GME: Today & Tomorrow Fall 2020/Winter 2021


Expanding Capacity Through Strategic Partnerships: The University of Kansas School of Business Story page 6

How Data Drives Decisions at George Mason

University School of Business

Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business: Sustainable Success in Silicon Valley

page 10

Texas A&M University Mays School of Business Leads the Way Through Times of Crisis page 20

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In This Issue FALL 2020 | WINTER 2021

The Power of Community I’m sure you’ll agree that the world has changed in previously inconceivable ways since we published the inaugural issue of GME: Today & Tomorrow at the end of 2019. I hope you’ll also agree that our original goal for this magazine — “to ensure that the best practices we’ve shared with each other don’t stay behind the closed doors of our board meetings” — is now even more important than it was then. While graduate management education (GME) still faces the same challenges that inspired us to collaborate in years past, we are currently in the midst of a period of existential transformation, unlike any other. Although we all work at different institutions and may tend to view each other as competitors, it is my firm belief that those of us in GME admissions and leadership must now adopt the mantra, “United we stand, divided we fall.”



Leadership Lessons: Sustainable Success in Silicon Valley Then & Now: Graduate Management Education

Focus on Differentiation: GME Leaders Discuss How to Stand Out in a Competitive Field Introducing: The MBA Roundtable Fast Track Curriculum Innovation Award

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That’s why we decided to make the theme of this issue, “the power of community.” Without working together to solve universal problems, support each other during difficult times and share best practices, we all run the risk of being left behind by the best-fit students we need to fill our classes and keep our institutions vital. I hope you enjoy reading the articles in this issue of GME: Today & Tomorrow . Among other things, you’ll learn how Texas A&M’s new “Re-Entry Guides” are helping leaders during times of crisis; how BusinessCAS TM helps build communities; and what applicants have to say about using Liaison’s Centralized Application Service (CAS™) for graduate management education programs. I also hope you join the BusinessCAS LinkedIn community. Along with, it’s the best place to keep in touch with your peers and stay up to date with the most important news and ideas across GME today. Finally, our editorial team is always eager to hear your feedback, as well as any suggestions you may have for future article topics. They can be reached at Thanks for reading!

Texas A&M “Re-Entry Guides” Help Leaders Support Their Institutions During Times of Crisis An Interview With Jay Bryant, Strategic Advisor for the Educational Testing Service (ETS): Standing the “Test” of Time Focus on Collaboration: GME Leaders Discuss Barriers and Opportunities Around Forming Beneficial Partnerships

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Redefining Strategy Using Partnerships to Expand Capacity


Doing More With Data: Strategies to Inform Strategic Decision-Making

BusinessCAS Facilitates Community When You Need It Most



Meet the BusinessCAS Board

Dr. Toby McChesney Senior Assistant Dean, Graduate Programs Santa Clara University Chair of the BusinessCAS Advisory Board







by Robert Ruiz Managing Director


As this issue of GME: Today & Tomorrow went to press, judges were in the process of reviewing finalists’ submissions for the first-ever MBA Roundtable Fast Track Curriculum Innovation Award. Winners of the award, which is an offshoot of the bi-annual MBA Roundtable Innovator Award that’s sponsored by BusinessCAS, are scheduled to be announced at the MBA Roundtable’s Annual Symposium in October. MBA Roundtable Executive Director Jeff Bieganek explains the inspiration behind the new MBA Roundtable Fast Track Curriculum Innovation Award, which required that submissions be in direct response to the coronavirus pandemic crisis: “The MBA Roundtable is a global association of business schools that’s been around for close to 25 years. “We really try to work with our schools to focus on updating, changing and innovating their curriculums to meet the needs of students and employers.” Innovative, quick changes “We started the MBA Roundtable Innovator Award in 2011, and we will give it out again in 2021. But people have been doing some really amazing things recently to pivot and meet the needs of students. We’re curious about what the long-term impact will be. It’s hard to predict. People are creating a lot of innovative quick changes, adaptations and responses to COVID-19 that are really interesting. We wanted something in direct response. Clearly, moving online is a quick pivot, but how did you do that in

a very unique way? Or how did you adapt your content, or how did you change your program to make this an important learning experience for your students. “As a result, our board decided to recognize the importance of this by creating the Fast Track Curriculum Innovation Award. It has three award categories: curriculum content, curriculum delivery and one for unique innovations, such as those that include both content and delivery.” “We just launched this award, and it’s been exciting. It’s global, so everybody who offers an MBA program can submit. We’ve been really pleased with the results so far. There are lessons here for everybody in all types of schools, from large public to small private, and from heavily resourced to more challenged with resources. It will be really interesting to see what stays and what goes, in terms of curriculum and content, in the next couple of years.” Helping others “We submitted the launch of our Impact Consulting Fellowship (ICF) to share an amazing opportunity for other MBA programs to launch as well,” said Nima Farshchi, Director, Center for Social Value Creation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. “ICF is a pro-bono consulting opportunity for MBA students to lead teams of two masters and three undergraduate students in supporting an impact-driven for- profit, b corp or non-profit over the course of the summer.” “We also created a handbook on launching a remote program like ICF for other business schools. Here at Smith, achieving

the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is something enrooted in our culture. We wanted to help other programs tackle the SDGs. Our submission shares our best practices with others who have a similar mission.” At Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business, the goal of submitting to the Fast Track Curriculum Innovation Award was to “put the lie to the idea that higher education and GME are unable to rapidly evolve,” said Associate Dean for Graduate Programs David G. Allen, Ph.D. “Our innovation was to rapidly design, develop, gain administrative approvals, market and launch a graduate degree option for pre-experience seniors graduating into a global pandemic and economic recession — a new one-year MS in Business Analytics. We went from idea to more than 50 students in class in less than 12 weeks with no marketing spend. Moving at the speed of business and innovating in the face of challenges are extremely important for GME.” “I think the Roundtable is an amazing resource hub for the GME industry,” said Bieganek. “We’re a small virtual organization that tries to deliver big benefits to our members and the overall GME community. We’re here to partner with everybody to make sure that the curriculum — co-curricular and curricular — is the best it can be for the students.” Winners of the inaugural Fast Track Curriculum Innovation Award will be announced following the MBA Roundtable’s Annual Symposium, which takes place virtually on October 29th and 30th.

Focus on Differentiation: GME Leaders Discuss How to Stand Out in a Competitive Field In the intensely competitive world of graduate management education, a school’s ability to stand out from its peers is critical for attracting the best students. But how do you differentiate your programs in any kind of meaningful way when every competitor is offering a similar product? BusinessCAS convened a focus group of some of the field’s top program leaders to learn more about how they structure their programs, engage potential students and strategize for the future. Participants discussed a wide variety of topics facing higher-ed institutions today and shared their best practices and successes with one another. They also described how and why they are: ` Investing in the top of the funnel to get students on the right track from the beginning. ` Addressing the rapidly increasing specialization occurring in higher education today. ` Meeting the moment and responding to powerful social trends.

Liaison has incorporated the highlights of this important focus group discussion into a new white paper, Focus on Differentiation: GME Leaders Discuss How to Stand Out in a Competitive Field.

Read the full paper and reserve your seat for our next focus group.







Dee Steinle, Executive Director of MBA and MSB Programs at the University of Kansas (KU) School of Business, faced a common managerial challenge. She was asked to walk the proverbial tightrope — grow enrollment without additional resources. In the highly competitive marketplace for GME, overall enrollment has been fairly static, while the number of offerings has dramatically increased. Enrolling a class of MBA students who have the chance to improve rankings has become so competitive, in fact, that some schools have started offering their degrees at zero cost to attract top students. Steinle needed to determine how to grow enrollment in a rapidly changing environment and do so without any additional resources.

REDEFINING STRATEGY Using Partnerships to Expand Capacity


About 30 minutes away from downtown Kansas City, the School of Business at the University of Kansas (KU) sits on an idyllic campus with historic red-roofed buildings reminiscent of a medieval European village. KU is a public R1 university — a classification of the Carnegie Foundation that ranks KU as an institution with the highest possible research activity — with a total enrollment of around 20,000 students. The School of Business has a more modest enrollment of fewer than 800 graduate students , and it takes great pride in the strong community fostered by a smaller program.

As she was walking to her office on the last day of final exams for Q1 one fall afternoon, a student approached Dee Steinle, Executive Director of MBA and MSB Programs at the University of Kansas (KU) School of Business, and said, “I’m making an app like Tinder, but exclusively for paleontologists; I’m calling it ‘Carbon Dating.’” Steinle found herself still laughing as she sat down at her desk moments later. It’s not uncommon for students to form quick relationships with Steinle. With an optimism that takes the form of an easy smile and the patience of a monk, Steinle often tells students that she would have been a paleontologist if she weren’t a dean. “Carbon dating,” Steinle chuckled as she logged onto her computer to a strategic planning template she was completing. Widely seen as an enrollment Jedi, Steinle was spending a lot of time finessing the phrasing in her “Enrollment Goals” section. Of course, enrollment targets are growth targets, but Steinle knew enrollment would be more of a challenge that year because she had to confront the perennial problem of doing more with less. Without significant resources available in time or staffing, she needed to find a way to meet the growth goals that the school increasingly relied upon to support their innovation and community building efforts. For almost 100 years, the School of Business at KU has been offering graduate management education (GME) that emphasizes practical application and exposure to leading researchers. Today, the School of Business offers a balanced portfolio of programs with a multi-platform MBA and four MS degrees. Cohorts are kept small to focus intensively on the classroom and case method dynamics, and in the School’s well-regarded FTMBA

Dee Steinle discusses navigating post-pandemic campus life with her admissions team.


In the context of graduate management education (GME), most partnerships come in a few different varieties: ACADEMIC/UNIVERSITY: These types of partnerships include accelerated degree programs like 3+1, STEM-based programs that lead to OPT extensions and other exchange-type arrangements that involve two or more schools/colleges. OPERATIONAL: These partnerships focus on functions that can be “outsourced” without losing brand control, including accounting, finance, applications, document logistics, study abroad, clubs and organizations, feedback solicitation and a whole host of activities that can be completed at a lower cost, with less disruption, less effort and at a same-or- better quality than the school or unit can. AFFILIATION: These types of partnerships focus on specific interests/identities and specialized areas of the industry; groups like the large and well-known GMAC and AACSB are augmented by a vast network of slightly-smaller groups like The Consortium, the Forte Foundation, Pro Hispanica, the MBA Roundtable and the EMBA Council, to name a few.

Given the seemingly endless demands on their time, how can leaders do more than manage what’s immediately in front of them? Where can leaders build in the time to innovate, to develop new solutions or simply to improve processes? As management wizard Peter Drucker suggested almost 50 years ago, organizations should not require superhumans to run them, so the solution is likely not the development of new mutant powers. Effective, strategic partnerships can, however, give leaders something that might make them feel like a superhero: the additional bandwidth to build relationships with applicants through value-added engagements and the data and analysis tools that help to build stronger classes.





Further, BusinessCAS provides additional channels for lead generation, broadening the top of the funnel without any new marketing costs, which was key to Steinle’s enrollment growth under budget constraints. Ultimately, BusinessCAS also helped to improve the quality of the class by providing Steinle with the data and analysis tools to not just find great students but to find more great students. BusinessCAS, it turns out, is not only a solution for many enrollment challenges — traditional and current — but also a community, one where leaders like Steinle come together to share best practices and work together to solve common problems. By seeking out innovative partners who understood the unique challenges of her institution, Steinle found a way to not only improve and stabilize her enrollment but also to buck the current industry trend where many schools have a highly volatile enrollment outlook.

Redefining Strategy: Using Partnerships to Expand Capacity continued from previous page

program, students and grads alike consistently give the school high marks across all of the rankings surveys. At KU, enrollment in the FTMBA program has long been targeted to a class size of 40, but like many schools in the late 2010s, enrollment in the FTMBA program has become increasingly harder to predict. High competition among schools for applicants with rankings- and employment-friendly profiles has long been de rigueur for MBA programs, but the rise in quality and number of international competitors, a complex and sometimes challenging U.S. student immigration system and a dramatic shift in program cost dynamics paired with escalating scholarship competition has had a chilling effect on the FTMBA enrollment at the majority of schools. KU was certainly not immune to these challenges, and as such, the year-over-year application-to-enrollment yield at most schools was a tense roller coaster for leaders like Steinle. Ultimately, Steinle needed to forge new partnerships to tackle these enrollment challenges. A natural mentor and connector, Steinle has a widely- acknowledged talent for leading her team by example and producing consistent positive results. Her excellence as a leader has afforded her the opportunity to contribute to the broader GME field through leadership service with some of the most important organizations in the field, such as GMAC. In one of these industry positions, Steinle was part of a committee that evaluated the concept of a centralized application tool. Years after this committee service concluded, a colleague who served with her introduced her to the leading Centralized Application Service (CAS™) for GME, BusinessCAS™. Steinle led KU to adopt the BusinessCAS solution for the 2019 cycle, and results took shape quickly. With BusinessCAS filling the gaps in recruitment, KU’s graduate business programs went from an application-to-enrollment yield that slipped to 40% in 2018 to a yield of 70% in 2020, a remarkable increase. During the same period, the program went from enrolling as few as 25 students in 2018 to an expanded cohort of 45 in 2020.

A partnership with BusinessCAS translated into a no- cost solution to Steinle’s enrollment challenges, and when asked to reflect on her success, Dee observed, “Because of BusinessCAS and some strategic partnerships, we are getting better quality applications. It is not about more applications, but better applicants.” Explaining how she has approached enrollment planning in the current environment, she noted, “BusinessCAS has been part of [our] strategy” to adjust for the disruption of international applicants this year by finding new pipelines for domestic students. In an environment where relationships drive enrollment, leaders are often frustrated that admissions staff sometimes spend the majority of their days managing applications. By comprehensively managing the application process through BusinessCAS, Steinle’s admissions team can focus on building relationships with applicants and finding the value-added engagements that help to build a strong class. Because of BusinessCAS and some strategic partnerships, we are getting better quality applications. It is not about more applications, but better applicants.”

With BusinessCAS filling the gaps in recruitment, KU’s graduate business programs went from an application- to-enrollment yield that slipped to 40% in 2018 to a yield of 70% in 2020 , a remarkable increase. During the same period, the program went from enrolling as few as 25 students in 2018 to an expanded cohort of 45 in 2020 .

What will you achieve with the BusinessCAS Community behind you?

Robert Ruiz Managing Director, BusinessCAS 617.612.2087 Connect with me

Stephen Taylor Research Director, BusinessCAS 530.524.1506 Connect with me





Consider your narrative Of the many skills required of leaders in graduate management education (GME), storytelling is chief among the most important. With questions determined and a working version of a data set produced, the big challenge is to interpret the data and use it to tell the story of your situation. “With the high degree of focus that faculty bring to any conversation, supporting our strategy with data has been transformational — especially in our ability to build consensus and get everyone on the same page,” Buchy explained when asked about the importance of a data-rich narrative. She continued, “part of my job is to make sure our Dean has everything necessary to talk at the university level about our current position and advocate for the School; having practical tools that leaders can use to explain what we’re doing is one of the big keys to our success this year.” Speaking to a group of marketing and IT executives a few years ago, IBM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty famously said, “Big Data will spell the death of customer segmentation and force the marketer to understand each customer as an individual within 18 months or risk being left in the dust.” 1 As universities look toward an already-uncertain future compounded by the pandemic, social justice concerns and domestic political instability, honing the ability to support the narrative of their utility is perhaps more critical now than ever. As Buchy and Connor point out, developing a set of data to support requests and strategic plans can be done fairly easily. Work with stakeholders to find out the right questions, aim to create workable models by not allowing “perfect to be the enemy of the good” and take the time to understand what your data tells you — these are the first steps on your school’s journey toward being more data-driven in planning and decision-making.

There are calls for business schools to expand their programs’ role in training leaders who will make the world a more just and equitable place. And in light of the ongoing-and-without-a-clear- end pandemic, there are calls for business schools to justify their tuition, their on/”off campus” decisions and their curriculum. In this environment, Buchy and Connor kicked off a set of projects that would help them weather the storm of 2020 by giving granular insights into how each program’s enrollment pipeline was performing. By using existing data sources, starting with the well-known Excel to trial-and-error refine how questions are structured, and by working together to figure out what the data was telling them, they jumped into the Big Data pool with both feet to great success. As we wrapped our conversation, I asked them to share their top three recommendations for others who may be getting started in using Big Data more effectively. TopThree Recommendations Start with questions There is a lot of “buzz word” conversation around the notion of Big Data, or data-driven decision making, but putting data to good use doesn’t start with tech or committees, according to the panelists: It starts with questions. “We knew what questions we wanted to ask, what questions our key stakeholders want answers to,” said Buchy, adding, “And we worked closely with our leadership to make sure we were asking the right questions.” Connor elaborated, “If you don’t know what questions you’re trying to answer, there’s no way to be sure you have the right data, the right views.” Make utility a priority “Data analysis” as a term itself can be intimidating to those who don’t have experience with the extraction, transformation and application of data from large sources. How can a team start to approach the conversation about infusing your planning with support from data? “It’s going to be different for every context,” answers Connor, “but you don’t need to be a programmer in R or Python, you don’t need a complex analytics stack, you need something that’s usable.” The team suggests starting simple with tools like Microsoft Word and Excel to get a sense of how the data fits together.

Doing More With Data: Strategies to Inform Strategic Decision-Making

by Stephen Taylor Research Director

It may seem that the now-ubiquitous term “Big Data” has only recently become enmeshed in our working vocabulary, but according to Google’s Ngram Viewer 2 , the phrase has been in use since the mid-1990s. Despite its prevalence, most of us would struggle to define precisely what Big Data is. Popular working definitions include the notion of capturing information related to the many interactions an organization has with a stakeholder, but few definitions talk about how to start using Big Data or even what it can do. 3 Universities collect large amounts of data about their communities, and the higher education sector urgently needs to make use of new data analysis tools to recover from the disruptions of the pandemic. Yet, few universities have the decentralized resources necessary to get individual units to leverage their large data sets to ask questions about how best to prepare for the future. At George Mason University (GMU), an innovative duo has managed to overcome the core challenge of using Big Data — getting clear data sets to context experts who can put them to use — and their success reveals how the right analytics can serve as the Rosetta Stone that renders data more comprehensible.

A public research institution in Virginia, GMU is host to almost 40,000 students and offers bachelor through doctoral degrees. With multiple campuses, including one in South Korea, GMU is known for its engineering and business academics. The School of Business itself enrolls almost 5,000 students, with about 4,000 undergraduates. The graduate programs are consistently recognized for their high quality and high return on investment and are annually listed in the Top 50 and Top 100 U.S. News & World Report rankings. The GMU School of Business has a reputation for outstanding programs in the highly competitive Washington DC metro area. I recently sat down with Senior Assistant Dean of Graduate Enrollment Jackie Buchy and Assistant Director of Enrollment and Analytics Kevin Connor to hear their reflections about the way that getting deeper into their data transformed their enrollment. While 2020 has thrown everything imaginable at higher ed this year, admissions officers may have been under more stress than just about anyone else on campus. To set the stage on how the team used data analysis, generally, the conversation turned toward the complexity of needing to have data to justify requests and support the telling of a story. Research by groups like EDUCAUSE shows that while most school leaders recognize the growing importance of data analytics, far fewer are able to devote the needed resources to developing some skill in this area. 4 And, lest we forget that the year is 2020, we also talked through the complexity of communicating enrollment to all stakeholders.

Be the first to hear when a new issue launches.


1 Rometty, Ginni, Keynote Address. CMO+CIO Leadership Symposium, Sydney AUS, February 11, 2013. 2 Google Ngram Analysis. Accessed October 11, 2020. 3 Oracle. “What is Big Data,” Accessed October 11, 2020. 4 Educause, Analytics in Higher Education: Benefits, Barriers, Progress, and Recommendations.





BusinessCAS Facilitates Community When You Need It Most

Meet the BusinessCAS Board

When T. S. Eliot said about difficult times, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”, I don’t think he could have imagined the kind of disruption we have all experienced this year. And while graduate management education (GME) may be in for a roller coaster year, the BusinessCAS team is fortunate to have an exceptionally talented advisory board to help us provide the ship-steadying counsel you’ve come to expect. In this regularly occurring feature, we’ll get to know the members of our board, and this week we’ll put the spotlight on board member Kate Klepper.

by Robert Ruiz Managing Director


A lot has changed since the previous issue of GME: Today & Tomorrow was published — both in the world of higher ed admissions at large and within the BusinessCAS Community. One fact remains unchanged, however: It’s always easier to achieve important goals when you’re working with like-minded peers who share the same priorities, challenges and passion — especially during times of crisis. BusinessCAS, the Centralized Application Service (CAS) for graduate management programs, makes that possible by facilitating new collaborations that drive mutual success for all participating schools and applicants. As the pandemic unfolds, BusinessCAS is more focused than ever on creating a community that allows your programs to thrive. As a member of that community, you’ll gain new insights into best practices shared by your admissions peers from other innovative institutions as well as the highly experienced technology and marketing professionals at Liaison. For example, BusinessCAS has begun convening a series of focus groups dedicated to enhancing the GME admissions experience for everyone, from applicants to institution leadership. When you’re on the Focus Groups site, be sure to explore the other resources available there, including the new white paper based on one of our recent focus groups, Focus on Differentiation: GME Leaders Discuss How to Stand Out in a Competitive Field. We also encourage you to join the vibrant GME Today & Tomorrow moderated discussion group on LinkedIn. It’s another great way to stay on top of the most recent news and important developments in higher ed admissions and marketing. On top of all that, the entire BusinessCAS team works constantly to leverage the collective strength of our experience and insights into this important shared community. As a result, we’re able to provide an incredible amount of information that helps you make better and more well-informed decisions, including (but not limited to) articles, magazines, blog posts, timely data on marketing and enrollment trends and updates on global economic developments and domestic policy change. The connections BusinessCAS members make create an indispensable network of colleagues who know exactly what challenges and opportunities you face every day — and how to address them in the most effective way possible.

Known as much for her quick wit as her thoughtful questions, Kate Klepper has served as Associate Dean for Graduate Programs since 2005 for the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University in Boston. Of course, you may also know Kate as a member (and Vice-Chair) of the GMAC Board of Directors, of the MBA Roundtable, the Washington Campus or as the only person you’ve probably ever met who has never tried coffee. Ever. Easy to get to know, quick with questions and eager to share what has worked — and hasn’t — for her, Kate’s support has mentored new leaders, her service has advanced the standing of GME and her dedication has helped to build D’Amore-McKim into the echelon of excellence it now occupies. If you’re looking to start a conversation with Kate, you might ask her about the most recent book she read ( Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano) or where to shop in London. Kate’s contributions to GME are many and diverse, as she has served not only in key leadership roles, but she’s the person in your conference presentation audience who asks a leading question to help you build the discussion or the presenter who reads the room and figures out how to transition from idea to action. Kate has deep expertise in admissions, having served as Dean of admissions at Babson before she joined Northeastern, which might explain her easy laugh. Who is Kate in a song? According to Kate, her stadium walkout music would be Brave by Sara Bareilles, which makes total sense. Brave is a song about the power of speaking out and owning your unique voice because when you do, it inspires others to do the same. It’s a great metaphor for who Kate is, really: an encouraging mentor, a unique voice that deserves to be heard and it’s popular for good reason.

Kate Klepper Associate Dean for Graduate Programs

Our Leadership Team

Toby McChesney, Ed.D. Senior Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs

Dee Steinle Executive Director of MBA and MS Programs

Advisory Board Chair

Advisory Board Vice-Chair

Robert Ruiz Managing Director Connect with me

Stephen Taylor Research Director Connect with me

To learn more, visit .








year. And in the very competitive part-time MBA ranking, Dr. McChesney has presided over a rise to 25th in the nation, a critical ranking threshold that traditionally serves as a catalyst for lead growth. The students at the Leavey School are highly engaged, serving as ambassadors to prospective students and mentors to first-year students; even the MBA alumni group has been revitalized by the energy and impact of Dr. McChesney’s leadership, and they now meet regularly to find ways to support the school. Most impressively, perhaps, Dr. McChesney’s leadership drove significant growth throughout the enrollment pipeline during an exceptionally turbulent period of time. Commenting on the contributing factors to this success in a September 2020 interview, Dr. McChesney explained, “That momentum [from joining the BusinessCAS™ Community] resulted in a 50% increase in applications, a 63% increase in admits and a 51% increase in deposits for Fall 2020.” Although he has recently been spotlighted for his annus mirabilis at SCU, Dr. McChesney’s career has been one defined by lasting process improvements and a legacy of genuine care and concern for students. Leaders like Dr. McChesney can seem almost preternaturally gifted at holding leadership roles of exceptional complexity and visibility, indeed, thriving during times of crisis. How does he do it? Located in the heart of innovation, Silicon Valley, all of the top-ranked programs at the Leavey School of Business provide rigorous study and high impact experiential learning, culminating in rock-solid business acumen. Plus, the University’s Jesuit Catholic tradition imbues all students with unshakable ethics and a commitment to social responsibility. This combination makes Leavey the perfect place to nurture the next generation of business leadership.

More broadly, how can Dr. McChesney’s success be applicable to others in this kind of role? How do leaders figure out what is critical and what can wait? And most importantly, perhaps, how can leaders and their organizations thrive in this kind of environment? To paint the academic discipline of leadership studies with an exceptionally broad brush, traditional leadership theories describe effectiveness in a process-oriented way; in other words, do a specific set of things in a specific environment, and leadership effectiveness has been achieved. The exceptionally diverse leadership consulting industry, a great deal of trade press and pop obsession with leaders like Elon Musk all tend to support the notion that contemporary leadership thinking emphasizes the leader as the core of a culture, as the creator of an environment in which goals are achieved. But this difference among researchers does not constrain the ability to evaluate exemplary leadership through some of the more pragmatic lenses of leadership theory. Two frameworks that we can use to gain insight into how leaders in GME can succeed are Situational Leadership and Contingency Theory of Leadership. Situational Leadership is a theory developed to suggest there is no singular “right” way to lead a team or an organization, but rather that effective leadership results from a positive match of a leadership style to a situation. 3 The two key variables used in the model are leadership style and team/situation maturity levels. Efficacy in leadership happens when a leader adapts their style through the framework of the task/function to the situation and team ability level. Leadership style is explicated to show the dynamic between the task versus relationship spectrum of a leader, and situation maturity levels are detailed to show the task-bound nature of team maturity. The theory is inherently attractive, as it gets to a natural sense of how leaders work to meet each situation based on context, but the model has been broadly critiqued. The model completely excludes how demographic factors or interpersonal team dynamics might influence each situation. 4 Contingency Theory of Leadership also holds that there is no perfect way to lead a team or organization but attempts to broaden the work of previous models by including more variables. Researchers who have extended the ideas of this theory hold that “effective leadership is about striking the right balance between needs, context and behavior.” 2 A successful leader, they hold, has the “ability to assess the needs of their followers, analyze the situation at hand and act accordingly.” 2 This theory naturally fits with how many see leadership because it allows for flexibility and matching between all variables, but it has been the subject of many of the same critiques of previous models.

Leadership Lessons: Sustainable Success in Silicon Valley

Okay, the BusinessCAS board meeting isn’t until noon; I have a meeting in the Provost’s office at 2:00 before our meeting with the business analytics students. That means I have time to get that AACSB conference presentation finished up before the alumni meeting tonight, perfect , he thought as he closed his planner and stood up from his desk. To those who work with Toby McChesney, Ed.D., this whirlwind of activity is not new; they know he’s always on the move. Currently serving the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University (SCU), he wears so many leadership hats that even his formal title is busy: Senior Assistant Dean of Graduate Business Programs, Special Assistant to the Provost, Adjunct Faculty. In addition to his many responsibilities for SCU, Dr. McChesney serves in leadership roles for at least three key industry associations at any given time, is a sought-after speaker and presenter for conferences across a broad range of topics and is regularly interviewed by a diversity of media outlets for his insights into how higher education and Graduate Management Education (GME) are changing. Over the past few weeks, Dr. McChesney has been the subject of online conversation and news stories about his success this year. And with just a cursory look at his achievements this year – just four years into his tenure at SCU — it’s no surprise that Dr. McChesney is so busy. This year’s performance in the increasingly competitive U.S. News & World Report Best Business Schools ranking resulted in a two-place rise year-over-year to a rank of 11 for Leavey’s EMBA program, which was ranked for the first time ever last


In the highly competitive marketplace for graduate management education (GME), the San Francisco Bay Area may very well be the center of the universe. More than a dozen colleges offer MBA or MS programs to students attracted by the big brands and even bigger opportunities offered by Silicon Valley and even renowned East Coast schools like the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Babson University’s Olin School have opened campuses in the area. In this kind of environment, leading a graduate business unit can be exceptionally challenging, especially when the already pressurized goals of rankings, revenue and reputation are constantly competing for priority with the persistent market disruptions of 2020. How can someone be successful in this kind of role? How do leaders figure out what is critical — and what can wait? And most importantly, perhaps, how can leaders and their organizations thrive in this kind of environment? While there may be no perfect answer to these questions, the application of the common leadership frameworks, Situational Leadership and Contingency Theory of Leadership, to this situation yield key insights into how leaders in GME can succeed.





Leadership Lessons: Sustainable Success in Silicon Valley continued from previous page

At the still point, there the dance is. —T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Key Leadership Theory Overview Situational Leadership: This theory suggests that effective leadership requires alignment between the style/approach of a leader and the situation at hand. The model focuses on the interaction between two key variables, the task/function/role of the leader and the capacity — called “maturity” in many of the initial writings — of the team or organization. Contingency Theory: This theory, of which Situational Leadership is a variety, holds that there is no singular “right” way to lead; instead, effective leadership is contingent on the balance between community/stakeholder needs, situational context and the behavior of the leader and team. Contingency theories have a “natural match” feeling, as it fits with much of observed experience in which a leader attempts to match their style to the situation. Transformational Leadership: In this theory, a leader’s role is to work closely enough with their teams to understand their challenges and identify needed changes. Once those changes are identified, the leader is responsible for creating a vision for the needed changes that motivates the necessary resources to achieve a goal. This theory is sometimes called Inspirational Leadership, as it relies heavily upon a leader with the ability to provide motivation and meaning, challenge a team to perform beyond previous benchmarks and use power effectively to motivate. Charismatic Leadership: In this trait-based theory of leadership, the focus is on the leader’s ability to deploy charisma to motivate a team toward a goal. It requires leaders to completely integrate their person and their profession in a way that can put too much pressure on the leader. These leaders often emerge in times of crisis or disruption, and as a result, much of the scholarship in this area is understandably ambiguous when dealing with the “how” of charismatic leadership success.

Using the Contingency framework described above, we can think through Dr. McChesney’s success in three categories: Assess the needs of the community Unit staff, current students, alumni, faculty members, college leadership, business/community partners, prospective students, industry associations and an entire litany of groups with specialized interests in the School are represented here. In GME, this area requires the ability to establish relationships with/between these groups, determine shared interests and conflicts, understand how their needs overlap and create a path for all to contribute time and energy to shared goals. Analyze and interpret details and context Competitors, micro-market understanding, macro-market insight, media reports, anecdotal feedback, conference topics and every other imaginable data source are in this category. It includes the dozen-plus competitors within a 50-mile radius of Leavey, all of whom are exceptionally focused on capturing the attention and enrollment of high performing future executives of Silicon Valley. In GME, this area requires high ability in executive function, information acquisition speed and the ability to find and connect seemingly disparate data. Act based on intersection of needs, goals and context Knowing the needs of stakeholders and understanding the context of a situation are necessary but not sufficient criteria for effective leadership in any view, and so this element of the model suggests the ability to motivate work completion toward a goal. Involved in that endeavor for leaders in GME is a leader’s ability to create and maintain a positive culture, to communicate clearly and candidly and to coalesce information into a compelling narrative that executives and subordinates support. Dr. McChesney was able to effectively assess the needs of his stakeholder community by strategically planning his time. Among many activities, he speaks regularly with student and faculty leadership, has planned meetings with alumni associations and makes transparency the hallmark of his communication. He has built a strong foundation of trust and confidence with these groups, which has led to their willingness to share real concerns and exert true effort to help. Understanding the context of the current environment can be difficult, but Dr. McChesney’s role in GME allows him to get anecdotal information and trends from the many organizations and schools he serves in volunteer oversight capacities.

His board service, his outstanding relationships with stakeholders on and off-campus and his outstanding faculty for reading industry news have all worked together to give Dr. McChesney a deep understanding of what is happening and why. Finally, Dr. McChesney created a clear path for action that leads to success. The alumni, faculty, staff and leadership groups – as well as the stakeholder community at large – have a strong understanding of how they work with Dr.McChesney to achieve goals. The industry associations where Toby serves are able to provide broader industry context to his detailed understanding of his Silicon Valley context. But his ability to act on these is the crux of his success. For example, Dr. McChesney used his understanding of where the industry was going and joined BusinessCAS, a platform that supports enrollment growth and a community that drives industry best practices. He has been able to effectively tell the story of his programs, his school, his industry and the role of GME in making the world a better place. To use Situational Leadership principles here would give us, perhaps, a chance to analyze Dr. McChesney’s leadership style. The operational pieces of Dr. McChesney’s success include key partnerships, direct communication, tireless effort, kind management and clear vision. And while scholars may have imagined style as something different, there is strong evidence that Dr. McChesney’s transparent approach to communication, willingness to work hard and authentic kindness underpins his overall performance as a leader. One might go so far as to call this a leadership style, but without the formal academic meaning of style intended by the Situational Leadership school. In what is perhaps Eliot’s most underappreciated and overquoted writing, “Four Quartets”, readers are confronted by moments of prose like this, providing a moving window into the way that time and perspective shape our experience. Finding the “still point” in a professional sense can be exceptionally difficult. There are demands on time and energy from all angles, and there are significant consequences for every decision and every delay. Indeed, “the dance” of leadership is in finding balance among these competing priorities and limited resources. Eliot allows the metaphor to extend beautifully, “neither from nor towards…

neither movement from nor towards…neither ascent nor decline… [without] the still point, there would be no dance…” Achieving balance in a traditionally challenging role during a very turbulent time can feel impossible at times, but without seeking that balance there is no “dance,” no success to be found. Leaders like Dr. McChesney have relied on exceptional talent, natural ability, consistent self-improvement and hard work to drive success, and they make it look easy. But by applying the most pragmatic elements of traditional and contemporary leadership frameworks, it becomes clear that the “still point of the turning world” can be attained by any leader.


Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets. NY: HBJ, 1943._____. Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot. Ed. Frank Kermode. NY: Harcourt Brace, (1975). Fielder, F. E. (1964). A theory of leadership effectiveness. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. New York: Academic Press. 2 Gill, R. (2011). Theory and practice of leadership. London: SAGE Publications. 3 Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. (1969). An introduction to situational leadership. Training and Development Journal, 23, 26–34. 4 Hodgson, P. V. , & White, R. P. (2003). Leadership, learning, ambiguity, and uncertainty and their significance to dynamic organizations In Peterson, R. S. , & Mannix, E. A. (Eds.), Leading and managing people in the dynamic organization. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. House, R. J. (1996). Path–goal theory of leadership: Lessons, legacy, and a reformulated theory. Leadership Quarterly, 7, 323–352.





Then & Now: Graduate Management Education

FDR was elected in 1932 on the promise of the New Deal, which

the same time as HBE’s completion, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) took a big step forward by formally announcing the sanctioning of five specific types of collegiate business programs. The same period is also marked as one in which new agencies regulated major elements of the economy and eliminated monopolistic business practices. HBE’s description of formalizing institutions, then, was part of a growing aspirational trend in thinking at the time: By formalizing and organizing, institutions can solve large societal problems. The associations and institutions that arose from the complexity of that historical period set virtually all expectations for students, faculty, administrators and even the general public and continue to support the GME enterprise through responsive and comprehensive policy, process and advice. Jackson’s final phase, in which business education is embedded “in many types of schools, and the private business school has had to compete for its place in the educational [marketplace]” has persisted for almost 100 years, but it’s safe to say that a new chapter is beginning in the history of GME. As we work our way through a pandemic that has strained the global economy and the deep social and cultural unrest that has fractured communities across the nation, we find ourselves at a moment that parallels the tumultuous 1930s in which Jackson assessed the past and present state of business education.

Just as Jackson triumphantly declared business education had earned its maturity, it would be tempting to uphold the status quo by clinging to the traditional organizations and approaches that have sustained GME for so many years. However, the vast complexities of the present moment and beyond contain new opportunities, particularly if we consider GME as an unfinished enterprise ripe for potential reinvigoration and disruption. The world needs good leaders now more than ever. Our current context is the exemplar of the “VUCA world” (i.e., volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) for which GME trains leaders; how will our institutions evolve to meet the challenge? What associations, partnerships and collaborations will arise to support the innovation schools will need to train the leaders who will shape our future? Certainly, the answers will not lie in referring to the same organizations and practices that have guided and perhaps constrained business education since at least the 1930s. As Socrates is oft-quoted, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” So before you go running to your College of Education to find master’s theses that might give you a glimpse of the future, remember that it is up to us to build it.

by Stephen Taylor Research Director

redefined Hoover’s notion of American self-reliance by expanding social safety nets and creating institutions focused on national improvement projects like the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Authority and the Social Security Administration. We can imagine our author witnessing the cusp of positive change wrought by New Deal institutions and extending that sense of “improvement through institutions” to business education. We can understand why Jackson felt that business education had “arrived” in some sense, as the proposed evolution of business education was a reflection of the idealism of reform and recovery at the time. But we should also consider how the prevailing zeitgeist of improvement through institutions shaped business education. Around


I n this regular feature, we’ll review historical publications of enduring relevance to graduate management education. In this issue, we examine the introductory section of Harry Jackson’s 1933 thesis. A History of Business Education in the United States (HBE). Jackson’s master’s thesis is still referenced on the University of Southern California’s School of Education website as an exemplar of theses from this time period, and exegesis of one brief section that discusses the status and role of business education will shed light on ways that we can prepare our students and our schools for the coming challenges.

Jackson outlines the origin and evolution of business education in the U.S., beginning perhaps surprisingly with Plymouth Plantation in 1635. One of the standout elements of this section is Jackson’s notion of the progressive developmental stages of business education: Jackson presents a model of a structured, phase- to-phase history of business education, then asserts that business schools have reached an acceptance echelon, that business education has “arrived.” Core to this argument is the assumption that through better organization and standardized practices, institutions advance and improve society. Here, the historical context is key. In the early 1930s, the U.S. was in the midst of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.




GME: TODAY & TOMORROW | FALL 2020/WINTER 2021 : T & T | F 2020/ I 2021

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