The largest accreditation body for business education, the AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), has named Tom Robinson its new President and CEO. Robinson will succeed John Fernandes on May 1 after a two-month transition during which he will work closely with outgoing CEO Fernandes who is retiring after a 15-year stint in the job.
Robinson, who once taught business school students at the University of Miami and Case Western Reserve, is coming from the CFA Institute where he is the Managing Director of the Americas. He is stepping into a leadership role at a time of a rapidly evolving and challenging management education climate. Consequently, Robinson sees three main trends in business education that will guide his agenda in the coming years: the increasing influence of technology on higher education, a greater need for life-long learning, and shifting demographics in business school students and faculty over the next three decades.
“Companies are more global than ever before and this makes for a very diverse workforce,” says Robinson. “Business schools have to prepare students for the global workforce. This means knowing about sub-regional countries that are putting in more local rules and regulations. It is also about people who want to do their own thing and pursue entrepreneurship instead of working for global corporations. Business schools need to bridge those areas and it starts with us helping them.”
THE CHALLENGES ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES
Robinson met with the board of AACSB once earlier this week and said they are a visionary group geared to providing the most for accredited schools. “We all want membership with the AACSB to be very valuable,” says Robinson. “We have all the data to help schools address those trends. We just have to make sure they have that data.”
Robinson says this also means the AACSB will continue gathering data from businesses around the world to understand what is happening in management and shape curriculum for business schools accordingly. “Businesses should be innovative, have a social impact and engage with communities,” Robinson says. “And as a guiding and governing organization, we must model that.”
Above all, Robinson says the three main trends pose challenges but also opportunities. He says the shifting demographic to a more urban population and one that increasingly expects technology to be deployed in providing education will give the AACSB an opportunity for significant innovation. Robinson also believes that technology can be smartly used to more efficiently deliver life-long learning to managers.
‘CHANGE BEGETS MORE CHANGE’
“The global landscape for management education has shifted dramatically, requiring business schools to examine their roles in society,” says Linda Livingstone, chair of the AACSB Board and dean of The George Washington University School of Business in a statement. “Tom’s strategic leadership experience and global business knowledge, coupled with his unique perspective on business education will help AACSB in its efforts to better understand, and ultimately shape the roles that management and management education should play.”
Prior to the CFA Institute, Robinson spent 10 years in the private sector as a public accountant and was tenured in accounting at the University of Miami. The AACSB was founded in 1916 and is now an association of more than 1,450 educational institutions, businesses and other organizations in 86 countries and territories.
“Change begets more change and things are moving at a rapid place,” Robinson says. “In this role, it is my responsibility to make sure business schools are set up to stay up to date in this rapidly evolving marketplace.”
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