A message from Yale SOM Dean Joel M. Podolny
October 22, 2008
Dear SOM Community:
If you have just read President Levinís email, you now know that I will be stepping down as dean of the Yale School of Management on November 1 to join Apple as vice president and dean of Apple University.
I wanted to follow-up President Levinís communication with a note of my own. This is not a decision I have taken lightly, and I am sure it comes as a surprise to many of you. The last three and a half years have been absolutely amazing, both for me and for all of the many constituents of this school. Working together, we have come far and accomplished much. We have taken great steps to establish SOM as a leader and a role model for what management education can and should be.
On a personal level, I have never worked harder or felt more professionally rewarded, and I certainly expected to be here for some time. I have often told people that I have the best job in management education, and I could not imagine taking a business school deanship or any other administrative position at another academic institution. There is no business or management school with a more noble mission, and there is no school with a curriculum whose teaching is better training for the opportunities and challenges of management today.
While there are many great companies, I cannot think of one that has had as tremendous personal meaning for me as Apple. I remember writing my first computer program on an Apple II, remember pulling an all-nighter to watch the Laserwriter (attached to my 128K Mac) print my undergraduate thesis at 7-minutes per page. I also remember being amazed and proud when my oldest son, then only 12, created shareware on his Mac that was subsequently downloaded by thousands of people. I remember the first time that my youngest son handed me his iPod; I got to see the videos that made him laugh and hear some of the music that made clear to me how much more sophisticated his ear is than mine. These events are part of the fabric of my life, and I am excited to know that I will be joining an organization for which I have so much respect and enthusiasm, a company whose reputation for innovation and excellence is second to none.
What is hardest about this decision is that I will be leaving so many faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the school who have put in so much effort to transform this institution. I obviously wish that the call from Apple had come later in my tenure, but we canít always control the timing around such things.
So even as I am excited about this new chapter in my life, I am very sad to be leaving SOM. However, I can state unequivocally that I would not consider leaving if I did not feel that the school was on a strong footing. As a school, we know who we are. We have embraced our distinct mission, and are singularly and fundamentally focused on cultivating a distinct model of leadership, a model that can and should be applied across industry and sector. We know we will soon have a spectacular new campus that will support and sustain our educational model. As a community of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, we know what we must do to execute on the unique and necessary MBA curriculum that we have pioneered.
I am thankful to President Levin for providing me with the opportunity to lead this school for the last three and a half years, and for supporting SOM and me so strongly during my tenure as dean. I know ó in fact, he has assured me ó that his strong support for the school will continue well beyond my deanship.
A strong indicator of President Levinís support is his selection of Professor Sharon Oster as my successor. I am thrilled by his choice, and I am thankful that she has agreed to take on this task. She embodies all the best aspects of the institution. Her research and teaching span the range of the schoolís commitment to business and society. There was no faculty member who was more critical to the successful implementation of our new curriculum, as her winning of the SOMAAís teaching award last year attests. She is a person of tremendous energy and integrity; her love for the school and for her students is evident to anyone who has met her. It has been obvious to me for some time that she would make a wonderful dean for the school; indeed, I have told her as much on multiple occasions. While I will try to share some of the things that I have learned on this job with Sharon before I depart, what I share will pale in comparison to how much I have learned from watching her as a teacher and a leader among faculty.
I am sure many of us will talk in the weeks ahead. Even though I am stepping down on November 1, I will continue to serve in my capacity as a Yale SOM faculty member. I will continue to teach, and I will work with colleagues on the faculty to further refine some aspects of the integrated curriculum before I take up my position at Apple in early 2009. I know there will be many hard good-byes. I also know this is not the typical email from a dean, but SOM is not a typical school. We put an emphasis on the personal, and so I wanted to let you know ó and to offer my thanks to each of you ó in as personal of terms as I could.