JOHNS HOPKINS DISCOVERED HIM THROUGH HIS MCKINSEY CLIENT NETWORK
Ferrari was not looking for a deanship. He had just completed a book, Power Listening, and was winding down his consulting business when he was contact for the job. He believes his McKinsey client network had recommended him for the position. His only experience with business school has occurred as a member of the University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees. Ferrari said he has spent some time helping Rochester’s Simon School Dean Mark Zupan “through some of his strategic issues. I also taught some at the school as a guest lecturer in the strategy and leadership area.”
Ferrari acknowledges that there is much work to be done at Carey. Among other things, the Carey school has yet to gain accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate School of Business (AACSB). “The Carey school is old and it is young,” believes Ferrari. “You don’t see that very often. It has given out part-time MBA degrees for quite some time and has some 16,000 to 18,000 alumni from the part-time programs. On the other hand, the full-time program has just graduated the charter class. It’s closer to a startup. So there is a lot of building to do there and a lot of enhancement of the part-time programs.”
He said he isn’t in a hurry to have Carey accredited. “I’m fairly relaxed about that,” he told Poets&Quants. “I think accreditation needs to be done as part of a process. It is not a contrived exercise. It should be a wholesome exercise. You have to have integrity to everything you do. I want to take some time to understand the edifice that has been built and then understand what needs to be done. I’m fairly relaxed about that because when we judge it’s the right time for us I want to clear the bar by quite a margin, not by scraping over it.”
As for his forte, the world of strategy, Ferrari seems to think the strategy is simple. “If you talk to our customers, whether they are large companies or non-profits, you will hear the same thing: ‘We like MBAs, but we sure wish they had some industry expertise’ or, as I call it, vertical expertise. I think that we are teaching the tools that are associated with a general business degree. We will strive to teach them in the context of a couple of verticals so people have a leg up on the job market. I don’t want to herd a student into a specialty or two where that student has no flexibility. This is not a vocational school.
‘SPECIALIZATION IS GOOD. SUPER SPECIALIZATION IS NOT WHAT WE ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF DOING’
“The health care specialty or vertical focus for us is natural. Many of our students will dive in with both feet. Some will find it as a good metaphor for a lot of things they want to do. Others will choose not to participate there and will do something else. Specialization is good. Super specialization is not what we are in the business of doing.”
Ferrari, 63, declined to reveal the length of his contract. “I don’t know what retirement is. For me, retirement occurs when I have to do less because I’m tired or I’m not as well as I used to be. Sixty is the new 40.”
Ferrari said he and his wife will move to Baltimore, but also maintain their New York residence.