Meet The New Dean Of Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School Of Business

Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business. ASU photo


Poets&Quants: It’s customary to ask new deans about their five-year plan. I know you just started, but can you let us know what you’ve got planned?

Ohad Kadan: As I was accepting this position in November last year, I decided that I needed to launch a strategic planning process for W.P. Carey. It’s a big organization. We have more than 19,000 students. Just to give you an idea, 19,000 students is bigger than the entire WashU — not the business school, the university!

And so it’s a big organization — more than 300 faculty, 300 staff members — and as a new dean that’s a great time to revisit everything that we are doing and think long-term: Who do we want to be? What do we want to become? What’s our identity? What’s our goal? What’s our North Star? And so what I did is, I gathered the faculty and the staff, and we created a steering committee to launch a strategic planning process that actually engaged all of our stakeholders, including our faculty, staff, students, alumni, business community, our leadership from the university — everybody was invited to participate.

And I’ll share you with you some highlights from that plan that is currently being finalized. We are still not done, but I can already share some major ideas from what we are doing.

So first, in terms of our vision: Our vision is to transform the world through access, excellence, and innovation in business knowledge while keeping our tradition, that the culture of business is personal. So I’m going to pause on each and every word here, okay? So access, excellence, innovation — this is critical. ASU and W.P. Carey are unique among business schools in the sense that they try to merge or marry these two concepts, access and excellence. Many schools are focused on excellence. Take the Harvards and Stanfords of the world. Fantastic schools. Similarly, my previous employer WashU Olin is a great school, amazing school. But what we are doing here at W.P. Carey, we have 19,000 students, so access is our mission, our mission says education is not a luxury. Education changes lives, opens doors, creates opportunities. We cannot afford not to provide education.

At the same time we are saying that we are going to be excellent. We are going to be up there in the rankings. We are going to have some of the best faculty out there. Our programs are going to be outstanding. So access and excellence married is a unique feature of W.P. Carey in the ASU. It’s part of the leadership and the vision of (ASU President) Michael Crow. He’s a visionary in that space. And the way we are doing it is through the third leg, which is innovation. We just do things differently. We cannot do everything the same as everybody else because otherwise we’ll end up coming up short on either access or excellence. And so we are trying to create new programs, new approaches, be entrepreneurs, basically, in the education space — and as big as we are, we are insisting on this business in its personal approach.

Basically, we care for each other. We know our students. We care for our students, and that’s another staple, another symbol of who we are. So it’s a little of a marrying or merging of different contrasts — access, excellence, big — while caring for each other, but that’s why it’s challenging. It is a challenging task. It’s very demanding on resources. You’d say access is demanding on resources. We need to scholarship a lot of students. Excellence is very demanding. Faculty are expensive, all faculty. We need to do all the above, and so I view this as a challenging task for myself and for my team, but we are up to the task. That’s our vision.

If you look at our mission, that’s basically, “What is it that we’re going to do? What are objectives?” There’s three of them. Very simple. One is, we teach. It’s our education mission.

Two is, we research. We create knowledge.

And third, which is not as emphasized, we engage. We engage with businesses. We engage with communities. We engage with the government. We engage with the rest of the campus. We are taking responsibility for our community, and we are committed to advancing knowledge that creates a positive impact in the world. So we are engaged with our surrounding as a business school. That’s critical for who we are.

What new initiatives should we expect under your leadership?

Ohad Kadan. File photo

They will flow from the vision and mission. So I’ll just mention a few.

Grow faculty talent: We have already started under my leadership during the last spring; under my guidance, W.P. Carey has hired 33 new full-time faculty, and 10 post-docs. This was an amazing hiring year, which was already catering to that excellence mission. Just driving forward the reputation of our faculty, critical.

We are going to grow our graduate programs. Our undergraduate program is growing very fast. Just this year we have grown more than 10%. That’s part of our access mission, but we need to keep growing also our graduate programs. And this includes our MBA, full-time, online, executive, evening, but also our specialized master’s programs: master of finance, master of business, master of accountancy, and so on, master of supply chain and logistics. All of these programs need to grow. They are very important for our reputation, but also for generating resources. If you look at the mix between undergraduate and graduate programs among other top business schools, they are leaning toward graduate programs. We know some of the top programs only have graduate programs, only an MBA program, and not even an undergraduate. We are kind of flipped. We are reversed. We have a very large weight on the undergraduate program, but I want to keep growing that. That’s our access mission. But at the same time, I want our graduate programs to keep growing, size and quality.

That’s another initiative: Executive education. Phoenix is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. In fact, Maricopa County is, as far as I know, the fastest-growing county in the nation last year. It is basically individuals moving into Phoenix, businesses moving into Phoenix. Just to give you an example, Intel is investing $20 billion in Phoenix hubs. Taiwan Semiconductor in investing $12 billion in a new hub in the Phoenix region.

So there are huge opportunities for partnerships between the school and these and other businesses?

Huge, huge. And a huge industry around real estate, healthcare, and other industries.

We are not as active as we need to be in executive education, in the lifelong learning space. That to me is a low-hanging fruit. And I not only launched that effort, I created a new unit headed by our Senior Associate Dean Raghu Santanam, who even before I started had started leading that effort.

Other initiatives: D&I, everybody’s talking about this. We are already in terms of student population quite diverse, I would say, more diverse than many other schools. If you look at our undergraduate population, about one third of our population is underrepresented minorities. If you look at our full-time MBA, 24%. So these numbers are maybe not where they need to be, but I think better than some other schools.

And we are still not where we need to be in terms of diversity in our faculty. That’s still a work in progress and we are working on that, but that’s not the end. We need to take D&I very seriously as a school which means that we need to infuse it into our curriculum. How do we teach and educate around D&I and into our research? How do we develop knowledge on D&I? Similarly, ESG, environment, society and governance. In business, everybody’s talking about this.

Given what ASU is about, given the access mission, given we take responsibility for our community, we need to be leaders in ESG. So we are launching major initiatives and centers around ESG. We need to be leaders in education around ESG, in both degree and non-degree. Like certificates and leaders in research, creating knowledge around that. We are particularly interested in three industries here in the Sun Valley. These are the semiconductor industry — very significant industry around here — healthcare industry, again, highly significant. We have a strong collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. And the real estate industry. There is a boom in real estate here in Phoenix following the migration of businesses and individuals. And we are here to become the national leaders in that space. Add to that, supply chain has been a strength of W.P. Carey. We are going to hone that and develop that.

We are going to develop centers and activities around what we call resilience. Basically, how do we recover after a shock? How do we prepare better for the next shock, talking about the pandemic?

And finally, a major initiative is going to be around a global engagement. We are already a global school. We have very successful executive MBA program in China. Number nine in the world by Financial Times. We also have a DBA program and a master of management program in China, so we have strong operations in China, very successful programs. We want to venture into other locations like India, Middle East, Africa, Latin America. So we have big plans on making education accessible, not only in Phoenix or nationally, but also globally.

So these are some kind of major initiatives. We have a few more, but this gives you enough I think.

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