Tests of Time

Three schools that made bold moves in 2001 offer updates on their progress, lessons they’ve learned, and plans they have for the future.
Tests of Time

BizEd is not the only one in the industry reaching the ten-year milestone. Many significant businesss school initiatives are as well. When administrators contemplate a ten-year-old program, what aspects seem most important? What adjustments do they think made a difference? What has been the evidence of success? Representatives from the three schools featured here are answering those questions as they look back on the ten-year histories of their initiatives.

In 2001, New York University’s Stern School of Business, HEC Paris, and the London School of Economics and Political Science first joined forces to launch TRIUM, their collaborative EMB program that integrates economic, political, and social policy.

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia also took a leap across the United States to start a second campus in San Francisco, California.

The Indian School of Business made perhaps the biggest leap of all—launching its entire enterprise. One of BizEd’s very first feature discussed the creation of ISB, whose Hyderabad campus was inaugurated in June 2001. The school was formed when a number of American citizens of Indian heritage, executives, faculty, and multinational corporations worked together to create a globally focused, culturally sensitive, Western-style institution.

There was something about starting a new business school venture in 2001 that seemed especially meaningful, for reasons that were both exciting (the first year of the new millennium) and unexpectedly tragic (September 11, 2001). At times, there were certainly reasons to be concerned about the outcome, these educators emphasize. But as these three programs weathered local, national, and global uncertainties, the administrators and faculty responsible for their success were able to learn valuable lessons, adapt to trends, and build significantly on what they started.


The Connected Campus

Wharton San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Launched in August 2001

When the Wharton School decided to open its 20,000-square-foot facility—then called Wharton West—on the top floor of the Folgers Building in San Francisco’s business and financial district, it caught the attention of the industry. At the time, several East Coast schools had set up research centers or training programs in California. But Wharton was offering its complete executive MBA, taught by its own faculty using its Philadelphia curriculum, in its new San Francisco home.

Wharton entered the California market for several reasons. It wanted to offer opportunities for students interested in industries heavily represented on the West Coast, such as sports, entertainment, and the booming tech sector in Silicon Valley. It wanted to provide a more accessible Wharton campus for students and alumni based on the West Coast and in Asia. Finally, it wanted to provide a home base for faculty who were involved in research and consulting projects in the region.

Although the facility opened just prior to September 11, that event did not have as much direct impact on the program’s early days as the burst of the dot-com bubble, says Leonard Lodish, founding vice dean of Wharton San Francisco. He remembers that there was “a lot of anguish” when a significant number of students lost their jobs as their companies downsized or folded. That first cohort had more than 60 students, and nearly a quarter of them were affected. Faculty and staff spent a great deal of time supporting those students as they found alternate employment.

In the years since, Lodish emphasizes, Wharton has ensured the success of the San Francisco campus by making sure its curriculum, faculty, and administration stay closely linked to its Philadelphia roots. “The two cultures must be the same,” he says. “To this day, our admissions decisions for both our East and West Coast campuses are made by the same people, in the same room.” 

As it celebrates its tenth anniversary, Wharton San Francisco now has more than 700 alumni. Plus, it’s making another move—into a brand-new facility. Opening in January 2012, Wharton’s new San Francisco campus will occupy the historic Hills Brothers Building, located about two blocks away from its original campus. The expansion comes in conjunction with the school’s plans to increase its executive education and entrepreneurial programs in San Francisco, as well as expand its slate of speakers and events.

Wharton didn’t make the move just to have a larger facility, says Deirdre Woods, Wharton’s chief information office. The school also welcomed the opportunity to have a technological “blank slate,” where it could build an all-digital learning environment without having to retrofit an existing infrastructure—in essence, to fully embrace a 21st-century educational model. A digital facility will support Wharton’s objective to move beyond the idea of “blended learning” to “connected learning,” in which students, faculty, and guests can connect to each other quickly, easily, and seamlessly, no matter what kind of technology they are using or where they are in the world.

“We’ve all been to presentations where speakers bring their PCs or Macs, and then they fumble around because they don’t have the right connector or the screen size is wrong,” says Woods. “These may seem like small things, but they have an impact on the delivery.”

Designers of the new facility wanted to steer clear of any communications or collaborative technologies that require special accommodations or connection points. Telepresence, for instance, is a wonderful technology, but because of its size and expense, it has too many limitations on who can use it, Woods points out. Instead, the new facility is equipped with more generic connections that can accommodate any device.

The true star of the space, says Woods, is high-definition video technology—and lots of it. Cameras are built into all of the flat screen monitors. All group study rooms include high-definition video conferencing equipment to allow teams to collaborate with teammates anywhere in the world. Each room also includes table-top touchscreen technology that enables students and faculty to project and interact with content or capture it digitally. The spaces are “production ready” for streaming online video, broadcasting classes online, or conferencing guest speakers from around the world into the facility’s amphitheater classroom.

“Our students and faculty will be using a range of devices, including laptops, iPads, and smartphones. They’ll be using different applications like Skype or Adobe Connect to collaborate with team members who aren’t in the same room,” says Woods. “We wanted the space to support all of that.”

Another crucial aspect of the new facility’s design is that it has been “future-proofed” as much as possible, says Woods. The designers did their best to build systems that could accommodate new technologies by changing only a few wires. In addition, they avoided trying to do too much to customize the technological features.

If the last ten years have taught educators anything, says Woods, it’s that many technologies become obsolete in months, not years. If a school invests too heavily in creating the “perfect” learning environment for today, it will be that much more expensive to accommodate advanced technologies tomorrow.

Today’s business schools will find it increasingly necessary to create dynamic, flexible, and functional learning spaces that can easily adapt as educational methods change, Woods emphasizes. “We can’t predict what’s coming next. But we do know that whatever it is, it will be Internet-connected,” she says. “Eighteen months from now, we might be talking about flexible screens o holograms. We want to be able to scale anything that connects to our classroom to the right formats.”


Timing Is Everything

TRIUM Global Executive MBA
Launched in September 2001

It was mere coincidence that the TRIUM Global Executive MBA accepted its first cohort of student on September 9, 2001. Those students were assembled at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) for their first two-week session.

The timing was difficult, but the program’s focus actually became even more applicable in a post-9/11 world, says Erin O’Brien, associate dean of TRIUM and global programs at NYU Stern. “TRIUM integrates international economic, political, and social policy in the business curriculum through the participation of LSE,” says O’Brien. “The importance of understanding the sociopolitical and economic dimensions of business has only increased. The complexity of operating in a global world has created a critical need for executives who can manage in this environment and have the ability to lead in complex or ambiguous circumstances.”

According to the program’s original design, TRIUM students spend two-week modules at each participating school—LSE, NYU Stern, and HEC Paris. They return to NYU Stern for the program’s concluding two-week session. In between these meetings, they also make two one-week trips to emerging markets. This model has remained fairly constant. However, since 2001, the program has changed in four significant way in response to changes in the global environment:

• When TRIUM first began, the one-week modules in emerging markets were held in Brazil and Hong Kong. As Asian markets rose in importance, the alliance moved those modules to their current locations in Chennai, India, and Shanghai, China. The final two-week session will now be held in Paris.
• The curriculum has been expanded to focus on leadership and professional development.
• TRIUM’s capstone course has been expanded from a strategic exercise into a full-blown incubator and accelerator for global businesses, says O’Brien. Today, alumni are invited to act as investors, mentors, and experts to help students take their business ideas from conception to launch as the culmination of their studies. So far, several of their ideas have resulted in businesses that remained in operation after they graduated.
• Finally, starting with the class of 2008, TRIUM began purchasing carbon offsets, explains Bertrand Moingeon, deputy dean at HEC Paris and co-founder and vice dean of TRIUM. “One of the negative externalities of globalization is the increasing level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Because of the global nature of our student body, we estimate that the program now generates between 800 and 1,000 tons of carbon a year,” he says. “We decided to purchase carbon offsets from Carbonfund.org, which has one of the most comprehensive verification scheme in the industry, to support renewable energy projects.” This step was important, he adds, because it helped the program balance its mission to cultivate multinational business and social networks with its desire to encourage global corporate responsibility.

The makeup of TRIUM’s student cohorts, which average about 51 students, also has changed dramatically. In 2001, approximately half the students in TRIUM came from North America—today, that number is less than 20 percent. Students now come from more than 30 countries, and many have lived in countries other than their own.

The international backgrounds of the students work with the program’s design to cultivate global collaboration and business development, says O’Brien. For example, TRIUM students have funded a microfinance initiative in India, established an investment bank in Ghana, and opened retail centers in Russia.

This past summer, more than half of the program’s nearly 500 alumni came to Paris for TRIUM 10, the alliance’s tenth anniversary celebration. And expansion plans are in the works—the alliance plans to add a second cohort to the program in September 2012.

To maintain such a long-term alliance, O’Brien and Moingeon stress the need to develop a high level of trust among the partners. “This allows us to adapt the program to the needs of the students and the changes in the market—for example, changing the location of the emerging market modules,” says O’Brien. Good governance is also crucial, Moingeon adds. The deans of all three schools have appointed program and academic directors who work on behalf of the alliance. That core staff coordinates resources among the schools to ensure the program’s success.

“The three schools are ready to do what is good for TRIUM, not just their own interests,” says Moingeon. “We have a shared vision for the value we wish to deliver and a shared commitment to identify the best talent.”


Gaining Momentum

Indian School of Business
Hyderabad, India
Launched in June 2001

At ISB’s opening ceremony, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was then the prime minister of India, called the school “a gift to the nation.” That was a remarkable description, but also presented the school with a remarkable responsibility in terms of what it was expected to accomplish for so large and complex a country.

However, the new venture would have help. ISB’s operations were being overseen by the Wharton School and by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois. When students graduated, their diplomas would carry the seals of Kellogg, Wharton, and ISB. Today, ISB still enjoys the participation of Kellogg and Wharton but is further affilated with London Business School; Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge; and The Fletcher School, a graduate school of international affairs, at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

From the start, ISB’s model embraced the global economy and American style of business education in an Indian-specific context Speaking in 2001, Kellogg professor and ISB advisory committee member Bala Balachandran said, “Students will be globally oriented but able to analyze local problems.” Students could receive that education through a curriculum that included a one-year post-graduate program (PGP) in management, equivalent to an MBA; a PhD program; and executive education.

In the intervening years, the school has formed academic centers for entrepreneurship; analytical finance; leadership, innovation, and change; global logistics and manufacturing strategies; real estate and infrastructure; and IT and the networked economy. Its latest two centers indicate the school’s growing focus on emerging markets. The Centre for Emerging Market Solutions opened in March 2009, and the Centre for Case Development in October 2009.

ISB’s short history has included three distinct five-year phases, say its dean Ajit Rangnekar. The first was 1996 to 2001, when the school was still in its planning stages. The second phase, from 2001–2006, was affected significantly by9/11. “Those years were a period of struggle, with the shock of 9/11 casting its shadow in the first year of ISBs operations,” says Rangnekar. He adds that the school was able to weather that period because of the strong support it received from its founding schools, its advisory board, and businesses from around the world.

From 2006 to 2011, the school has grown significantly. In addition to opening several of its research centers, it has seen its nearly 50 faculty become more internationally known, their research appearing in global journals and generating the interest of governments and industry, says Rangnekar.

Its student and alumni base also has expended rapidly: Since its inception, ISB has graduated more than 3,500 PGP students and trained more than 14,000 executive education participants. It recently accepted the first class to its new18-month post-graduate program in management for senior executives, ISB’s equivalent to an executive EMBA.

And like Wharton with its San Francisco campus, ISB is ready to make its next big move. In 2012, it will open a second campus 1,800 miles from Hyderabad in Mohali, a city of more than 120,000 people in northern India. The Mohali campus will house four institutes focused on issues important to India’s development: the Bharti Institute of Public Policy, the Max Institute of Healthcare Management, the Munjal Global Manufacturing Institute, and the Punj Lloyd Institute of Physical Infrastructure Management. Rangnekar hopes that, with its two campuses, ISB will find its next five-year phase is define by the impact it makes on its students, industry, and the academic community. He also hopes to see the school strengthen its role as a resource for those interested in emerging economies such as India.

Rangnekar especially wants ISB’s graduates to solve the many social problems that India now faces. “We want to make an impact on the government’s effort to improve the living standards of the people, as well as society itself, as it grapples with social inequity. The next generation of business schools should transform not just the lives of students, not just industry, but the society that we live in. I envision ISB playing its part in this transformation, as a change agent, not just in India, but all over the world.”