Florida's business school deans talk about their MBA programs
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY I Miami
Joanne Li, dean of Florida International University’s College of Business since 2017, oversees one of the state’s largest MBA programs, with 1,078 students. FIU’s College of Business also partners with a number of business schools worldwide for joint degree programs, and its International MBA includes study abroad or global project work. Before joining the Miami university, Li was dean of business at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
The Future of FIU’s MBA: “We believe technology-infused curriculum will provide a very competitive advantage for candidates seeking MBA qualifications, and also it is the demand of the industry. We also believe we have to continue to internationalize our curriculum so that our candidates will understand the financial, business and political risk when dealing across borders and continents.”
Diversity: “We are No. 1 in producing minority candidates. A lot of companies will continue to recruit at FIU because we offer a level of diverse candidates that is unmatched and unparalleled in the marketplace right now. Our students are prepared to enter the workforce with a lot of hard skills and especially soft skills, what I call essential skills. The demands on our workday have increased tremendously, and our candidates are very used to that. They are equipped; they are hustlers; they get things done. Employers are looking for diverse backgrounds with diverse opinions and experiences and with a skill set that is traditional but also mindful about technology and attuned to trends of industry.”
Message to Students: “Your success is a circle of success. You have to have compassion and passion. Most of our candidates have that, and they all work hard. Build on your social capital, rely on your social network so that your success will permeate through your circle of influence.”
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI I Miami
To prepare students for a global economy transformed by rapid digitization, the University of Miami’s Miami Herbert Business School is revamping its full-time two-year MBA while also expanding internationally focused programs, says Dean John Quelch.
How? By making sure the programs focus on data-based decision making, global strategy and operations, and leadership and governance.
UM is exploring ways to expand STEM options to other program offerings such as an MBA curriculum balanced across soft skills and hard skills. STEM designation is important to foreign student applicants because it extends their automatic postgraduation work authorization in the U.S. by an additional 24 months, Quelch says.
In 2019, the business school launched a STEM-designated master’s in Sustainable Business, and the 10 new classes created are available to MBA students. Another innovative new offering is its OneMBA, a consortium that includes business schools in Mexico, Brazil, The Netherlands and China. Each school recruits its own class, with all classes merging for joint residencies on each of the five campuses over the course of the curriculum.
While about 20% of its MBA enrollees are from Florida, 70% want to stay after they graduate, says Quelch, making UM an important magnet for Florida’s economy. Airlines, cruise lines, accounting firms as well as Ryder and Chewy recruit its graduates.
“Florida is now a $1-trillion economy, the 17th-largest economy in the world. We are growing rapidly in financial and health services, complementing our existing strengths in tourism, hospitality and real estate. There is no shortage of great career opportunities for entrepreneurially minded MBAs here in the Sunshine State.”
FLORIDA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY I Melbourne
Ted Richardson joined Florida Institute of Technology in 2007 to run its extended studies sites and became dean of its Bisk College of Business in Melbourne in 2016. Under his watch, graduate school enrollment has increased from 70 students in 2017 to 191 today. Before joining academia at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., he was a manager at Xerox and also worked at Kenner Products and Eastman Kodak.
Being part of a technical school means there are STEM courses within the College of Business. But there’s more to it than that, Richardson says.
In the economy’s shift from manufacturing to more service businesses, the college’s MBA education (also offered online) is moving toward the quantitative side, helping students learn how to use analytics and critical thinking to understand where service businesses need to be created or improved and not be disrupted by their markets, he says.
Innovation, Richardson says, should be guided by analytical evaluation of market trends, as well as intellectual and technical capability. Florida Tech’s business school offers a Center for Innovation Management and Business Analytics, a Center for Entrepreneurship (new business incubation), a Center for Ethics and Leadership, and weVenture, a program for women entrepreneurs lauded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, to help future leaders add value to business — and society.
“We understand that an idea that is intellectual property doesn’t necessarily convert to a commercially viable business. In fact, 97% of all IP is not commercially viable,” he says. “We have courses on innovation and on entrepreneurship that enable students to think critically about what is important in order to create a business.”
FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY I Boca Raton
“We strive for excellence, and we don’t take anything for granted. We are constantly innovating in terms of our delivery methods, in terms of hiring top-notch faculty and in terms of bringing the business community into our classes,” says Dan Gropper, who was named dean of Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business in Boca Raton in 2013, after a 25-year career at Auburn University and three years in private consulting. Under his watch, MBA enrollment has grown from 533 to 864 students.
Bringing Business In: Executives who share experiences and advice with MBA classes include Jordan Zimmerman, founder of Zimmerman Advertising; Jeff Stoops, CEO of SBA Communications; Office Depot Executive Vice President Jerri DeVard; Naren Gursahaney, past CEO of ADT and NextEra Energy director; and Colin Brown, chairman of JM Family Enterprises.
Give Employers What They Want: Employers are looking for “a go-getter attitude as well as the one-two punch of strong communication and analytical skills.” FAU’s MBA graduates are picked up by Big Four and regional accounting and consulting firms, standout South Florida tech companies such as Ultimate Software and Modernizing Medicine, and health systems.
Hiring Faculty Is Like Building a Sports Team: “Sometimes you want the young ones and sometimes you want the seasoned professionals.”
Recent Recruits: Senior professors from Oregon State, DePaul University, American University, Loyola University, York University and the University of Texas-El Paso. “What we have done here at FAU is to raise the research profile.”
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