Connecting the Dots

Perhaps my greatest strength as Dean is that I have had a varied career that touches on every aspect of a running a college. I have been first and foremost, a faculty member, teaching students, conducting research and providing service to my institution and profession. I have been the director of three different programs including one overseas. I have directed two different centers, been a department chair and served as associate dean. I have restructured advising centers, lead student engagement initiatives, redesigned curriculum, raised funds, and run operations.   This variety of experiences has helped me connect the dots…to see potential connections across diverse sets of activities and operations that create synergies, provide greater focus and increase yields from our efforts.

An example: When I came to the college, we had a very nascent and compartmentalized approach to how we dealt with the outside world. I had a director of communications, a director of development, and a director of alumni relations. Although these people were housed in the same area, they never met as a group and they never coordinated their efforts. So we would have separate “alumni events” and “development events” and “communication events,” with the outcome of these efforts reported to different supervisors at different locations throughout the University.

Today, we have an office of external relations that comprises communication, corporate and community relations, development, and alumni relations. We don’t do separate events for these audiences…we do “external relations events” and communicate about “external activities.” This is done in a team setting, where there is joint ownership of the planning, execution and outcome of these activities. The results of these collaborations have been dramatic: our visibility in the community has increased many fold, attendance at all our events is up, corporate sponsorships are up, and fund raising is positioned for a big increase this year.

Similarly, we do not have separate advising, career services and student engagement offices in the College. We have a new Office of Professional Development that is charged with all of these activities because they are connected and reinforce each other. We don’t see “advising issues” or “career services issues”, we see “student development” issues. Sometimes the external relations team meets with the professional development team to ensure that the connection among these activities are exploited and strengthened to the benefit of both functions. This involves things like the Cornerstone and Case Competitions, as well as the Joust. The result has been more robust events with higher sponsorship and student engagement.

Our integrated business degree is designed to help you do the same thing in organizations of any size. You will not see “finance problems” or “marketing problems”….these by their very definition require “finance” and “marketing” solutions. Instead, you will see “business problems” that may involve marketing and finance solutions, as well as management, accounting, or economics responses. An ability to connect the dots leads to big payoffs for organizations and fast-rising careers for the integrators.   Become an integrator and connect the dots to a great career.

2 thoughts on “Connecting the Dots

  1. I totally agree with this. During my 25 years in the corporate world I made it my business to know what was going on in all aspects of the organization. That knowledge enabled me to be a valued member of the management team when seeking solutions to entity-wide as well as activity-specific issues.

  2. Well said! Having enough experience and knowledge in all areas of business also keeps people (whether outside contractors, strategic partners, investors, or new employees) from “BSing you”. You’re also more effectively able to translate concepts explained by a person in one area of business (marketing) to someone in another area of business (finance) in a way they can better understand or resonate with to get to solutions derived through cross-disciplinary collaboration faster.

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