We are finally feeling the warmth of spring on the AU campus after what felt like a very long winter. This is an especially busy and exciting time of year, as we prepare to say goodbye to our graduates while simultaneously welcoming admitted and prospective students who are visiting campus.
I must take a moment to brag about our undergraduate education. It has been clear to me for some time that AU is an exceptional place for undergraduate students. At Kogod specifically, our program has seen increasing recognition over the last few years. BusinessWeek recently ranked Kogod the No. 56 “Best Undergraduate B-School” in the country, the third straight year we saw an increase. And today, it was announced that Kogod is No. 1 in sustainability.
Of course, rankings don’t always tell the full story. To me, one of Kogod’s biggest strengths is reflected when we partner with our colleagues across the quad.
Take our Business, Language & Culture Studies (BLC) degree, which incorporates a foreign language requirement through the College of Arts & Sciences and a required study abroad experience. One of our BLC students, was in the audience at our spring CEO Speaker Series event, which featured CEO Rudolf Araneda of the Chilean energy company GasAtacama. I was proud to listen to the informed and impressive questions she asked Rudolf, and to hear her engage with other Chilean officials who were present at the reception that followed, in their native language. It is easy to spot the value of the BLC degree in exchanges like that one.
I am also proud to announce Kogod’s new BS in Business and Entertainment (BAE) degree program. This is another program made possible by a cross-campus partnership. It is a sweeping update to our BS in Business and Music program, and it provides more opportunities for students who want to enter other sectors of the entertainment industry, such as talent management, film, or audio technology. BAE students will take courses in the College of Arts & Sciences and in the School of Communication, in addition to Kogod.
I am thrilled that John Simson, who has taught with us for several years now, has agreed to serve as Program Director. John has a wealth of experience as an entertainment lawyer. He has managed talent. He was on the front lines of the copyright battles, protecting artists’ interests in the digital age. And he founded and directed SoundExchange, the nonprofit that collects royalties from streaming recordings. I know that our BAE students will benefit greatly from his experience; John’s deep network of industry contacts allows for exceptional classroom speakers.
We’ll have another such speaker to look forward to on May 12, as we welcome Gary Veloric as our Commencement speaker. A mergers and acquisitions expert, Gary brought music to campus as a student in the ‘80s and is now reliving his love of spreading music at his record label, Red Stripe Plane Group.
As I travel across the country meeting with admitted students in cities like Raleigh and Atlanta, I am pleased to share news of degrees like these, along with our other valuable programs. I am also glad to share our strategic vision, that profit and purpose are not at odds, with these folks. It is satisfying to see and hear their very positive reactions when I tell them what sets us apart, conveying the unique community that is Kogod.
Peace and business may seem an unlikely pairing to some. But to those gathered at Kogod last week for the inaugural Peace Metrics conference, it was a natural combination.
We were proud to host almost 100 people—faculty, researchers, practitioners, and some impressive students—as co-sponsors along with the Institute for Economics and Peace. These folks came to Kogod to discuss not only how to achieve peace where it does not exist; they also seek to measure levels of peace, to better understand its variability.
Steve Killelea, executive chairman of the IEP—a person with an impressive list of achievements—kicked off the event. We were also privileged to have Jerry White from the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the State Department join us. The two spoke at the opening plenary alongside Associate Professor Jennifer Oetzel, who organized the conference. Jennifer’s research is focused on how businesses can manage risk in disasters or violent conflict—very appropriate for the assembled group.
The attendees covered a truly global range of topics, including the role of private property investment in post-conflict reconstruction; mobile technology for the business environment in Uganda; market violence in Mexico; land use planning and large-scale agribusiness deals.
The central belief, repeatedly reinforced was that business doesn’t exist simply for profit—there is a higher and greater purpose. I was pleased to see so many remarkable people working diligently to call attention to that belief. It is certainly the prevailing nature at Kogod, which we have identified through the school’s strategic vision, that profit and purpose are not at odds.
I left the Friday sessions with a new appreciation for both the academic and on-the-ground work on business and peace being done around the world. Many of the people I met had come to D.C. for the conference from far-off destinations. They are committed to the idea that business and peace can bolster one another.
The conference reinforced for me our central belief about the importance of profit and purpose in today’s business environment. Our alumni demonstrate this through their activities in many industries and sectors of the economy; our students are learning this in the classroom and from events like this one.
We will continue to explore this very important issue through our faculty’s research and conferences, as we did last week.
A little over two miles away from Kogod, on MacArthur Boulevard, is the headquarters of BioScan. It’s a 30 year-old technology firm I had the pleasure of visiting last week, along with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and members of his economic development team and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The mayor was there to announce an initiative that will help small firms like BioScan connect to funding opportunities through the Federal and State Technology (FAST) grant program. The groundbreaking equipment that BioScan manufactures facilitates life sciences research and informs the development of medical treatments.
Such small firms are often at a disadvantage when competing for Federal research and development awards, even though there are 11 federal agencies that give out more than $2.5 billion each year.
I was present to offer Kogod’s full support to the effort, which is part of the city’s strategy to expand the growth of high-paying, sustainable jobs. Specifically, the mayor’s economic development plan calls for 100,000 new jobs over five years. His goal is for the District to become the largest technology center on the East Coast. Last summer, I supported the city’s Department of Small and Local Business Development with its application for the grant.
The mayor spoke of the need for key partners in the academic sector, and said he would involve “the best universities in our innovation efforts.” In fact, Kogod students have already been involved, in the form of internships with the mayor’s office, conducting field research with businesses in the city.
When she spoke, Bridget Bean, district director for the U.S. SBA, said there was “no better place to start a business than the District of Columbia.” I’ve spoken to many entrepreneurs, alumni, and future business leaders who would agree. My new strategic vision for Kogod also prioritizes the advancement of entrepreneurs and innovation in the areas of green- and clean-technology and numerous other fields, right here in D.C.
Since my last post, I’ve been swept up in the rush of the fall semester, just as our students are. On the docket were travels to New York (for our annual Wall Street trip), the renewal of our AACSB accreditation, and finalizing Kogod’s new strategic vision, among other things.
I am very eager to share the strategic vision with you. The vision is the result of an inclusive process that involved input from all our constituents, including alumni. The challenge was to find something that organically reflected the strengths of our community, and will prove to be a market differentiator for our school.
This new vision will provide a roadmap for everyone at Kogod—faculty, staff, others—to be working in the direction I have laid out.
As I worked with various groups to identify our strengths, the resulting vision naturally unfolded. As I presented the idea to various stakeholders, it was met time and again with nods of approval.
Our new vision is built upon Kogod’s commitment to the belief that profit and purpose are not at odds. We fundamentally believe that future business leaders need to be able to think carefully about the sustainability and impact of their company’s operations. Our graduates will be best prepared to lead in private and public sectors, and they will understand and demonstrate the balance between profit and purpose.
We have always built the Kogod education on strong business fundamentals, but we will enhance them with:
- Making experiential learning, which is already occurring across the school, a top priority.
- Creating a deeper understanding of the roles private, public, and nonprofit organizations play, and how they are connected to one another.
- Further developing a global perspective in our students.
These three pillars will provide the structure for infusing the vision into all we do, and will become a distinct part of all our degree programs.
As I get together with business leaders and share this with them, their feedback is consistently positive.
When I recently met with the CEO of a major energy company in South America, I told him that Kogod believes profit and purpose are not at odds, and this belief will help our students be more successful. He stopped me and said, “No. You are wrong.”
I looked at him, surprised, until he continued: “You cannot be successful in the long run unless you believe that.”
As we forge ahead with implementing the vision, we will be looking for new ways to grow Kogod’s presence in Washington, D.C. and globally. We’ll be exploring the possibility of new research centers, new partnerships, and piloting new ideas. I will update you on our progress, dear readers, and I encourage you to email me with your thoughts.
A hearty welcome back to our returning students, and a special greeting to our new ones. Whether you’re a freshman or a new graduate student, starting your first fall semester is an exciting and potentially overwhelming time. Know that our excellent staff and faculty are here to support you. Seek out their assistance if you have questions, or just want to expand your network.
I’m especially looking forward to hearing about the internships, jobs, and experiences that our students had this summer. I recently authored a column for an information systems publication on the future of the IS field—my own academic background. One of the things I wrote was about the importance of real world application and practice for students. It’s a philosophy I have held for a long time.
Whether you spent the summer working with the mayor’s office to identify opportunities for economic development (as Andrew Olson and Erin Monahan, MBA ’13 did); or traveling to Tunisia to work with would-be entrepreneurs (like seven AU graduate students); or interning at one of many impressive companies in DC, New York, or beyond, like so many of our undergraduate students, that experience is a vital piece of your education. (We even had a pair of students intern in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia!).
That’s why when we review and update the curriculum for our courses, we are actively seeking experiential learning opportunities for Kogod students. It’s important to be in touch with what’s really going on in the marketplace—where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
I wish you all the best for a challenging and rewarding fall semester.
Recently I shared the story of my return to New Orleans, where I spent time after Hurricane Katrina in support of Tulane University. This summer, I had another flashback to a significant international experience when I was asked to moderate a discussion with Mitar Kujundzic, the ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to the United States.
It has been six years since I’ve been in the country, where I helped to establish the Sarajevo Graduate School of Businessfrom 2004-2006. SGSB was the first school in BiH to offer an MBA program, something the country sorely needed to help develop a trained managerial core.
Over two years I visited Sarajevo about ten times. I’m proud to say that we enrolled roughly 20 students in our first student cohort, just months after we were granted the USAID contract.
There was a real, palpable tension on the ground in 2004, with obvious signs of the war that had ended nine years earlier. I saw many “Sarajevo roses,” or imprints on walls and in the ground left behind from mortar explosions. It was also my first significant time in a predominantly Muslim country. My experience being there left a lasting impression.
When I met Ambassador Kujundzic at the Rumi Forum event last month, he spoke of “social harmony” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was gratifying to hear. I would not say that was the case while I was there, but I would love to return and see firsthand the progress that their society and economy have made.
Thank you to the Rumi Forum for the opportunity to revisit such an important time in my career. To those of you interested, you can listen to a podcast of our conversation here.
Recently I’ve been meeting with some of the bright new faces who have decided to attend American University to study business in the fall. I’m proud to report that our incoming freshman class is a very talented group. They’ve already accomplished a lot—and they’re excited to set foot on campus as full-fledged freshmen.
We’re also seeing strong interest in our new BS in Finance undergraduate program. The more technical, more mathematical nature of the program definitely appeals to a cadre of prospective students.
I believe one of the reasons these students are choosing to study business here at AU is that there is strong value in an education that includes a broad liberal arts background but also prepares them for the world of work. Our students recognize that a business degree is a good investment in their future.
And the job market for young graduates is also showing renewed strength. We see that nationally—with figures from the National Associate of Colleges and Employers. As a story on our website indicated, this is the second consecutive year in which employers have adjusted their hiring expectations upward, with 2012 hiring projections even higher than initial reports suggested.
We’re also seeing it “on the ground” here at Kogod. The full-time positions and summer internships that our students have lined up already are quite impressive—on both the undergraduate and graduate sides—and we know there is more good news to come.
For example, one of our graduating seniors, Brian Berry, will shortly be in Seattle at Amazon’s headquarters, where the company is hiring recent graduates for a retail management program. He’ll be doing vendor and inventory management and pricing strategies. Jessica Mouras, an accounting student, had her pick of firms and chose Ernst & Young, where she’ll start in October as a staff auditor after she sits for the CPA exam this summer.
There are plenty more examples, but I’ll be brief for now. You can learn about the rest as we cover them proudly on our website over the summer. Congratulations to Brian, Jessica, and all our soon-to-be graduates. I wish everyone best of luck and an excellent summer.
Last month marked the 40th anniversary of the premiere of The Godfather. It also marked the release of the new issue of our faculty research magazine, Kogod Now. What do they have in common, you wonder?
The answer: Family businesses. This time around, Kogod Now tackles corporate governance—an area of research interest for our faculty in many disciplines. The cover story, “Blood in Business,” even references the infamous movie as it explores the unique circumstances of family-founded firms.
Of course, The Godfather is fictional, but I think some of its lessons relate to our new publication.
For example, the notion that family comes first. In fact, through his groundbreaking research, Ron Anderson and his colleague proved that family firms are more valuable than their counterparts. His latest project revealed that corporate transparency is key to their success (bad news for the Coreleones).
Accountability is another common thread. In the article “The Risk Return Paradox,” we explore the relationship between CEO compensation and firms’ risks and returns. Parthiban David, Augustine Duru and Yijiang Zhao jointly researched the project. I was especially pleased to read about this collaborative work, done by faculty members in different academic departments.
We were also fortunate to have Barry Dewberry, MS ’82, contribute a column about his own flourishing family firm—and how difficult it was for him to enact a succession plan that went beyond the Dewberry family.
Of course, The Godfather himself probably wouldn’t relate to our investigation of the underrepresentation of women on corporate boards. Or Linda Fisher’s thoughtful column on the business case for sustainability at DuPont, where she serves as Chief Sustainability Officer. And forget about the finer points of regulation and auditors’ independence. But he might find our student’s exploration of Russian corporate raiding intriguing.
I hope you will turn the page, virtually, and read about some of the very fine work that Kogod faculty, students and alumni are up to in the new issue.
Spring break may be over, but here in D.C. the weather still feels like it’s on vacation. I’ve just returned from Los Angeles, where I spent a few days with 23 very impressive undergraduates on the Roads Scholars trip. It’s the second time our students have visited LA on this annual study tour.
There were several highlights for me. First, I stumbled upon a Bugatti Veyron (amid a throng of tourists) on Rodeo Drive—one of the world’s most powerful sports cars, with an equally impressive price tag. Personally, I would have picked another color scheme…
Speaking of million-dollar purchases, I also attended a site visit featuring the Altman Brothers’ real estate firm (Josh is on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing”). Kudos to Matthew Shukaitis, BSBA ’13, who helped set up the visit all the way from London, where he is studying abroad this semester. Matthew previously interned for another agent on the show.
Josh and Matt Altman are the epitome of entrepreneurs. The agents to the stars have racked up a jaw-dropping list of celebrity home sales, most in the multi-million range. Their advice to the students had as much chutzpah as they do. Though I personally wouldn’t advise to “fake it until you make it,” for them, the philosophy has paid off.
Dean Factor’s message was one I could more closely relate to: the importance of hard work to be successful. Dean (BSBA ’87 and former CEO of Smashbox Cosmetics) spoke at our alumni dinner at The Standard hotel. The students loved him. (He’s on the far right in the photo below).
The students were able to take in several other visits—including a behind-the-scenes tour of Dodgers stadium, which they raved about, the Getty Museum, and a trip to DisneyToon Studios. I want to say a final thanks to the Parks family for hosting the entire group at their beautiful home. I am always glad to see parents taking such an interest in our community. And, of course, I took the opportunity while visiting California again to connect with our alumni.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be visiting Boston and New York, and will meet with more alumni as well as some prospective students.
A happy Fat Tuesday to my readers.
It’s fitting that today is Mardi Gras; I have New Orleans on my mind. I’ve just returned from the AACSB dean’s conference, which was held there last week. It’s one of my favorite professional events, and an opportunity to really connect with my peers. The conference is only open to business school deans.
That it was held in New Orleans was a bonus. It was my first time back there since I spent a year volunteering in service of Tulane University after Hurricane Katrina. A huge transformation has taken place since I left in June 2007. The city—and Tulane itself—has really taken off. The disaster has led to substantive change that is easy to spot.
When I started at Tulane in July 2006, New Orleans was not an easy place to live, even in the mostly-spared Garden District. Finding an open grocery store was difficult. The streetcars didn’t run, as the tracks and overhead power lines remained damaged. Many buildings on the Tulane campus, which had largely been devoid of flooding, still showed signs of damage.
The city was struggling, and parents sensed it. Tulane had an average of 1,300 new freshmen each year before Katrina; the year I served, they were down to 800. That’s why I approached them and offered my help: I had the opportunity, and they had more problems than resources to solve them.
Out of adversity, Tulane’s leaders (including my former boss, University president Scott Cowen) took a proactive approach—not just to restoring the campus, but also to reinvigorating the student experience. For example, civic projects have become a central part of students’ education. Tulane has become one of the hottest schools in the U.S., and last year, it enrolled hundreds more freshmen than before the storm.
At the dean’s conference, I had a chance to reconnect with Scott, and to hear him speak about the importance of bringing that same proactive approach to the global issues facing higher education. He said that just as New Orleans rallied to recovery following the storm, we must confront the challenges in higher education.
During the conference, I thought about the greater impact business students have on our communities, whether they are in New Orleans or Washington, D.C. Tulane students’ dedication to serving their community reminded me of AU students—especially in light of this year’s Kogod Case Competition, where contestants battled to find the best solution for OPOWER, a local company that helps consumers use energy more efficiently.
I was inspired by the way the student body at Tulane became so involved in the recovery effort; the connection that they built to their city is admirable. The students have proven to be a relevant, important part of the solution, and their model is one that our students can emulate—it’s a natural extension of the service and commitment Kogod students already display.
I am privileged to have been a modest part of Tulane’s efforts, and I am delighted to see that New Orleans has come so far since my last visit.