Top Executives Bring Their Expertise to CSOM Classes

Top Executives Bring Their Expertise to CSOM Classes

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

An innovative Carroll School of Management program brings the experience and skills of top-level business executives directly into Boston College's classrooms and advising halls, and organizers report that the new venture has paid immediate dividends to students and mentors alike.

Robert S. Duboff , a former executive at Ernst & Young, talks with Carroll School of Management students (L-R) Karen Kegel, Casey Stanley and Elizabeth Lizardi. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Introduced last summer by CSOM Dean Helen Frame Peters and CSOM Advisory Board member John C. Krause, the Executive-in-Residence Program has become an instant success, with three top-level business practitioners joining the Carroll School community for the first semester and more seeking to take part in the future.

"A lot of people who have been successful want to give something back," said Peters, herself a former Wall Street investment and money manager who became the CSOM dean in 2000. "There are many, many successful people out there who want to do something different."

The benefits of the program are not a one-way street, according to visiting executives.

"I am not quite ready to retire," said Robert S. Duboff, a marketing consultant and former vice president of business development for Ernst & Young, "and I wanted to be a part of a university, possibly transitioning into a faculty or administrator position. I am really enjoying the opportunity to teach and meet students. I am very impressed with the practical marketing acumen that I see in the students here."

Joining Duboff in the inaugural group of resident executives was Doug Kleinmann, a former vice-president and computer laboratory director at Mitsubishi Corp., and Thomas Lucey, who was chief operating officer at Putnam Investments.

John Faye, an executive education specialist who was a principal at Mercer Consulting, has joined the group this semester, and other high-ranking business executives have expressed interest in participating in the future, according to Krause, a former human resources executive and career consultant who is the program's executive director.

Krause said the resident executives have filled such roles as classroom guest lecturers, class advisors, project facilitators and network contacts for the students. In return, the executives get a taste of the academic side of the management world and a chance to refresh their own energies before going back into the corporate venue, he said.

"We have invited some senior-level executives to do a 'sabbatical' at Boston College," Krause explained. "We look for executives who are in career transition, and give them an opportunity to be a part of the BC community. The time at Boston College is useful in helping the executives to determine what they want to do next.

"The executives in residence are giving back to our students," Krause said. "They are the right people to answer students' questions: For example, 'What does an investment banker or a venture capitalist really do?'"

Peters said, "It is especially important for a business school to make the intersection between the framework and the practical. If we only teach framework, students ask, 'How relevant is it?' If the curriculum is mainly practicum, they say, 'How does it all come together?'

"Having these executives on board adds a level of richness to the Carroll School. Their commitment makes for courses that are much more special for our students."

Duboff, who taught a CSOM course in basic marketing in the first semester, says he and his fellow executives have been similarly enriched by the experience. "I am getting to meet a whole new set of people," said Duboff, citing the University's Chief Executives Club, which regularly brings together business leaders across the Greater Boston area. "The warmth of the entire community has been just exceptional."

Kleinmann, who has been working with CSOM's computer science faculty to develop a strategic plan to increase the department's research funding, has also participated in panels and advising sessions for students. "We talk a lot about the business climate and what we had encountered in our business forays into the 'real world,'" he said.

Speaking from his technology background, Kleinmann said, "There is more and more data in people's lives. We want to help students not just organize data, but present the organized data in an effective way that is convincing to other people.

"Most of this group [of students] will be hired for staff positions where they will be asked to crunch through a lot of data. They can do that, but it is no good unless you can convince your company higher-ups how it can be best implemented."

Peters said, "Our faculty members have been very welcoming to our executives. This program has exceeded our expectations in every way. We are looking to broaden our association with these companies in the future."


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