Duane Ireland was born and raised in Lima, Ohio as part of a family of “railroaders.” He has found memories of hearing stories from his great-grandfather about making certain that trains reached their destinations in a timely manner regardless of the challenges encountered, including those of inclement winter weather conditions. For a young boy, these stories conjured images of brave people trying their best to serve others through their work. For Ireland, following in the footsteps of his great grandfather and grandfather to pursue jobs with the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad company was the logical path for him to take as a career choice.
Unexpected circumstances created different possibilities for Ireland, though. Raised by his mother and grandmother, the three of them left Ohio and moved to Amarillo, TX where his mother and grandmother began working at the Amarillo Air Force base. Ireland entered the seventh grade at this time. He continued with music, playing the clarinet, saxophone, and piano. He started playing these instruments at a young age as a result of influences from his grandmother and great grandmother, both of whom thought that being a musician would be a wonderful life for their grandson and great grandson.
Being a First-Generation Student
Ireland’s family encouraged him strongly to become the first among them to attend college. This strong support was instrumental in his decision to pursue a college-level education. Although involved deeply with music through his high school days, he did not desire to pursue music as a college major, concluding that he lacked the passion (and the talent!) to become a professional musician. Because of his developing interest in understanding how some organizations are able to serve stockholders and societies effectively, he decided to major in management at Texas Tech University as an undergraduate student. “I really enjoyed studying management and its role in organizations’ success. Because of this, I decided to remain at Tech to pursue my MBA degree,” Ireland said.
With a master’s degree in hand, Ireland accepted a position as a strategic planner for a regional government agency serving the Lubbock, TX area. He enjoyed this work, both from the perspective of helping people as well as from trying to understand why some agencies were more successful than others.
Wanting to learn more about factors leading to organizational success caused Ireland to return to Texas Tech to pursue his PhD. Focusing on strategic management and entrepreneurship, he accepted a position as an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University (OSU) following completion of the terminal degree. Ireland noted that “my time at OSU was wonderful in that I worked with terrific colleagues, one of whom—Mike Hitt–became a career-long collaborator.” While their paths diverged for a while, Ireland and Hitt found themselves both working in Mays Business School beginning in 2004. In addition to spending six years at OSU, Ireland held appointments at Baylor University (17 years) and the University of Richmond (four years) prior to becoming an Aggie.
Scholarship as a Critical Part of His Career
An active researcher, Ireland’s scholarship finds him examining questions related to strategic entrepreneurship, merger and acquisition success, and organizational learning routines, among other topics. Over the years, he served in many editorial positions including a three-year term as editor of the Academy of Management Journal. He also served as the 69th president of the Academy of Management. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society and is a university distinguished professor at Texas A&M University. He is a recipient of an Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award for research.
Throughout his career, Ireland has held numerous leadership positions, beginning with an initial term as head of the department of management at Baylor. At Mays Business School, his leadership positions are those of Head of the Department of Management, Executive Associate Dean, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, Acting Dean, and now Interim Dean. “I am honored by the opportunities I have had to serve students, staff, faculty, and other stakeholders in various leadership roles. In each instance, my commitment has been and is to work as hard and as effectively as possible to be a good steward of the trust that others place in me,” Ireland said.
Service as Interim Dean
Ireland says the following to describe his leadership philosophy: “I believe very strongly that collaborating to integrate our efforts allows us to rely on synergy as a means of creating value for those we seek to serve.” In his view, synergistic collaborations are the foundation through which Mays can create value for its students and for the entire university community. As Interim Dean, Ireland recognizes the abundance of talent among Mays Business School’s students, staff, faculty, and supporters. By relying on this talent, he is confident that Mays Business School’s best days are to come. “I am very proud to be an Aggie and to be a part of Mays Business School and Texas A&M University. Truly, the possibilities in front of us are endless and incredibly exciting. I look forward to what I know will be a fascinating and highly-productive time for us in the years to come,” he said.