The Yale School of Management is looking for leaders. By ‘leader,’ it means someone who combines a sense of purpose in life with commitment and accountability, and who uses those qualities to inspire others to achieve excellence – not only in business, but in public institutions and in society as well. Yale looks for applicants who demonstrate those leadership qualities along with intellectual gifts and a desire to be part of the Yale SOM community. It provides those students with a rich learning environment that exposes them to the best in business education, research, and thinking.
Here is our March 2007 interview with Yale SOM Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico.
Can you describe the new core curriculum?
It’s very exciting and it came about very quickly. The senior faculty voted unanimously to adopt it in March 2006 and worked very hard over the summer to implement it. It rolled out in September 2006, which was an amazing achievement.
The basic thrust of the new core curriculum is that management education had lost touch with the way business is practiced today. In the past, MBA graduates would have a relatively stable, straightforward job with the same company for a number of years and would work their way up vertically within the organization. Today, people’s careers are much more fluid, much more dynamic, and even if they are staying in the same organization, they tend to jump around in terms of their responsibilities. As they work their way up in the organization, they have to bring in a very broad perspective and be very multidisciplinary in how they approach things.
The new core curriculum is meant to reflect this business reality and to train MBA students to succeed in today’s business environment. It breaks down the traditional management disciplines in much the same way that contemporary organizations are blurring distinctions among management functions. Rather than teach management concepts in separate, single subject courses like Finance or Marketing, our approach teaches management in an integrated way.
So, for example, instead of a Finance course, there is a course on the Investor; instead of a traditional Marketing course, there is a course on the Customer. The heart of our new first-year curriculum is a series of eight of these new multidisciplinary courses, called Organizational Perspectives. These courses are structured around the organizational roles a manager must engage in order to solve problems. The idea is that this focus on organizational role, instead of disciplinary topic, creates a richer context for students to learn the concepts they need to succeed as managers.
What caused the change to happen so quickly over the course of last year? Was there a particular incident?
I think a lot of it actually was the new Dean, Joel Podolny, when he came on board. This is something that I think he had been thinking about and the school had also been thinking about, so I think the time was right. There was a bit of a harmonic convergence of sorts. The thought was in the air.
There was a dissatisfaction with the way business schools teach management, and the feeling that there was a better way to do it. I think there was a real alignment among the faculty, that they had found a better way. The thinking was if we have this new curriculum that we are excited about and feel very good about, why wait? Why not just put in the extra effort, get it in place now, and roll it out as soon as we comfortably can?
That’s what happened. It was a lot of work over the summer, but it was a real credit to the Dean and to the faculty that they were able to pull it off. It’s rolled out smoothly.
What feedback are you receiving from students and faculty on the new curriculum?
The feedback has been universally positive in terms of the students’ experience. There’s so much excitement about how the curriculum is playing out. That’s not to say that there aren’t kinks. There are certainly some things that can be improved upon for next year and future years, but I think students feel that the material is really very three-dimensional. They are seeing the connections among disciplines. It really makes it so they can absorb the material better. They feel that it’s a richer and more interesting way to learn.