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Is Yale The ‘Most Distinctively Global’ U.S. Business School?

Senior Associate Dean Anjani Jain at Yale School of Management

Senior Associate Dean Anjani Jain at Yale School of Management

It’s an alluring morning in New Haven, Ct. Under a brilliant sun, the air is crisp and cool. The leaves on the trees are beginning to transform into a kaleidoscope of colors. And Dean Edward “Ted” Snyder of Yale University’s School of Management is strolling the halls of the school’s brand new $243 million complex.

Huddled on chairs and sofas in the lobby are a group of young people—a dozen or so would be applicants to SOM—who are waiting for an admissions official to give them the pitch and a tour of the building which looks so modern it could be the Starship Enterprise. Dean Snyder moseys on over to the group and asks what interests them most about Yale’s School of Management.

The first and second people who answer his question causes him to nearly wince. One earnest looking young man immediately says that it is the school’s non-profit slant. Another says it is relatively small size of Yale’s MBA program which this fall enrolled just 323 students, a little more than a third of the totals at Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Kellogg, or Booth.

MAKING YALE ‘THE MOST DISTINCTIVELY GLOBAL U.S. BUSINESS SCHOOL’

What Dean Snyder had hoped to hear was that these potential applicants were keen on Yale because it is, in the dean’s own words, “the most distinctively global U.S. business school.” That is, after all, what Snyder has tirelessly worked to do in repositioning the school since his arrival as dean in mid-2011. There are only two other answers that he would have preferred to hear this morning: that they’re keen to look at SOM because it is among the most integrated business schools with its home university or because it is the best source of leaders for all sectors and regions.

Those are Snyder’s three aspirations for the Yale School of Management. Becoming a truly global business school, however, has required the most reengineering of the school’s mission and purpose. And as the answers from the young professionals suggest, going global may well be easier than gaining recognition for being global.

After all, despite years of effort by rivals to rid themselves of the narrow definitions placed on them, too many people still consider Harvard the school for future CEOs, Stanford for entrepreneurs, Wharton for finance, and Northwestern for marketing. Undaunted, Snyder is plowing full speed ahead with his global strategy for the school and has made remarkable progress in just three years, notwithstanding the cluelessness shown by the applicants in the hallway.

‘IF WE SUCCEED, IT WILL BE A FUNDAMENTAL REPOSITIONING OF THE SCHOOL’

“If we succeed,” proclaims Snyder, “what’s going to happen is we are going to get students who respond to the call. They will already be über global or aspiring to be global and that will be a big difference. We see this becoming a bigger part of the pool. It’s a fundamental repositioning for the school.”

Snyder’s global thrust is at the center of SOM’s transformation which includes a new modern building, significantly increased scholarship money to get the best MBA students, a new focus on entrepreneurship, and far more outreach to what Yale University brings to the game. The school’s rankings in both The Financial Times and Bloomberg Businessweek are up dramatically. In Businessweek, SOM climbed 15 positions to sixth place, the highest rank ever achieved by the school in any major ranking. Round one applications have risen by 10%, with 55% of them coming from outside the U.S., slightly better than the more traditional 50-50 split.

“Right now there is an incredible sense of excitement about the growth of the place,” says Andrew Metrick, a finance professor who also serves as deputy dean. “It has really taken us a while to grow up. We’re only 30 years old and that is really young for a business school. But we have really turned a corner. We used to be in other people’s buildings. We didn’t have an endowment. We had an allowance where the university would just write a check. We now have a physical space that matches the quality of the faculty and the students. We really look like a 21st Century business school, and there has been a lot of positive momentum.”

For most other business schools, going global has meant increasing the percentage of MBA students from outside the home country, recruiting faculty with foreign passports, boosting international case studies and examples in classes, and adding a few exchange programs with other schools. Few schools have fundamentally overhauled their curricula, however, and fewer have genuinely partnered with other universities in deeper ways.

“U.S. business school deans have not globalized,” insists Snyder, who believes that if you put aside the long-standing student semester exchanges and partnerships over Executive MBA programs, most of what has occurred is changes in the markets for faculty, applicants and graduates. “Those changes have been thrust upon top schools. There are so many interesting places in the world that have been left out of business schools.”

GAINING THE ‘NETWORK EFFECTS’ OF AN ENTIRELY UNIQUE 27-SCHOOL CONSORTIUM

In contrast, Yale has upped the game considerably, creating a network of 27 top business schools from every corner of the globe, including the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Launched in April of 2012, the Global Network for Advanced Management schools share unique programming, from on-campus network weeks to small network online courses or SNOCs. They develop global case studies, facilitate faculty partnerships, and hold events with such major speakers as Google’s Eric Schmidt and micro finance pioneer and social entrepreneur Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.

Member schools are adapting programs to sync with the global network. Technion in Israel recently launched a full-time MBA program in English called the Startup MBA and built its academic calendar around the global network groups. “Schools are adjusting their strategies to take advantage of it,” says David Bach, senior associate dean for global programs at Yale. “It’s cool to see how the network effects are kicking in.”

The global initiative has become central to Snyder’s strategy to make Yale SOM a Top 10 business school. “That really is a very important unifying theme for what Ted is trying to do,” says Fiona Scott Morton, an economics professor at the school. “And the way Ted is going about it makes an enormous amount of sense. We’re not opening a far-flung campus or doing a partnership. Those are expensive and very 20th Century solutions. Ted puts this network together and waits for these ideas to bubble up and they do.”

  • don-johnson

    I don’t understand why Jain winced at the non-profit slant answer from the applicant. The Yale SOM ‘about’ section is very clear about it:

    “The school’s students, faculty, and alumni are committed to understanding the complex forces transforming global markets and using that understanding to build organizations—in the for-profit, nonprofit, entrepreneurial, and government sectors—that contribute lasting value to society.”

    Nothing in the article made me want to apply to Yale. SNOCs sounds like a MOOCs — it’s frustrating to collaborate remotely. To me, the semester abroad sounds valuable if I can build a network of contacts in another region — either in Europe (LBS/INSEAD/etc.), South America (FGV/etc.), or Asia (NUS/INSEAD). It’s hard to achieve that without developing meaningful relationships over time and regular in-person interactions of reciprocity. International flavor sounds like a top ramen flavor packet.

    Brain drain + H1-B Lottery System = Bad Career Stats. Talking to other applicants, people from emerging markets seeking a western MBA generally want to migrate to a country with a better standard of living. I am working for a large multinational and we have trouble recruiting good talent in Eastern Europe and Asia because everyone talented wants to move to Western Europe or the USA. Just had a discussion about a current IMD student from an emerging market who would probably be a good fit but he won’t work in his home country. There is no desire to bring him into a local US or western Europe business unit. Students that are able to find the employers seeking to add diversity and willing to sponsor them aren’t guaranteed a spot in the states now that H1-B Visa demand exceeds supply. This won’t stem the supply of qualified applicants — but honestly I don’t want to go to school with a bunch of people who want to get jobs in the states but won’t be able to succeed because the US government won’t give them the chance. Poor networking opportunity.

    I applied to over 10 schools this year and the real reason Yale SOM wasn’t on it was because I looked at LinkedIn and most consulting alumni work at Deloitte/BearingPoint/PwC/EY. Weak in MBB and weak in industry jobs as well. Forget banking — no point of going to a case study school for finance.

    If Jain wants to carve out a speciality of developing talented MBA grads that want to work in emerging markets for multinationals / non-profits / gov’t — he may be on to something. But I don’t see that sort of specialty school making its way into the top 10.

    I say he should embrace the non-profit / public service reputation Yale has developed. I tell people considering an MPA to look at the Yale MBA instead. If I wanted to go into the non-profit world, I would apply to Yale and pitch my application the other way about returning to industry because apparently Yale SOM is trying to make an about face.

  • knights

    Wharton is, by most accounts, the clear frontrunner in terms of global presence and influence – both in the private and public sectors, and beyond dispute in the world’s financial centers.

  • knights

    The fact that so many people can see through the fabricated hype around what amounts to such an inconsequential ‘initiative’ should clue you in.

  • knights

    All of John’s posts or articles seem to have an ulterior motive of obscuring the fact that Wharton has, and is poised yet again, to dominate and reclaim its #1 position in the global community.

  • knights

    Yes, we all know Byrne is biased against Wharton. Heaven forbid he write a positive piece about Wharton, which would’ve been the perfect candidate for such an article on global prominence.

  • DubaiUAEvp

    John,
    Is this article some kind of a joke? I’m not trying to be too blunt here, but it’s pretty clear by all measures that Wharton is the world’s most global school, with over 92,000 alumni across 150 countries. They also hold MULTIPLE global conferences and alumni forums around the world each year. Past locations include Milan, Jakarta, Tokyo, Paris, San Francisco, Madrid, Seoul, Dubai, Bogota, Lima, Ho Chi Minh City, Cape Town, Hong Kong, San José, Zurich, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Mexico City, Singapore, London, Panama and Beijing.

    Regarding your bias against Wharton (go ahead and deny it yet again), it shouldn’t be sufficient to warrant overlooking the school that accounts for the majority of influential alumni abroad for a school with such a small, largely localized alumni community. Wharton also accounts for the vast majority of Central Bank governors and finance ministers abroad.

  • UmNoJustNo

    Again, no one cares about your admits. That’s the point. You have nothing to brag about. If you got into your favorite program then congrats – so did plenty of other people. But you shouldn’t be going around bragging like you’re the only one who got into those schools. This isn’t like you won the lottery.