Does the M.B.A. still matter?
I’m the dean of the business school, so yes, the M.B.A. still matters.
Do you believe there has been progress when it comes to real meaningful diversity and inclusion and opportunities for Black men and women over the last many years at corporate America?
The data speaks for themselves. There hasn’t been a lot of progress if you look at the sheer number of Black C.E.O.s or Blacks within one or two reporting relationships of the C.E.O. Why is that the case? I think it’s the case that we haven’t fully prioritized it as much as we have talked about it. And the two are very, very different.
In 2020 following the killing of George Floyd, the galvanizing efforts of C.E.O.s and executives is unlike anything that I had ever seen before. The question is how much of what we saw this summer was a reaction to his killing, versus how much of that will be a sustained effort to really think about the ways in which organizations recruit and attract and develop and promote and compensate Black professionals. Time will tell.
Do you ever feel like you’ve had to work twice as hard, or that there have been obstacles as a result of your gender or race?
Of course. But one of the interesting things that I’ve been grappling with is how much of that is pressure that I put on myself, versus how much of that is pressure that I actually have felt from other people. I don’t have the answers, but I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself with the belief that I had to be that much better, that there was no room for error or mistake. It sort of drives me in ways that has obviously led to opportunities that are quite extraordinary.
How do you expect Wharton will change during your tenure?
I don’t think we can just assume that because we’re Wharton we can just rest on our laurels and say, we’ll always be safe. We have to be mindful that our competition is not just other business schools. Our competition is complacency, and when you’re the best, it is very easy to become complacent. So one of the things that I hope that my tenure as dean will do is to motivate us to think about how do we want to define business education in the future, and not only rely on what we’ve done in the past.
I think the fact that I’m Wharton’s first female dean means there are likely going to be differences in how I engage with our alumni and with our students and with our faculty that are reflective of who I am as a woman at this level in business education. There just aren’t a lot of us.