Everyone is wondering how we will fare through this recession and beyond. As our students struggle with the real-world challenges they will face upon graduation, it occurs to me that, at least in an academic sense, this recession is one of the greatest teaching and learning opportunities that our faculty and students could have. The challenging economic climate has given all of us a window to rethink curriculums as well as business practices and policy changes in Washington, D.C.—the center of many of the international economic debates and initiatives.
Over the past year, we have heard a range of opinions about the missteps that individuals, the government and the business community—especially the financial and banking sectors—have taken and whether those actions contributed to the recession. For business educators it has been a year of debate and soul-searching as to how we may have contributed and how we can help in the future.
The most frequent suggestions are that business schools should:
- emphasize ethics, sustainability and corporate governance—areas in which GWSB is already a leader;
- spearhead a movement to establish business as a profession with a code and oath modeled after those of law and medicine; and
- encourage more students to become entrepreneurs and create their own jobs, or to consider government or nonprofit jobs, as old-economy opportunities vaporize daily.
These are all worthy ideas, and the dialogue and the changes they inspire will continue. Wherever these notions lead, the only certainty is that we will all be dealing with rapid, often unpredictable, change. Professor James Bailey, Department of Management chair and Tucker Professorial Fellow of Leadership, has deep expertise in change management. In our “Best Practices” feature on page 24, Bailey explains his view that all change is a form of loss—even if it is the loss of a familiar misery.
As for the creation of jobs, just as high-speed intercity trains are replacing the cars that filled in for the buggies of our great grandparents, our continuously evolving curriculums will help students prepare for the ever-changing workplace. GWSB graduates will become tomorrow’s leading professionals—in public, private and government jobs that often didn’t even exist five or 10 years ago. On page 12 of this issue of GWbusiness, we are spotlighting three of our recent grads who have become leading sustainability executives.
Our cover story explores the pioneering work some of our alumni and students are doing through alternative career paths in global economic and social development. And preliminary 2009 employment statistics from our career center show that a little more than 10 percent of our recent graduates have accepted jobs in the nonprofit sector. We expect more of our students to follow in their footsteps in coming years.
At our core, we know that the basic elements that made business school relevant 50 years ago are the same things that make business school relevant today. We teach students to be principled leaders, not just accountants, supply chain experts, bankers, traders or entrepreneurs. As we do that, GW School of Business faculty is putting an increasing emphasis on helping students understand that building and sustaining a career is a lifelong process. You’ll read about our approach to continuous career management in the story about our new undergraduate curriculum, on page 20.
Finally, you will notice an entrepreneurial change to your alumni magazine this issue: advertisements. We have introduced ads in any effort to make the publication self-supporting even while continuing to provide what we hope is a valuable service to our friends and supporters.
Let’s emerge from this recession with new strengths and renewed imagination.
Susan M. Phillips
Dean and Professor of Finance
The George Washington University School of Business