Best Candidates To Be Dean at Kellogg, Haas, Cornell & UCLA

Kellogg Dean Sally Blount says the $250 million Global Hub came in on time and under budget.

Youngme Moon

Harvard Business School’s Youngme Moon

Any search committee would be hardpressed not to look closely at Harvard Business School’s Youngme Moon, the dynamic marketing professor and current senior associate dean for strategy and innovation. The biggest problem, however, is extracting this dynamo of a leader from HBS where she will most likely become the first female dean and successor to Nitin Nohria.

The first Asian-American woman to receive tenure at Harvard Business School, the 53-year-old Moon boasts gravitas as an academic as well as proven experience as a superb leader and strategist of a large organization. Moon earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford and her B.A. from Yale University.  Prior to joining Harvard Business School, she was on the faculty a MIT Sloan.

She has a track record as a true innovator. When she headed up Harvard’s MBA program from 2010 to 2014, she launched a number of key innovations in the curriculum, including more experiential learning in global settings at what had been a 100% case study school. She also was a key player in the launch of HBX, the business school’s online initiative, and its first and most successful program of business fundamentals called CORe (Credential of Readiness). So she would bring significant knowledge to Kellogg about the online education space.

Besides, Moon is a master teacher who has received the HBS Award for Teaching Excellence on multiple occasions and currently offers one of the most popular courses in the MBA program. She is also the inaugural recipient of the Hellman Faculty Fellowship, awarded for distinction in research. A welcome bonus: Her expertise in branding, consumer behavior and consumer goods, reinforced by the publication of a best-selling book, syncs with Kellogg’s stellar reputation in marketing.

Thomas Hubbard

Kellogg’s Thomas Hubbard

Of the few  internal candidates to succeed Blount, the search committee would be making a grave mistake if it overlooked Thomas Hubbard who has been a professor at Kellogg since 2005. During the early years of Blount’s deanship, he served as senior associate dean for strategic initiatives from 2012 to 2015, an ideal position providing broad and deep knowledge of the management education landscape.

He is a solid intellect who also served as chair of Kellogg’s management and strategy department. Before joining Kellogg, he had been a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School and at UCLA. He also has been a visiting professor at Columbia Business School during 2004-2005. So he has the advantage of not only being head of strategy for Kellogg but also a feel for the cultures of three peer institutions.

He’s also immensely likeable. On his Twitter feed, he describes himself simply as a professor who happens to be a “Red Sox fan, golfer, dad of 3 and husband.”

Hubbard’s research interests mainly concern how information problems affect the organization of firms and markets, and therefore the structure of industries. His work has appeared in top-ranked journals such as the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Rand Journal of Economics. He is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

He earned his PhD at Stanford in economics and his BA from Princeton University with high honors, also in economics.

Julian Birkinshaw

London Business School Deputy Dean Julian Birkinshaw

If the search committee wants Kellogg to have a truly global candidate in the mix, Julian Birkinshaw at London Business School should be at the top of the list. He is one of the few European business school leaders who meets all the criteria a U.S. school could ever want in a dean.

A long-time professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at LBS for 18 years, he is media savvy, having been quoted in numerous publications from The Wall Street Journal to The Economist. He is highly acomplished as the author of 13 books and more than 90 articles in such journals as the Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Harvard Business Review and Sloan Management Review. He is a gifted orator, able to deliver compelling, smart and highly articulate points of view to large and discriminating audiences.

And he is a true believer to what most business schools merely give lip service to: bridging the gap between research and practice. With management guru Gary Hamel, Birkinshaw was the co-founder of the Management Innovation Lab, a partnership between academia and business to accelerate the evolution of management.

Birkinshaw earned his administrative chops as deputy dean of programs at LBS and academic director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneruship. He earned his BSc from the University of Durha and his PhD and MBA from Western University’s Ivey School of Business in Canada.

Cornell University Johnson College of Business

Of the four current deanships, this one will certainly be the toughest to fill from the outside. That’s largely because of the mysterious and overnight sacking of Dean Soumitra Dutta in January of this year with no explanation. Even worse,  the terse announcement of Dutta’s resignation—in just two sentences by a university spokesperson—did not even include a boilerplate thank you or praise for what Dutta had accomplished in the job. Without the ability to dismiss him from the faculty, the university administration has left a huge cloud of uncertainty for the next dean to wade through.

Still, Cornell is a great university and will always be able to attract a strong leader to what is a great opportunity to lead all three of the merged schools: Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the School of Hotel Administration. The mashup effectively made the Cornell school rank third in terms of the size of its research faculty, behind Harvard Business School and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Once the merger was complete by 2016, Dutta who had been dean of the Johnson School since July of 2012 then become leader of the newly integrated business school that boasts 145 research faculty and nearly 2,900 undergraduate, professional, and graduate students.

The India-born academic came to Cornell from INSEAD where he had been a professor of business and technology for some 22 years. Though the Cornell Johnson post was his first job as dean, Dutta has served in various administrative roles at INSEAD, as head of external relations, executive education, and technology and e-learning. L. Joseph Thomas, a former dean of the Johnson School from 2007 to 2012,  has been appointed interim dean until a permanent dean is appointed. The political undertones of Dutta’s ouster may sway the odds in favor of an inside candidate who can immediately gain the trust of the administration and be in a better position to leverage the advantages this recent merger.

Mark Nelson

Cornell Johnson Dean Mark Nelson

Though he only became dean of the Johnson Graduate School of Management in 2016, succeeding Dutta in the job, Mark Nelson has done a superb job representing the school and moving its innovative Cornell Tech MBA program onto the university’s new New York City campus on Roosevelt Island. He is devoted to the school, articulate about its mission and purpose, and a strong consensus leader. All this makes him a solid choice to succeed Dutta.

For one thing, Nelson is a well-known and respected academic on campus. When he was appointed to his five-year term as dean, Provost Michael Kotlikoff publicly noted that “the selection committee and I have been extraordinarily impressed by the depth, sophistication and comprehensiveness of his thinking regarding all aspects of the deanship, Johnson and the College of Business. We are extremely pleased and enthusiastic about his acceptance of this post.”

For another, Nelson, who reported directly to Dutta, knows the school and the university well. A member of the Johnson faculty since 1990, Nelson served as associate dean for academic affairs from 2007 to 2010, overseeing the school’s tenure-track faculty and research. Having been in the Cornell community for nearly 30 years gives him a strong knowledge base to step into a difficult situation and do well in it.

And it also helps that he has taught in two of the three schools. Nelson’s teaching has focused on intermediate accounting, including MBA courses at Johnson as well as undergraduate courses at Dyson. His many teaching awards include those from Cornell and Ohio State University as well as the AAA’s inaugural Cook Prize for teaching excellence. Nelson earned his Ph.D. in accounting in 1990 and a Master of Accounting degree in 1989, both from Ohio State University. In 1985, he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Iowa State University.

Doug Skinner

Doug Skinner at Chicago Booth

For a brief 10-month period, Douglas Skinner quietly took over the deanship at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business on an interim basis. The accounting professor did an outstanding job at Booth holding things together between the departure of Sunil Kumar and the arrival of Madhav Rajan from Stanford.

The taste of being in charge, albeit briefly, probably gave the Australian more of an appetite for a chance to run a school over the long-term. Besides, he is a solid, though less than flashy, leader—exactly the kind of person Cornell needs at the moment. He also has the EQ to manage the delicate relationship between the university and the college of business at Cornell.

Skinner was chosen for the interim job at Booth after serving in the dean’s office for 16 months as deputy dean for faculty. He joined Booth in 2005 as an accounting professor from the University of Michigan where he had been on the faculty since 1989.

A leading expert in corporate disclosure practices, corporate financial reporting and corporate finance, Skinner had taught corporate finance and investments in Booth’s Executive MBA program in London and Asia for six years and also taught and supervised PhD students in accounting.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics with first class honors in Accounting and Finance from Macquarie University in Sydney and a master’s degree and PhD in Applied Economics from the University of Rochester.

Peter Tufano

Peter Tufano, dean of Oxford’s Said Business School

If Peter Tufano is getting a little homsick for America, the Cornell job could be appealing to him. He has now been dean of Oxford’s Saïd Business School since 2011, a job he assumed after serving as a faculty member at the Harvard Business School for 22 years. In fact, Tufano would be a leading candidate to succeed Nitin Nohria at HBS given the superb job he has done at Oxford as well as the number of key leadership roles he held while at Harvard.

At HBS, Tufano served as department chair, course head, and senior associate dean. He oversaw the school’s tenure and promotion processes, its campus planning, and he advised the university on financial and real estate matters. He was also the founding co-chair of the Harvard innovation lab (i-lab), a cross-university initiative to foster entrepreneurship and something that should make him especially appealing to Cornell given the recent opening of the school’s New York City Cornell Tech campus.

At Oxford, Tufano has quickly established himself as one of the more visionary deans. He has launched several initiatives to differentiate Saïd from other business schools, including a 1+1 MBA program that allows students to combine an MBA with scores of other masters program Oxford as well as a highly innovative capstone course for MBAs on Global Opportunities and Threats. Tufano also has been behind Oxford Launchpad, an incubator that brings together the school’s business students with counterparts on new business ventures.

Tufano earned his AB in economics (summa cum laude), MBA (with high distinction) and PhD in Business Economics at Harvard University.

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