March 12, 2007
Dear Yale SOM graduates:
A great deal has happened since I last wrote. We completed the first term of SOM’s new MBA curriculum. I traveled to China, South Africa, Tanzania, and Tampa, among other exotic locations. The school witnessed several significant arrivals, and the announcement of one significant departure, which I will relate at the end of this note.
SOM’s new curriculum is continuing its very successful first year of implementation. We have completed one full term, and we are just coming up on the conclusion of the second phase of the Organizational Perspectives courses. In this second phase, we focused on the internal perspectives: the Employee, the Innovator, the Operations Engine, and the Sourcing and Managing Funds (or CFO) Perspectives. When the first-year students return from Spring Break, they will devote themselves to the last segment of the new core, a segment called the Integrated Leadership Perspective; in which they consider a series of rich problem-solving cases, structured by scale.
When the faculty approved this new curriculum, I was pleased to be able to report that the vote in favor was unanimous. I am now pleased to be able to report that the same level of enthusiasm for the curriculum cuts across faculty, staff, and students.
To be sure, any undertaking of this magnitude will certainly reveal opportunities for change and improvement, but the energy and optimism has been tremendous. In addition to all of the new courses, we have completed a truly astonishing 20 new Yale SOM cases characterized by the same distinctive multidisciplinary focus that is the hallmark of the new curriculum.
One of the defining elements of the curriculum continues to be the connections across courses — connections that facilitate an integrated understanding of management challenges and opportunities. For example, prior to the beginning of the course itself, the Innovator Perspective instructors, Jonathan Feinstein and Barry Nalebuff, gave all students an assignment to be completed during the International Experience trip. Read the assisgnment and a sampling of the results on our curriculum website.
Recruiter feedback has been positive, as well. One recruiter remarked (without any prompting from me) how our students — both first and second years — appear “multifaceted.” Another commented on the poise and confidence that students demonstrated in interviews when they described their International Experience trips.
The eight International Experience trips that our first-year students (along with faculty leaders and second-year TAs) took at the beginning of January — to Argentina, China, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Singapore, London and Warsaw, and South Africa and Tanzania — have been recognized by virtually all of the participants as unique and valuable experiences that have contributed to both professional knowledge and personal growth. Along with Professor Jim Baron, I led the trip to South Africa and Tanzania, and can attest to the inspiring nature of our meetings, not only with government and business leaders and entrepreneurs, but also in AIDs orphanages and social welfare organizations such as the Women’s Dignity Project in Dar es Salaam (run by Maggie Bangser '87).
Beyond the individual and group learnings, the International Experience garnered more positive press for the school, as well, in the form of an Associated Press newswire story that was picked up by over 200 news outlets — newspapers, websites, blogs, and broadcasts — all over the world. Even Carl Kassel of NPR’s “Morning Edition” featured the Yale School of Management’s innovative MBA curriculum in one of his morning newscasts. This positive press has created even more public buzz about the school and its programs and contributed much to the school’s continued momentum.
Before I ventured to Africa in January, I had a wonderful visit with SOM alumni in China in December. It was gratifying to see so many of our graduates working on important and significant projects in Shanghai and Beijing. I am looking forward to my next trip to East Asia in May, this time to Japan and Korea. In addition, in the next few months I will be traveling to a number of cities in the U.S. to meet with Yale and SOM alumni.
I also have several trips planned to present the new Yale MBA curriculum to professional gatherings of business educators. In January, I was a featured speaker at the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s Deans and Directors conference. I will be delivering a plenary session to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’s international conference and annual meeting in April; and giving another presentation to the Academy of Management in August. Just as we have been telling the SOM story to prospective students, recruiters, business executives, the media, and alumni, we also feel it is important to share what we have developed and what we have learned along the way with our peers in management education, many of whom are struggling with the same vexing disconnect between business education and business practice that compelled us to undertake our own curriculum reform. To the extent that the Yale School of Management can serve as a role model for other institutions, we hope to be able to do so.
Back at home, there have been some important administrative changes at the school. In November, we welcomed Allyson Moore as the new Director of our Career Development Office. Allyson was previously Director of Full-time MBA Career Services at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Earlier this month, I announced that Bruce DelMonico, who was serving as the school’s Director of Admissions in an acting capacity, had been permanently appointed. Both Allyson and Bruce bring experience, enthusiasm, and entrepreneurial spirit to their respective roles, and I am very pleased to have them on the school’s senior administrative team.
On a somewhat less pleasant note, in January Dean of Students Prish Pierce announced her intention to retire in June. Prish has been an institution at SOM since her arrival 16 years ago, when she was charged with creating what is now the SOM Office of Student Affairs. She has served as guide and mentor to more than half the SOM alumni community at this point, and many graduates have told me how helpful, wise, and sustaining Prish was when, as SOM students, they sought her guidance or help. Many members of the faculty and administration both admire Prish as a colleague and value her as a friend. And she has been a trusted advisor to me during the first 18 months of my deanship. The entire SOM community clearly owes her a debt of gratitude, and if you would like to send Prish a note, I know she would enjoy hearing from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to seeing some of you in my upcoming travels. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you, so please stay in touch.
With warm regards,
Joel M. Podolny
Dean and William S. Beinecke Professor of Management