Vanderbilt Business

From the Dean

From the Dean, Spring 2012 | Comments | Print Print |

Dean BradfordI’m pleased to report that Owen—as many of you already know—placed 25th in the latest MBA rankings published by U.S. News & World Report this past March. That showing marks our second-highest ranking in the history of this important survey and reflects the hard work and dedication of many in the Owen community. Together we have built great momentum for the school that I believe will soon put us in the top 20.

Whether you tend to agree with rankings or not, they are an important driver of applications, our hiring ability, and frankly, alumni engagement. That said, they’re far from perfect.

Beyond the well-documented cases of schools in various disciplines gaming the system—or in some cases, simply providing false data—rankings will never be able to tell the full story of a school. As I’ve discovered, GMATs and GPAs tell you very little about the individuals who ultimately emerge as strong, ethical leaders.

As a business school dean, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the rankings race. While I fully intend to continue to compete vigorously, as we move forward you should know this: 1) The greater good of Owen will always come before rankings; and 2) No matter how high we climb, there will never be a quantitative measure that can capture leadership, determination and a commitment to purposes beyond ourselves—all qualities that, to me, mark Owen students and alumni.

In that spirit, allow me to highlight several pieces in this issue of Vanderbilt Business, starting with the cover story about Brent Turner, MBA’99. As you’ll see, Brent is often humorously self-effacing. But working alongside him, one soon discovers that he’s a masterful relationship builder, putting the right people and the smart strategies in place to get a job done. He’s also a doer who is unafraid to set lofty goals and then follow through on them with great dignity and determination. We’re lucky to have him as such an active alumnus and productive partner.

Elsewhere in the magazine, Alex Nicholson, EMBA’01, tells the story of how and why he decided to pursue a business degree in his 50s after years spent running his family’s business. And Linus Hall, EMBA’00, will make you thirsty for more after reading about his experience starting and growing Yazoo Brewing Co.

There’s also a report on innovative work happening at Owen, including the  groundbreaking new rule for measuring and capturing customer loyalty created by Professor Bruce Cooil and alumnus Tim Keiningham, MBA’89. In addition, you’ll read about an exciting new Silicon Valley endeavor that’s being started by two soon-to-be Owen grads, Mahni Ghorashi and Ilya Tokhner.

These stories help showcase the incredible vibrancy of the entire Owen community, from current students to our world-class faculty and administration to our invaluable alumni. For me, this is the soul of Owen—something no ranking could ever measure.

Innovation in education, much like in business, originates from intellectual curiosity—from asking “Why not?” and “What if?” in a structured and often empirical way. At Owen, our innovation is sparked by a business world that is always evolving. This can be seen in the unique and powerful ways in which our faculty’s research addresses specific needs brought to us by the business community. It’s also evident in the program creation that has taken place at Owen during the past six years.
Programs like the MS Finance, Master of Accountancy and Master of Management in Health Care are all products of resource- and market-based opportunities, creative thought and a willingness to act. Likewise the new Americas MBA for Executives, which is the topic of this issue’s cover story, arose from the need to provide students, particularly those who are seeking assignments in the Western Hemisphere, with a better understanding of global business.
By building innovative programs such as these, we’re able to expand our brand and product offering, while also attracting applicants who are valued by the employment market both in good economic times and bad. Years of experience and observation have taught me that the only real sustainable competitive advantage in business is to surround yourself with the best and brightest. Education is no different. A school like ours can maintain a successful path only if it’s able to attract, hire and matriculate exceptionally talented individuals.
The programs you read about in this issue of Vanderbilt Business illustrate the great strides we’ve made, but there’s still much work to be done. To compete with other schools, we must find the resources to continue bringing the best students and faculty to Owen. Your support is the key to our success, and I hope that we can continue counting on it in the months and years to come.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Bradford signature

James W. Bradford
Dean, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
Ralph Owen Professor of Management

photo credit: John Russell

Leave a Reply

Previous Issues RSS Feed Send Us Your News About Vanderbilt Business Owen Website Vanderbilt Business