No one can argue that Dean Mark P. Taylor hasn’t kept himself busy. Two years ago, his curriculum revamp resulted in Poets&Quants honoring Washington University’s Olin Business School as its MBA Program of the Year in 2020. At the same time, Olin’s Entrepreneurship program has reigned as the best in the world for three years running. And its undergraduate business program continues to rank among the world’s best too.
Today (May 24), the Olin School announced that Taylor would be stepping away from his role as dean on June 30. He will take a year-long academic leave starting July 1 before returning to the university in 2023 as its Donald Danforth Jr. distinguished professor of finance.
AN INTERIM REPLACEMENT
“We’ve been fortunate to have a talented leader and scholar like Mark Taylor guiding Olin Business School for the past five-plus years,” writes Provost Beverly Wendland in a news release. “As dean, he has moved the school forward in numerous ways. He launched several innovative programs and increased student access, ensuring that the world’s best business students are able to come to WashU. I know the Olin community shares my appreciation for Mark’s leadership throughout the pandemic and takes pride in the successful triple accreditation achieved during Mark’s tenure.”
Taylor was equally appreciative of the Olin community’s support for him over his past six years as dean. “It has been a great privilege to lead the Olin Business School,” he adds in the press release. “We — Olin’s faculty, staff and students — have accomplished so much in the past five-plus years, even through a pandemic. I am proud of Olin’s advancements in research, teaching and impact.”
According to the school, a search committee will be formed later this year to find Taylor’s successor. In the interim, he will be replaced by Anjan V. Thakor. He currently serves as the John E. Simon Professor of Finance and director of doctoral programs and the Wells Fargo Advisors Center for Finance and Accounting Research.
“It is my distinct pleasure to step in to guide Olin Business School as interim dean during this important time,” Thakor notes in the release. “Building on the school’s strong foundation — which has been significantly bolstered by Mark Taylor’s leadership as dean — we are poised to reach even greater heights as one of the world’s top business schools. I look forward to working with our students and my faculty colleagues as we continue to advance our efforts to change the world for good.”
A LONG AND DISTINGUISHED CAREER
Over his 40+ year professional and academic career, Taylor has carved out a reputation as a prolific researcher, master teacher, and innovative dean. Graduating from Oxford’s St. John’s College in 1980, He began his career as a foreign exchange trader for Citi that same year. Two years later, he pivoted back to academia, earning master’s degrees from the University of London’s Birbeck College and Oxford’s St. John’s College before completing his Ph.D. in Birbeck in 1984. In addition, he collected an MBA from the Institute of Education from University College, London as a part-time student and a master’s in English Literature from the University of Liverpool, In 2012, he was awarded a higher doctorate by Warwick University for lifetime distinguished contributions.
Outside of academia, Taylor has worked as a research economist for the Bank of England, a senior economist for the International Monetary Fund, and the managing director of the Global Market Strategies Group at Blackrock. In between, he has held faculty positions at Bayes Business School, University of Liverpool and the University of Oxford. His research in finance, economics, pricing, and foreign exchange markets have been cited over 38,300 times by academics, ranking him among the pre-eminent researchers in these fields.
In 2010, Taylor was named the dean of Warwick Business School, a position he held for six years. During that time, he opened a campus in London’s iconic Shard, where the school continues to deliver its Executive MBA, Executive Education, and MSc in Finance programs. In addition, he doubled the size of the school’s Coventry campus and boosted tenure and tenure-track faculty by nearly a third.
THE GLOBAL IMMERSION IS A MASTERSTROKE
Taylor continued this momentum when he accepted the Olin School’s offer to become dean in 2016. His crown jewel has unquestionably been Olin’s much publicized Global Immersion, a program that turns the traditional MBA experience on its head. Here, MBAs start the program with a 38-day international trek, which starts at Washington DC’s Brookings Institution. From there, MBAs have headed overseas in locations as different as Barcelona, Paris, Lima, Shanghai, and Beijing. At these locales, MBAs conduct site visits, meet with business and government leaders, and complete consulting projects with area businesses. Basically, first-years are together 24×7 during their first six weeks, which enables them to quickly bond as a community. Better yet, the costs of airfare, food, and lodging are included in the student tuition.
While these treks were hindered by COVID in 2020 and 2021, Taylor considers the Global Immersion to be the cornerstone of the program and a smashing success. “We increased cultural awareness, deep bonding among the students, faculty, and staff, added a lot to our soft skill development and really accelerated the personal development of the students,” he told P&Q in 2020. “If you just did the eight weeks anywhere in the world that would itself lead to accelerated development. Given the additional cultural experience on top of that gave everyone added value.”
In addition, Taylor led the charge to provide a STEM option at Olin. Similarly, the program has integrated entrepreneurship and innovation into every course. While Olin has been ahead of the curve on exposing students to the global nature of business, Taylor has revamped MBA programming to capitalize on an emerging reality that has been revolutionizing business.
“Another key differentiator for the WashU MBA is our values-based, data-driven approach to decision-making and leadership,” Taylor told P&Q in 2021. “At WashU Olin, we are committed to preparing leaders who are equipped to change the world, for good. Our program is not only rigorously data-driven, but built to reinforce the important role community, corporate, and individual values play in shaping decisions that do the most good for shareholders, customers, employees, vendors and the community at large. These principles are built into the syllabus of every course we offer at Olin Business School.”
These efforts have left the Olin Business School well-positioned well for the future. “Mark Taylor has been an exceptional leader and advocate for Olin Business School during his time at the university,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin added in the press release. “He has enhanced Olin’s international profile and made significant strategic investments in digital education. During his tenure as dean, the school has flourished, growing by nearly every measure. I’m grateful for his many contributions.”
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