Students dream big at the Smith School. Many want to shake up Washington, Wall Street or Silicon Valley. Others want to start their own firms or find their niches elsewhere.
After breaking into the finance world as an investment banker, Bradley “BJ” Levin ’03 followed his dream of becoming an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. Entrepreneur Raj Sharma ’94 wants to change the way public servants run government. And Carly Fiorina, MBA ’80, wants to be president of the United States.
Dream jobs come in many varieties. But employers and investors increasingly demand one skillset that cuts across boundaries. They need critical thinkers who can analyze data, recognize patterns and take action.
Some of this demand is not new. The world has always been a complex place full of quantitative problems. What has changed is the massive amounts of data available now.
Some of the information fits neatly into rows and columns on traditional spreadsheets. Other data are unstructured. Think about the proliferation of emails, audio and video files, and social media chatter.
The Smith School recognizes and embraces the challenges involved. Our dream job is to help prepare the rising generation of critical thinkers to thrive in this world of big data — so they can compete for their dream jobs.
We started by looking closely at our undergraduate program. With the help of assistant dean and professor Rebecca Ratner, we added Critical Thinking Night into orientation activities to set the tone for freshmen.
We also added a business analytics minor and new fellowship opportunities, such as the Schilit Scholars in Accounting. This program, sponsored by Howard Schilit, MBA ’76, PHD ’81, teaches fellows how to uncover financial shenanigans buried in corporate books.
At the graduate school level, we ramped up our menu of specialty masters — each infused with analytics. We offer graduate degrees in marketing analytics, finance, accounting, information systems and supply chain management. And the list is growing.
Now we are drilling down on our MBA curriculum. As we set priorities and make adjustments, our Offices of Career Services and Executive Programs will play a key role. They will help us listen closely to the corporate recruiters and executive education clients who enrich the Smith community.
Numbers and other types of data tell stories that business professionals from all industries need to hear. The Smith School will make sure our graduates speak the language.
ALEX TRIANTIS, DEAN