In the first CurrentlyMAYS session, the four deans of Mays Business School discussed current events from their various perspectives. Most of their conversation with students centered on a case study using Mays as a business model. The players were Dean Eli Jones as CEO, Executive Associate Dean Duane Ireland as COO, and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Arvind Mahajan and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Martha Loudder as division heads.
Moderator Sandra Lampo, a clinical associate professor of marketing, said any successful business requires all the various disciplines. Jones concurred, and said, “This is one of the most complicated businesses I have encountered. There is usually a clear line of sight to the ultimate customer. What makes this business exciting and a challenge is there is not clear single customer.”
Some customers include the Texas Legislature, which helps fund the school financially; students who are enrolled; parents who are invested; prospective employers; faculty and staff who support the programs; the Texas A&M University campus; and the state of Texas.
“Professors and administrators are in the business of knowledge,” Loudder said. “In our business, we create new knowledge through research. Each of us start as professors with a narrow, technical expertise in our own fields. But as we advance in our careers and moved into administrative positions, we have understand the big picture and broaden our horizons to better understand other fields.”
The deans advised students that they can stay current by keeping with news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Mahajan suggested reading news from outlets that give different political perspectives than his own. “It will force you to challenge your own biases, opinions and beliefs.”
Ireland added: “Find one or two news sources in which you have great confidence and read those often. Soon you’ll pick up on the cadence of the writing and be able to efficiently process the things you are reading.”
Ireland also recommended that the students increase the breadth of individuals with whom they interact. “In management, we talk a lot about strong and weak ties. We value strong ties as our close relationships with others, but even weak ties can be valuable opportunities through which you can have sporadic interaction with people different from yourself.”
Junior finance major Andrew Hitscherich said he appreciated that the deans took time to share their wisdom with students and their vision for transformational leaders at Mays. “I’m looking forward to seeing where Mays is headed,” he said.
Senior PPA and business student Sarah Burns said the deans inspired her and other students to pursue a global, well-rounded mindset. She said she appreciated the cross-functional education at Mays. “We have incredible leaders at all levels behind the scenes of Mays’ success,” she said. “It was really special that the deans took the time to answer our questions, ask for our input, and discuss with us one on one.”