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Dean John Quelch’s Top Three First-Year Objectives:

1.Increase graduate program enrollments. 12% increase [over last year] in graduate program enrollments for the classes entering now.

2.Reboot executive education. Appointed a new executive education director and a new professor in the practice of executive leadership.

3.Improve cost efficiencies. Achieved a $5 million budget turnaround through increased revenues and cost efficiencies.

How Miami Business School Plans to Bolster Its Brand

A Q & A with Dean John Quelch

During his first year at the Miami Business School, Dean John Quelch implemented plenty of changes – not least of which is a major name change for the 89-year-old business school. In addition to the January 2018 rebranding as the Miami Business School, Quelch has embraced a new approach to business education, focusing on giving students maximum choice and flexibility to customize their curriculum via cross-credit recognition and the ability to “forge their own path.”

At the heart of it all? The city of Miami itself. “People like to say, ‘What's it like to move to Miami?’,’” says Quelch, who was previously at Harvard University. “I moved from old America to new America: the demographic shift is palpable and visible, and the growth momentum, obviously, is with the global magnet cities that represent new America. A bet on Miami Business School is a great bet on the future center of gravity of our country and our hemisphere.”

Quelch sat down with BusinessMiami writer Andrea Carneiro.

What kind of investments in faculty and lecturers has the school made?

We're fortunate to have been able to appoint 13 new faculty members starting this year who are joining us from very esteemed institutions such as the business schools of Columbia, Wharton, London, Indiana and Ohio State, to name a few. We also appointed a senior lecturer in entrepreneurship with a Purdue Engineering PhD, whom we expect to jumpstart entrepreneurship on our campus and to build collaborative bridges across the rest of the university, especially with the engineering and medical schools.

You have often used words such as "flexibility" and "customization" when describing your vision for the future; tell us a little about how you're moving that forward. We are increasing the flexibility and modularity of our curriculum so that choice and empowerment for our students is at the forefront of our thinking. We are exploring pathways that enable high-achieving students to move from a BA through the master's degree in four years, as opposed to five. We are also facilitating students who take a specialized master’s in say, business analytics or finance, morphing it into an MBA, and through cross-credit recognition, graduating with both an MS and an MBA in much less time than if they enrolled in the two degree programs separately. All of this is a reflection of our recognition that millennial and Generation Z students are very concerned about forging their own paths and designing their own curricula.

Was there anything that particularly surprised you when you came in as dean?

The combined teaching and research quality at Miami Business School is definitely ahead of where the school is currently ranked. We have to improve further, but we also have to make the business community aware of the quality of what’s already on offer here, both to encourage them to recruit our students and to engage with us in executive education. A large part of my time in the first year has been spent reconnecting the school, and all the good things that our faculty do, to the business community in Greater Miami and South Florida.

Was part of that restructuring executive education?

Absolutely. We're only doing customized, company-specific programs. In a time-challenged environment, many companies do not have the luxury of being able to send critical executives away for weeks on end to Harvard or Stanford for special training. We have developed a series of fast immersion modules, or FIMs, that we've found are very appealing to companies in South Florida.

Once a month, one of our faculty will go to the company and deliver a two-hour FIM to their middle and upper-level managers. The FIM serves as a stimulus for further project work within the corporation. Then, the same faculty member might go back the next month to deliver a follow-up module or hand off to a second faculty member who builds on the foundation of the first module.

So, FIMs enable local Miami companies and Latin American headquarters of multinationals to invest in executive development for their managers at relatively modest cost.

Obviously, we should touch on the rebranding from University of Miami School of Business Administration to Miami Business School. Was that something that you always had in mind? I knew coming in that this would be part of the playbook, but I expected there to be more discussion. The faculty embraced it immediately and saw the logic of reducing our name to three words and putting the most important word, Miami, at the front of the name. In retrospect, it seems so obvious, but sometimes these things just take time to gestate before they can be easily implemented.

Clearly, you see the city itself as a large part of the school’s growth. Miami Business School is well known among long-time South Floridians, but not well-known among new arrivals to the city. Therefore, we have to constantly introduce ourselves to connect with the new, as well as the established, business communities.

Second, we have to make it clear what Miami Business School stands for – not just in terms of student quality, skills and knowledge, but also in terms of our research capabilities. We have done that by delineating five platforms of work that cross disciplines. First is behavioral decision-making, second is business analytics, third is global operations, fourth is governance and leadership, and the fifth is sustainable business. So those are the five overarching areas of research and teaching endeavors where we are placing our bets for the next few years.

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