message I get from employers is that they want loyal, responsible
individuals with good communication skills, business knowledge and analytics capabilities.
They want employees who are comfortable with social media, data retrieval and analysis,
as well as traditional topics taught in business schools.
James: One of the things that kept coming up [with employers] time and time again was …
to be adaptable and flexible … The other, I would say … is a cultural competence,
the ability to work across cultural values and norms and languages in order to understand,
make decisions and work together.
Alavi:… What we hear increasingly is [employers are looking for candidates who have] tech-savvy
and analytical skills, and really having an entrepreneurial mindset so they can come
up with new ideas of how to leverage capabilities that technology is offering to be
able to create value for the business and consumers and society in general.
Schwaig:… I think having an interdisciplinary mindset is very important. I also think being
creative is very important. We no longer need students that act like robots, that
can just answer questions and respond in a certain way. We need employees that can
be creative, that can ask the questions that haven’t been asked yet …
How has being a woman in business changed in recent years? Do you think this change
Gilbert:… It is not as hard as it used to be to identify great female business speakers, mentors,
faculty, students and alumni to engage with business schools. At Mercer, our enrollments
in the most recent full-time and executive MBA programs are at least 50 percent female,
as is the representation of women on our faculty …
James:… Leaders of tech companies are women; that was unheard-of even 10 years ago. Women
are in the highest branches of government and the nonprofit sector that are leading
tremendously important institutions. I think that visibility that we’re seeing women
leadership will create the next wave [of change in the workplace] …
Schwaig: I think what’s happened over time is that women now can truly be themselves in these
[leadership] roles. Because they’ve really entered business in a time when it was
a man’s world and was defined by the terms that men had established, they oftentimes
had to go in and play by those rules, but now you have women in there shaping those
rules and shaping the culture of organizations in such a way that I think it’s a lot
more comfortable for women to be in business now.
Alavi:… I think certain barriers still remain. The term that has been used is second-generation
discrimination for women. These are biases that are not overt … in many cases that
are not even intentional … There’s this perception that men are more competent … This
creates a situation where women have to work so much harder in the same position for
the same opportunities.
McIntyre: Women are still in the minority in business C-suites and among business school deans.
However, more women are being bold enough to step into leadership roles or to decline
roles that aren’t a good fit …
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.