Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business tapped an insider for its open deanship. The school announced today (June 1) that Paul Almeida, deputy dean of executive education and innovation — a title made up specifically for Almeida — will take over the school’s top leadership job. When Almeida officially assumes his post on August 1, it will conclude a year-long gap after former Dean David Thomas stepped down last July.
A life-long academic, Almeida joined McDonough’s faculty as a professor of strategy and international business in 1996, immediately after earning his Ph.D. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Before Wharton, Almeida earned his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Almeida’s original education training was in electrical engineering. In 2010, Thomas named Almeida the deputy dean of executive education, a post he has held until now.
“Throughout his tenure at Georgetown, Paul has exemplified a commitment to principled leadership, instilling a global mindset focused on service to others into each program and project he oversees,” Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia said in an announcement from the school. “I am deeply grateful for his willingness to serve our entire university community as dean of the McDonough School of Business.”
According to Almeida, the school formed a search committee in November. After being approached by multiple faculty members and administrators at McDonough, Almeida says he decided to “throw his hat into the ring.” After a six-month process, Almeida says the university president and provost came to their final decision.
“I like to build, I like opportunities, and I love Georgetown. I couldn’t possibly go anywhere else,” Almeida tells Poets&Quants on a phone call.
CO-FOUNDER OF SCHOOL’S GLOBAL EXECUTIVE MBA PROGRAM
Almeida has already been instrumental in building multiple initiatives at McDonough. Before his official title of deputy dean of executive education existed, Almeida co-founded the Global Executive MBA program in 2009. A top-ranked global executive MBA program, the Global Executive MBA was one of the first of its kind. Almeida partnered with deans in Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and ESADE Business School to create the program. Multiple similar programs have popped up since, but Almeida maintains it was the first.
In addition to the Global Executive MBA, Almeida has headed-up the school’s top-ranked EMBA program, an executive master’s in leadership, a master’s in international business and policy, an online master’s in finance, and a smorgasbord of custom degree and non-degree options.
Last July, Thomas added the “innovation” to Almeida’s title. Since, Almeida has led the school’s Innovation Initiative — something Almeida pretty much concocted on his own accord. “I just really like to move and want to take that to the next level,” Almeida says of the Innovation Initiative.
‘I DON’T CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT TITLES AND STUFF’
“I was always doing things a little beyond my role. And I don’t care too much about titles and stuff. I just like doing good things and making it happen,” Almeida told Poets&Quants in an interview earlier this year. “So, almost always, my titles and my official responsibilities have trailed my actions. The world is a much more flexible place if you see it that way. If you see boundaries and definitions, you sort of fold within those. And if you don’t see boundaries and restrictions, and you see opportunities, you expand in nice ways and people can recognize it and benefit from it.”
The role is a continuation of some of the work Almeida has already started and will emphasize incorporating Georgetown’s Jesuit values, technology-enhanced learning, a global approach, and leveraging the school’s geographical advantage in Washington D.C.
Ironically, in 2009, when then-dean George Daly asked Almeida to take over a leadership position in executive education, he essentially had to twist Almeida’s arm.
A RELUCTANT DEPUTY DEAN — AT FIRST
“The former dean, George Daly said, ‘You know, Paul, I’ve been asking you to do this for a few years,'” Almeida told Poets&Quants. “And I said, ‘George, I’ve done so much for you, what are you talking about?’ And, he said, N’o, no, you have to do this. Just try it for one year.’ And I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it for just one year.’ And, guess what? I ended up loving it. I had to learn a bit of stuff, but we did very well the first year and moving onward.”
As deputy dean, Almeida says he learned something about himself that will likely guide his leadership of the entire school moving forward. “I realized being the dean of executive education allowed me to unleash a facet of myself that I didn’t know existed to the extent it was,” Almeida says. “That you can be creative and innovative and make it work for you and the institution through structures and systems and processes and developing a unique culture. And that’s a challenge — developing an innovative culture in an older university, where you don’t have control over incentives and everything else.”
Educated globally in Jesuit settings, future students can also expect a continued strong commitment to those values.
“We’ve been doing exceptionally well and we’ve been getting better every year,” Almeida says. “Now we can bring a little bit of Paul’s approach and Paul’s style to a wonderful school.”
‘THE BEST IN THE WORLD AND THE BEST FOR THE WORLD’
And just what might that approach and style be? Almeida’s previous interview points to at least some broad directions.
“My slogan is, ‘The best in the world and the best for the world.’ I didn’t make it up myself, it’s from a speech from Father Adolfo Nicolás and it was just a line, but I snatched it,” Almeida said. “Because it’s great. And I think that is so Jesuit. We have to engage with presidents and prime ministers and CEOs and titans of industries to make a positive difference in the world. And so, that’s embedded.”
The most practical example of that is the legacy project, which all Global Executive MBA students complete. “There is no credit. We give them no time to do it. And we don’t supervise it. But every single cohort does it,” Almeida said. “They’ve done microfinancing for poor women in India. Or helping create a school for AIDS orphans in Kenya. Or working with underprivileged girls in Colombia. And this binds them together. Through doing this project, they see the world from a different perspective.”
Leveraging technology in the full-time MBA classrooms while emphasizing the school’s Washington D.C. locale will likely be threaded by the school’s Jesuit roots moving forward.
“If we embrace these advantages we have and commit even more deeply in our programs and our people, I think Georgetown McDonough can really soar,” he says. “So, I’m just going to focus on that. Nothing different. Just animating what we do by who we really are.”