B-School Deans, Others Offer 2019 Predictions

What does 2019 hold for business schools and graduate business education? We asked profs and deans at the leading schools.

What does 2019 have in store for graduate business education? Poets&Quants asked deans and professors from some of the top schools to look into their crystal balls and predict the future, and we compiled their answers. One school’s research department predicts a recession is on the way for the U.S. economy. A Michigan professor opined at length on the viability of the Affordable Care Act. The importance of diversity will grow, says another school’s associate dean, and along with it, allyship. And the leading schools will continue to promote business as not just a pathway to profit but a force for good.

If there is anything resembling a consensus among the B-school luminaries we polled, it’s that the importance of technology and tech advances will continue — and continue to grow — in the new year and beyond. That’s certainly the view of Jonathan Levin, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The challenges that arise in 2019 will be best met with innovation and collaboration between diverse stakeholders, he says, a factor that will be Stanford’s focus in the new year and years to come. Big technological shifts, he adds, will make the MBA an even more valuable asset than it already is.

“As technology continues to influence the way business leaders make decisions, I predict that the value of the MBA degree will increase in future years,” Levin tells Poets&Quants. “The world is quickly embracing machine learning, automation, data science and other emerging innovations, and it’s vital that the next generation of business leaders possess the skills necessary to make critical decisions that will impact the future of our global economy. I believe that business schools are best equipped to develop these skill sets in a way that is thoughtful and responsible, equipping students with the soft and hard skills necessary to tackle complex changes.

“As we enter 2019, Stanford GSB will continue to recruit and hire diverse faculty who have experience applying emerging technology to business challenges, as well as explore new courses that can help students consider the unique challenges and ethical dilemmas faced by businesses in this new era.”


Cornell Johnson’s Vishal Gaur. Courtesy photo

Vishal Gaur, associate dean for MBA programs and Emerson professor of manufacturing management at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, says his school recognizes the growing value of diversity in business and business education and will continue in the new year to promote and foster it. It’s an effort, he says, that goes hand in hand with the cross-disciplinary opportunities Cornell embraces and promotes at both its campuses. “Diversity and allyship will continue increasing in importance in 2019,” Gaur says. “At Johnson, we have integrated diversity and allyship experiences into all our course disciplines, whether finance or technology or entrepreneurship, through our first-year immersion curriculum. We also have created a strong partnership with students to promote dialogue in our community through our Fiery Topics series. These enhancements help prepare our students to be leaders who can shape culture, be strong team players, and innovate, and also ensure that the Johnson community supports all of its members.

“I see growth in cross-disciplinary educational opportunities as another important force for MBA programs in 2019. The new Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and our MBA program at Cornell Tech are creating tremendous opportunities for cross-disciplinary integration for our MBA students, both across campuses and with our sister schools. This is particularly impacting students interested in intersections with technology and entrepreneurship. We will continue to invest in new programs that span schools and campuses and create cross-disciplinary opportunities for our students.”

pastedGraphic.pngM. Eric Johnson, dean of the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, says 2019 will be a year of developments that no one can predict.

“Get ready for surprises!” Johnson tells P&Q. “In a world driving by algorithms, big data, sensors, and AI, we will see more surprising computer-driven outcomes. Some are as simple as that strange detour that Waze recommends to avoid multiple pinch points of construction and traffic. Others are more breathtaking, like the December 26 massive stock market rally — the first 1,000-point single-day DOW run-up in history. Reporting on the post-Christmas surge, the WSJ highlighted trader surprise: ‘”There’s only one word to describe this: astonishment,” said Michael Antonelli, a trader for R.W. Baird & Co. “I’m sitting on a desk with people who are 20- to 25-year veterans of trading and our mouths are hanging opened, astonished. It was a melt-up and you may never see price action like this again in your life.”'”


UCLA’s Terry Kramer. Courtesy photo

Terry Kramer, faculty director for the Easton Technology Management Center and adjunct professor of Decisions, Operations & Technology Management at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, says 2019 will be “The Year of Data” and its accelerating impact on consumers, enterprises, and society. “Technological innovations during the past few years have taught us one thing,” he says. “Everything is accelerating.”

Kramer says the changes are everywhere, “from processing power in computing devices, the speed of consumer feedback and product life-cycle, and the emergence of many disruptive ventures to the rapid demise of those failing to adapt. The catalyst for this in many cases has been the availability, quality, and access to data.

“In 2019, we will see an exponential increase in this data, fueled by rapidly increasing levels of e-commerce, social network expansions, and most notably of late, the Internet of Things in both consumer and enterprise applications. Whether it be connected homes, connected cars, wearable devices in the consumer world or in the enterprise environment with connected buildings, vehicles, aircraft, power transmission sites, and cities, we are on a path to billions of devices being connected. This increase will demand a unique ability to understand this data and fuel ‘real’ predictive capabilities in areas such as autonomous vehicles, diagnostic capabilities in healthcare, virtual assistants on mobile devices and in call centers, and the best capabilities yet in contextualizing search and recommendation engines. These offerings will move past theory into early commercial offerings in multiple sectors. 

“This vision signals the importance of preparing students, both today and tomorrow, for successful leadership careers in technology-based businesses. It also reflects the need for leadership in all industries, not just traditional tech, as all businesses face the opportunities and challenges of technology-based disruptions. Should be a ‘high impact ride’!”

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