Business schools tailored by the best

Deans of business schools are pulled from all walks of life, bringing a selection of skills and expertise from a variety of fields


Generally, business school deans are responsible for tailoring students’ lessons to fit both the present and future needs of the international business community. In our changing global market, this often means making bold adjustments to adapt to changing world economies. Paul Danos, dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, says that deans must “create programmes that inspire students to embrace the responsibilities that will be offered to them in their careers.”

Interestingly, being appointed to the position of dean may not require an extensive background in finance, but it usually does require leadership expertise, particularly since a dean will exercise his or her administration over diverse students from a variety of backgrounds, as well as a varied group of tutors and educators. In recent times, many schools have made a shift in their hiring of deans by switching from career financiers to former CEOs.

Sally Blount, dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, was hired as part of this trend. She worked at the Boston Consulting Group for two years, but she has accumulated more academic experience in management than finance. According to Blount, these corporate management skills are a big part of today’s economy. She stated, “It is critical for management education to inspire students, the next generation of business leaders, to think deeply, creatively and boldly about solving the complex, large-scale problems facing our global society.”

Backgrounds of successful business deans
One particularly successful business school dean is Sir Andrew Likierman. Likierman is dean of the London Business School, but he also serves as a non-executive Chairman of the National Audit Office and is a non-executive Director of Barclays Bank. Prior to his appointment as dean, Likierman was a founding director of the Executive MBA programme at LBS and a professor at the school for many years. Before his time in academia, he ran a German textile plant, was head of the Government Accountancy Service and served as Managing Director of the UK Treasury. He received an extensive education, graduating from both the University of Vienna and Oxford University. He went on to receive his FCMA certification and eventually served as a non-executive Director of the Bank of England and President of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Nitin Nohria, the dean of Harvard Business School, is another notable business school administrator. Like Blount, Nohria’s background is primarily in management rather than finance. According to Nohria’s faculty profile at Harvard, his focus has been on “human motivation, leadership, corporate transformation and accountability.” He has co-written and co-edited 16 books about business, including “What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success” and “The Arc of Ambition: Defining the Leadership Journey”. He received his Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. and a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. He also served as visiting faculty member of the London Business School in 1996.