What is it like to be Dean of a Business School?

What does a typical day as a business school dean look like? What are some of the challenging parts of the role? What are the most exciting/interesting components?

Professor David Buisson - Former Dean, School of Business, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Being a Dean of an Internationally Networked Business School involves interaction with Students, Faculty, Administration, the community (business, public and government) and international partners so no day is ever the same and all days can be interesting and different.

Students are the most enjoyable part of the interaction - developing and challenging them to be the best, opening their eyes to opportunities in internships, exchanges, case competitions, international degree opportunities and career development. Along with this is supervising Masters and PhD students all of whom I maintain contact with to this day.

Faculty can be a challenge as they differ widely and understanding each of them and getting the best from them is a great challenge. Motivating faculty to develop their research, create new degrees and ongoing developing of their career is second only to the enjoyment of developing students. The faculty are part of your reputation in the Business School world and encouraging teaching and research excellence allows you to develop knowledge about many things. A challenging part of the job is assessing faculty for promotion and guiding them to obtain promotion. Keeping faculty motivated and challenging them is a key part of the job.

A Business School must contribute to the community and has a key role in the development of business. Interacting with the business world, addressing business meetings, sitting on boards and government entities all are fun and give satisfaction in assisting in developing the communities and country. A significant pleasure here is interacting with the Maori community in NZ and assisting in its social and economic development.

Internationally the Business School of Otago has prestigious university exchanges and sit in the PIM network of over 50 top Business Schools. A key job of the Dean is maintaining these relationships and developing new ones; recruiting top international faculty; addressing top international conferences to develop the School’s reputation; recruiting top international students and setting up international internships for students.

The role the Business School plays in the strategy of the University is a key role of the Dean representing the School at the Vice Chancellor Management Group, representing the School academically on senate and interacting with the Student Union. A Dean has the potential to strongly influence the positioning of the Business School in the University, country and internationally.

Life as a Dean is never dull, it is often extremely challenging and critically it requires people management; academic vision; student insight; external relationship management skills and a vision and direction for the School. Being a Dean was one of the greatest jobs that I had in my career.