‘A Tremendous Opportunity To Make Positive Change': B-School Deans Share 2023 Resolutions

new year's resolutions 20232022, like 2020 and 2021, 'tested us in ways that few could have previously imagined,' says François Ortalo-Magné, dean of London Business School. But from the ongoing…

‘A Tremendous Opportunity To Make Positive Change': B-School Deans Share 2023 Resolutions

2022, like 2020 and 2021, 'tested us in ways that few could have previously imagined,' says François Ortalo-Magné, dean of London Business School. But from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and global cost of living crisis — as well as 2022's biggest new crisis, the war in Ukraine — have emerged 'critical conversations around climate change, sustainability, and social equality.

'None of these issues is easy to address,' Ortalo-Magné says in offering his 2023 New Year's resolution, one of 12 business school deans in the United States and Europe to contribute this year to Poets&Quants‘ annual feature (see deans' resolutions for 2021 and 2022).

'So little is under the direct control of business schools,' Ortalo-Magné continues, 'but our alumni and corporate partners are well-positioned to drive change. At London Business School, we are resolute in our commitment to giving them greater access to research insights and learning opportunities.'

London Business School Dean François Ortalo-Magné: 'Our impact is amplified when our alumni and corporate partners are supported with the content and connections they need for today and tomorrow'

Ortalo-Magné welcomes the impact that LBS' partners, alumni, and students can have in 2023 'when supported with the content and connections they need for today and tomorrow.' Which is why the school launched its Forever Forward Campaign in 2022: 'to better serve our alumni and corporate partners, and to amplify their impact,' he adds.

'The five-year campaign seeks to double the number of scholarships we offer to attract the brightest minds and enrich our diversity, invest in research to power individuals and organizations, develop the school's learning environment, and unleash innovation.

'We will promote connections, collaborations and ambitious thinking around the globe. As dean of London Business School, I resolve to serve our community and amplify everyone's impact.'

On the other side of the globe from London, Frank Hodge, dean of the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle, echoes some of Ortalo-Magné's sentiments: 2023, Hodge says, will be about living up to the Foster School's 'North Star' —  'Better Humanity Through Business.'

'As we strive to live this purpose, two themes will continue to dominate our conversations in the coming year,' Hodge says. 'The first is the heightened urgency and increased impact of business leaders addressing environmental and societal issues. For example, today's leaders absolutely must possess the skills and attitudes necessarily to deeply embed climate change and societal inequities (e.g., homelessness, educational inequalities) into their decision-making frameworks. It is no longer adequate to assess the impact of a decision on a business. We must assess its impact on our communities and humanity as a whole.

'The second theme is flexibility in how we work, learn, and interact with others. We, and almost every organization including corporations, are still struggling with balancing in-person experiences with remote or hybrid experiences. Continuing to have a growth mindset and explore how challenges can become opportunities in this space is critical to defining the workspaces and cultures of the future.'

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou of Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business: In 2023, 'we will leverage our greatest asset, human ingenuity'

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, dean and Richard P. Simmons professor of finance at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, used the new year as an opportunity to promote The Intelligent Future, a key element in her school's 2023 strategic plan.

'My New Year's resolution is to continue to develop the building blocks of The Intelligent Future,' she says. 'Here at the Tepper School, our innovative approach to business is data-informed and human-driven. In the new year, we will dive into cutting-edge research. We will explore how artificial intelligence and digital transformation can best inform our work.

'Most importantly, we will leverage our greatest asset, human ingenuity, as a Tepper School education recognizes that the human touch is an essential tool for effective business leadership. Being human means understanding the importance and impact of building a sustainable and inclusive world.

Innovation is central to Jennifer Conrad's resolution, too. The interim dean and Dalton McMichael distinguished professor of finance at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School says while she has 'never been good at New Year's resolutions,' as the spring semester begins, 'I will double down on my ‘academic year' resolution: to advance the innovations and significant activities that are underway across UNC Kenan-Flagler and work to maintain the considerable momentum that we have achieved together across the school. We will hand the new dean an excellent institution and some thoughtful recommendations for the future.'

Cambridge's Conrad Chua: 'It would be a mistake for business schools in 2023 to simply rewind the clock to 2019'

Back in the UK, Conrad Chua, executive director of the MBA program at Cambridge University's Judge Business School, says the school's leadership is resolved 'not to wind the clocks back to pre-pandemic days.'

'This past year will go down as the year most of the business school world thankfully moved away from that pandemic footing that hung over us,' Chua says. 'For schools like Cambridge Judge Business School, as we enter 2023 the buzz is back in the buildings as we see students on campus.

'However, it would be a mistake for business schools in 2023 to simply rewind the clock to 2019 — and we resolve not to do so. The past few years have taught us valuable lessons about technology, teaching delivery and our community. While the return of in-person teaching is very welcome, business schools are going to use the next year to find their sweet spot in blending in-person with online teaching.

'One area where there will be a lot of experimentation will be in how business schools connect with their alumni. Our relationship with alums is going to be much deeper as these graduates of our programs look to schools for continued learning — so we plan to be inventive in devising such continued learning, while taking on board feedback from alumni as we continually refine our offerings.

'At Cambridge Judge Business School, we are using a range of in-person and online outreach to cater to our diverse alumni. Our Dean and faculty are hosting in-person master sessions with alumni in key cities around the world. We are also generating online content across text, pre-recorded video and livestreams to create an online learning community across alumni and students. An inaugural online learning festival for our Cambridge community will be held in summer 2023. The community will learn a lot from each other and the School will learn about how our community wants to learn.

'I am excited to see how our community responds and what other schools learn from their efforts to strengthen their alumni communities. That's part of continued learning for business schools so they can better help their alumni with continued learning.'

Dr. Jenny Chu of the Wo+Men's Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School

In another resolution from Cambridge Judge, co-Academic Directors Jenny Chu and Feryal Erhun and Executive Director Tracey Horn of the B-school's Wo+Men's Leadership Centre offer their hopes for 'a deeper grasp of the challenges and opportunities of gender diversity,' while expressing concern that 'the pandemic and economic downturn have disproportionately affected working women, and many gains in organizational gender equity achieved in recent years are in danger of being diminished.

'Therefore, in 2023 we will recommit to helping women realize and embrace their potential to become successful leaders in all sectors, irrespective of how well women have previously been represented,' they write.

'As we usher in 2023, our resolution is to generate a deeper grasp of the challenges and opportunities of gender diversity through academic research and by engaging across generations — from high school students to board chairs. So that gender issues are not only understood but actively engaged with in our hearts and minds. So that we move beyond tick-box exercises, and real progress is made.

'We will seek to break all bias, expand the pool of women with the requisite leadership skills, and enable all to realise their potential in a world that deserves the rewards that true diversity can bring. In 2023, the Wo+Men's Leadership Centre will continue our focus on gender equity, with our annual conference dedicated to embracing equity and creating space for all to grow together. This includes mentorship and allyship for women in business to enable voices to be heard above the noise and to develop authentic leadership styles and a deep-seated sense of belonging.

'And we resolve to improve transparency in equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) policies. By highlighting best practices in EDI, we aim to help businesses and organisations understand their strengths and weaknesses in these crucial issues, implement better practices, and shed poor ones.

'So, the Wo+Men's Leadership Centre is looking forward to 2023 and actively taking on these challenges. We all have a lot to do!'

Cornell's Andrew Karolyi: Johnson School will strengthen its commitment to Responsible Research for Business and Management and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education

Dean Andrew Karolyi of Cornell University's SC Johnson College of Business resolves to 'continue to develop responsible, principled leaders equipped to effect change essential to achieving sustainable, shared prosperity.' In pursuit of this goal, he says, the school will continue to focus on 'inspiring and encouraging the development of high-impact, industry-relevant research and teaching by our faculty across all business and management disciplines.

'As a result of our college's shared principles with organizations like Responsible Research for Business and Management (RRBM) and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), their mission and values will provide a well-developed framework. The guiding principles of these organizations focus on a commitment to the core concept of corporate sustainability in our curricula, the importance of driving management research to align with the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and all in a way that is highly attuned to the needs of companies worldwide today.

'My resolution is to not only push our own college to strengthen our alignment with PRME and RRBM's core principles, but also to exhort other business school leaders to do the same in their own colleges and schools. The time is now, the need is acute, and we in the world of business education and research have a tremendous opportunity to make this kind of positive change.

'As part of our commitment to responsible research we must create as many pathways as possible for our faculty to interact with business leaders, whether by teaching in executive education courses, engaging industry through campus research centers, spending time with alumni to learn about their businesses, or serving on corporate boards where they will learn firsthand about the challenges companies are facing. We want to encourage faculty to highlight the impact of their work in their annual reviews; design formal rewards that recognize faculty for impactful research; and amplify the results of research findings in print, on websites, and at school events.

'An example of our efforts is our annual Research with Impact Report. This compendium focuses on elevating our research strengths and amplifying them to the broader community. We can do much more.'

Michigan Ross Dean Sharon Matusik: School will 'significantly ramp up fundraising' for scholarships

Sharon Matusik became dean of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in August. This month she looked ahead to what will be her first full year in the top job at one of the top public business schools in the U.S.

'The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection and renewal,' Matusik says. 'At Michigan Ross, we have big goals for 2023. We aim to continue to elevate our school's mission of building a better world through business. This means increasing our focus on highly impactful research, teaching excellence and innovation, and collaborations. This will mean devoting more attention to working effectively across the University of Michigan campus and beyond to generate innovative solutions to challenges we all collectively face from climate change, to economic inclusion and technology disruption.

'Action-based learning has long been one of our cornerstones, and we see this approach as more important than ever in the face of economic, technical, social, and global uncertainty. We aim to emphasize these opportunities for our students to gain real-world experience making decisions under uncertainty, working effectively in teams, and managing ambiguity.

'Another way we aspire to lift up our students is by doing all that we can to financially support them. In 2023, we will significantly ramp up fundraising efforts to create additional scholarships that will expand access and opportunities for the best and brightest individuals from all backgrounds, regardless of their financial circumstances.

'Last, but definitely not least, we aim to continue to build on the great pride and sense of community among students at Ross and the University of Michigan that will remain with them throughout their careers. The ‘Go Blue' culture at Michigan is legendary, and this pride and connection is more important than ever.  In the wake of Covid-19 and the mental health crisis that is impacting so many across the globe, we aim to focus on further strengthening these ties. We will invest more time and energy on programs and initiatives that foster an inclusive community where all feel welcomed and empowered to be their best selves.'

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