Author: Dean Mark Taylor


About Dean Mark Taylor

Dean Mark Taylor joined Olin Business School on Dec. 1, 2016. He is one of the most frequently cited researchers in the areas of international finance and monetary economics in the world. He has served as an economist at the IMF and Bank of England; and as an investment fund manager for Barclays (now BlackRock). Previously, he was Dean at Warwick Business School, UK, and a professor of economics at Oxford among other European universities and a visiting professor at NYU. He is enjoying getting to know St. Louis (and its great restaurants). Follow Mark on Twitter at @DeanTaylorWashU.

Triple accreditation illustration.

Suppose you could invite three world-class consultants into your business to review your operations and provide a dispassionate review of the progress toward your goals. All three are recognized leaders in their field. They’re peers you regard highly.

Would you do it?

That is how I view a rigorous, challenging—and ultimately rewarding—process underway now at WashU Olin Business School. It’s called triple accreditation, and a veritable army of staff and faculty at the school have contributed to making it happen.

The idea is straightforward: We’re seeking certification from the three top accreditation bodies in business school education in the world—the US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the UK-based Association of MBAs and the European Foundation for Management Development’s Quality Improvement System or EQUIS.

When we earn triple accreditation, Olin will hold elite status among more than 13,000 business schools around the world: Only 90 have earned the so-called “triple crown.”

Why go to the trouble?

Given that, some may wonder: Why bother? Why open ourselves to intrusive oversight and regulation? I don’t view it that way at all, and I have two reasons.

First, I’ve stood now on both sides of the process. I’m on my second tour as a business school dean, inviting reviewers to evaluate programmes. My previous institution holds the triple crown today. But I’ve also been the reviewer, invited to interview staff and faculty, stakeholders, university chancellors, provosts and members of national councils. I’ve also served on the board of the AACSB.

I understand how the process works. When we seek accreditation, we’re actually seeking affirmation that we are doing what we say we’re doing. At Olin, we have articulated clear standards through our pillars of excellence: Are we providing a values-based, data-driven education; offering experiential learning; establishing an appreciation for global business; and instilling a mindset of entrepreneurship and innovation?

“Accreditation is tied to our strategic plan. It’s not just a piece of paper. We are teaching this,” says Ohad Kadan, vice dean for education and globalization, who is leading our charge. “In our reports to the accreditation agencies, we have this assurance of learning, measuring the extent to which we’re delivering on what we say we’re going to teach every day.”

He has worked closely with every professor, on every class, to make sure each class is delivering on at least one of our strategic pillars. We’re evaluating student learning to ensure the message is heard. And we’re proving to the accreditation bodies that we’re meeting the standards we have set for ourselves.

Sending a message to the world

The second reason I’m keen on this achievement is the message I believe it will send. As I mentioned, 90 business schools have achieved this milestone. Many are among the world’s elite—London Business School, INSEAD, ESADE and HEC Paris, for example.

We’ll be the first US-based school listed in the Financial Times top 100 to achieve the triple crown.

We have burnished our reputation as a global program. More than 70% of our BSBAs had a global experience last year. Our MBA global immersion plants us squarely as the most global full-time MBA in the world. So, the prospect of donning the triple crown sends a signal: We are an international school, and we want our internationalism recognized.

“It’s a way for us to get to know schools we might want to partner with in the future—and to start building those relationships,” says Shannon Reid, Olin’s strategic initiatives analyst, spearheading the massive task of compiling and presenting the data. “It will also give faculty throughout the world a different perspective on what our programs are about.”

We set our vision. We say what we aim to achieve. In our case, our vision is world-changing business education, research and impact. We embed that vision into our programmes and gauge our results. We invite world-class “consultants” to provide feedback on whether we’re achieving that vision. The accreditation bodies hold us accountable for the standards we have set for ourselves.

And that is why we are seeking—and intend to achieve—triple accreditation. We should know more by the end of 2020.

Pictured above: An Olin-led executive education class underway at Brookings in our newly expanded space.

The roots of executive education run deep in St. Louis and in Washington, DC, at our partner, The Brookings Institution. They’re about to run deeper.

In St. Louis, our expertise in executive education runs back at least to 1955, when Lee M. Liberman wrote to a colleague about a faculty-led management seminar he’d attended as a 34-year-old. Liberman later served four decades on the WashU’s board of trustees alongside two chancellors.

Also, in the late ’50s, Brookings launched two-week conferences aimed at “men of high caliber at the executive level,” according to a journal writeup at the time. Jointly, Olin and Brookings have partnered for years on leadership and management education in DC, taught by Olin faculty.

Although we’re already highly ranked globally for executive education—12th in the nation and 32nd worldwide, according to the Financial Times—we know we can lead further on the strengths we already have.

Leveraging our unique partnership with Brookings, we’ve created a joint organization that deeply entwines Olin’s research-based leadership in executive education with the global policy and economic expertise at the world’s premier think-tank. We’ve already rebranded the existing program as WashU at Brookings. We envision the relationship growing further still.

“The leaders of the future need to be able to navigate a set of questions that Brookings brings to the table,” said Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and the Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education at WashU Olin. Based at Brookings, commuting between DC and St. Louis, she is charged with unifying and expanding executive education operations in both locations.

As Kelly sees it, Brookings sits at the nexus of business, governmental policy and social impact. “That’s the sweet spot where we want to be able to help leaders in their organizations: How can that integration impact their own organizations?”

At the same time, our St. Louis-based operation continues to draw business from corporate partners eager for access to our expertise on leadership development, change management and strategic alignment our faculty experts can provide. Sam Chun, assistant dean and director of executive education, is about to depart for the Netherlands, for example, to begin delivering Olin’s first international exec ed program in leadership development for Rabobank, a Dutch multinational financial services firm.

Other new partners for Olin exec ed include distribution service provider Bunzl Distribution, pharmaceutical maker Pfizer, and AB InBev—which was attracted by the closer connection and program potential of our Brookings relationship. “We’re designing the program with AB InBev as we speak,” Sam said.

“That’s key,” Sam says. We don’t simply build programs and hope executives show up in the classroom. “We ask the market and design a program for them. And because of that, they come.”

With a deeper connection to Brookings, we anticipate DC-based policy experts leading courses for executives in St. Louis, with content delivered either in person or through our Center for Digital Education. Likewise, we see a world with expanded content from Olin faculty in St. Louis offered to executives in the DC area.

Those issues align deeply with Olin’s own DNA, focused as we are on values-based, data-driven decision-making in a global context and equipping leaders with the tools to change the world, for good. It’s just a bonus that the nation’s top CEOs, through the influential Business Roundtable, are coming around to our way of thinking about executive leadership.

“I think the historical connection between Brookings and WashU makes this so effective,” Kelly said.

Our focus on executive education isn’t new, but it’s more important today than ever. We all thrive when, as Olin deans realized decades ago, we serve the needs of corporate partners, bringing the latest business research into the boardroom. It also remains an important part of Olin’s mission of lifelong learning.

It’s the future of executive education—and WashU Olin is leading the way.

Pictured above: An Olin-led executive education class underway at Brookings in our newly expanded space.

Lungile Tshuma, MBA

Now a few days from completing the ‘round-the-world global immersion our first-year MBA students began in late June, I’ve made a few observations, picked up a few impressions and heard from a few students. They’re the basis for this month’s column.

I’ll start with a particularly poignant moment I was fortunate to witness at the students’ closing dinner in Barcelona on July 23. As they prepared to decamp for China, Lungile Tshuma rose to offer a toast.

His toast both celebrated the diversity of our latest class of first-year MBA students and affirmed an important goal of the programme: fostering strong bonds among them.

With this new format, we also hoped to distinguish our programme — and, by extension, our students — with a unique focus. Launching the students on a 38-day study of international business from day one carried some risk, but we’ve seen the payoff.

Our faculty, for example, have already spoken about the deep bench this opportunity has attracted. We knew this challenge would attract a certain category and quality of student and on that score, we believe it has already succeeded.

As Senior Associate Dean Patrick Moreton, a chief organizer of the programme, recently told the students, “You’re absorbing and engaging with the environment in a way we’ve never seen before. You’re doing a great job and while you might not be seeing it, we’re feeling good about the learning outcomes we’re getting.”

That dovetails with reports I’ve heard from diversity organizations we support such as Forté and The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, where prospective employers were pulling aside our students to ask what drew them to the programme and how it had fared for them so far.

It also dovetails with a personal desire I have harboured for this experience: watching leaders emerge. By definition, this experience was built to “disorient” students and create a global foundation for their future core classes. In each locale, our class includes at least one person who can call that country home and I was eager to hear how they’d respond.

Thus, classmates like Aurora Chen, Frank Chen, Flora Feng, Zach Frantz and others could help organize social events, dinners and provide medical experts while in China.

Beyond these isolated leadership moments, however, I’ve also been gratified to hear from partners we’ve worked with — including the Gramona and Pere Ventura wineries in Barcelona — who have appreciated and valued the business insights shared by our students, even at this early stage in their business school education.

Many of our students have also been forthcoming with feedback throughout their journey, which has led to adjustments in schedules, workloads and assignments Throughout. One such example is that the faculty was making adjustments to accommodate more field experiences in the Shanghai community.

As the first students to embark on this experience at Olin, I’m grateful they’re actively participating as we iterate on the go. I’m truly looking forward to greeting our newly “disoriented” and “globalized” first-year students — whom Lungile has described as “diversely one” — when they return stateside next week.

Pictured above: Lungile Tshuma, MBA ’21, toasting the diversity of the current class of first-year students during the final day celebration of their time in Barcelona.

Ron King and Stephen Ryan.

I wanted to share about exciting career milestones for two of our faculty members, Ron King and Stephen Ryan

Professor Ron King has been a member of the Olin faculty since 1986 and is a highly respected and accomplished teacher and researcher. Since 2003, Professor King has served as the Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting where he contributed actively to the body of research in field of accounting.

Ron King

A few months back, Ron approached Vice Dean Todd Milbourn and me to share the news that while he would like to continue teaching in Olin’s Executive MBA Program, he would like to relinquish his chair to focus more of his energies on his entrepreneurial pursuits in the St. Louis startup community.

While at Washington University, Professor King has taught accounting courses in the undergraduate, MBA, and masters of accounting programs, and has held various administrative positions including senior associate dean of faculty, senior associate dean of programs and the director of the Center for Experiential Learning. Ron received the Distinguished Faculty Award at Washington University’s Founder’s Day in 2012. He received his PhD from the University of Arizona.

Given the importance of entrepreneurship to Olin’s strategic plan and also the St. Louis ecosystem, I am delighted that Ron will be employing his considerable talents to build businesses and make our city more economically vibrant. I am also pleased that he will continue to teach at Olin, as he is one of our very beloved teachers as well as a distinguished researcher.

Stephen Ryan

At the same, time, I am excited to recognize the contributions and research leadership of Stephen Ryan, professor of economics, by appointing him as the next holder of the Myron Northrop Professorship. Professor Ryan received his PhD in economics from Duke University in 2005 and joined Olin in 2016.

The Myron Northrop Professorship was established with a gift from Mr. Northrop’s estate in 1989. Born in Oklahoma and reared in Little Rock, Arkansas, Mr. Northrop spent most of his career at A.S. Aloe Surgical Supply Company of St. Louis. He received a bachelor’s in business administration from Washington University in 1926.

We join in thanking the Northrop Family for their support for Olin faculty research. We also congratulate Ron King on this new phase in his career and Stephen Ryan for his accomplishments. We will be in touch with plans for a formal installation ceremony for Professor Ryan in the 2019-20 academic year.

“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.” Shakespeare’s phrase, from The Winter’s Tale, sums up the challenge that faces tomorrow’s business leaders. To compete in a global marketplace, one must cultivate a global perspective. Tourism won’t cut it. Deeper global experience is required.

Last week, the 2021 cohort of full-time MBA students arrived at WashU Olin. Today, they’re more than halfway through their orientation, four days from embarking on a journey of “disorientation” across three continents, immersed in a rigorous, hands-on curriculum as global business leaders additionally address real-world business problems.

It is a bold step for the students and—as a number of other schools are choosing to end their full-time MBA programmes—a bold step for Olin. But as a key character notes in Henry IV, Part I, “the blood more stirs to rouse a lion than to start a hare.”

The programme has come a long way since I first introduced it in this space back in September. A long list of Olin team members have contributed to bringing this vision to life, starting with Ohad Kadan, Patrick Moreton, Ashley Macrander, Hayley Huffman and Rachel Tolliver, have spent untold hours planning down the smallest detail.

We’ve learned from a spring break pilot to Barcelona and Shanghai with nearly 100 students. And now it’s underway for the newest class of first-year students.

Around the world in 38 days

On Sunday, the entire cohort arrives at WashU Olin’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Their agenda includes courses with business and government policy experts at the world-renowned Brookings Institution, with whom we enjoy a unique partnership. They’ll begin courses with Andrew Knight focused on impactful teamwork and with Cathy Dunkin on effective communications—courses that carry through the entire trip.

A week later, the cohort moves to Barcelona for a two-week dive into European business and an immersion into Iberian culture. They’ll take courses with Sam Chun and Peter Boumgarden in general management, working with regional vineyards on an analysis of go-to-market strategies.

The students finish with 17 days in China. After a couple of days for sightseeing in Beijing, the cohort spends the next two weeks on two courses. Daniel Elfenbein and Anne Marie Knott work with students on a market-entry problem with St. Louis’s Strange Donuts, which has considered opening in the Chinese market. Then, Fuqiang Zhang and Lingxiu Dong teach an international business operations course as students examine the distribution and manufacturing practices of local and global brands.

Through it all, WashU students will gain a foundational understanding of effective teamwork and values-based, data-driven decision-making. Combining ethical decision making with highly analytic empirical analysis—key hallmarks of business education at WashU Olin.

With more than a month abroad from the outset, these students have embarked on arguably the most global full-time MBA programme in the world. But that’s not the only enhancement we made as we overhauled the full-time MBA.

Flexibility—with rigor

For career-switchers, the traditional two-year MBA may continue to be the right choice. They are turning their careers in a new direction and they value the foundational education, the time to engage with our career services professionals and the chance to test themselves in a summer internship.

But career enhancers—looking for a leap forward in a career they already love—want the content in less time and for as little opportunity cost as possible. They need an accelerated programme that skips the internship. They don’t want “MBA lite.” They want “MBA intensive,” in an abbreviated timeframe, and that’s what WashU Olin has created with the new accelerated full-time MBA.

The new 14-month programme skips the internship and provides the same rigor, the same credit-hours, the same classroom and peer-to-peer experiences as the full-time, two-year programme. Yet students will emerge eight months earlier, prepared to take a giant leap forward in their careers.

Or, if they wish, they can build additional expertise by pairing a specialized master’s degree in business analytics —”big data” — with their full-time MBA. They’ll work on both programmes concurrently and earn two complementary business school degrees in 26 months.

At a time of change and introspection across the business-education spectrum, we are not done innovating in our full-time MBA programme. The Olin Business School team is working to add alternative destinations to the global immersion that will benefit more students, for example.

For our newest class of WashU Olin global MBA students, you might say the programme makes their “blood more stir.”