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Anne Auer
Kelley School of Business

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, August 31, 2009

New leaders take the reins of Kelley School's MBA and undergraduate programs

Tight job market, diversity and international business are focus

Aug. 31, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Today (Aug. 31) is the first day of classes at Indiana University and also a new start for two leaders at IU's Kelley School of Business. Professor Phil Powell will be leading Kelley's full-time MBA program, while Professor Tom Lenz will lead the undergraduate program.

Both are armed with strategies to address the difficult issues facing business schools across the country as business education is re-evaluated in the wake of the current economic crisis.

"Our sole goal in the MBA program this year is to confront the job market," explained Powell, a business economist. "This economy is unprecedented, and we will be implementing new ways to help students engage the job market effectively. Taking the reins of a program where the quality of teaching is ranked the best in the country" means there is not much to fix within the MBA curriculum, Powell says. Instead he will focus on finding new ways for students to engage in finding job opportunities, in some cases with companies that previously might not have considered hiring MBAs.

According to Powell, Kelley's students are helped in their job search by a unique quality that he calls the "H-Factor" or the "Hoosier Factor." By this, he means that they have both a top-notch education and a top-notch work ethic. Powell adds, "A collaborative work environment also makes the Kelley MBA experience unique.

"Or as one student put it to me, 'Kelley is an elite school that doesn't act elitist,'" Powell says. "Our students are known for getting hired and rolling up their sleeves, getting to work and working effectively in teams."

Powell replaces Jim Wahlen, professor of accounting, who has resumed his role in the accounting department. Powell, who teaches business economics within the school, previously was faculty chair person of the evening MBA program at Kelley's Indianapolis campus. He holds a doctorate in economics from Vanderbilt University.

Lenz takes over the undergraduate program from professor M. A. Venkataramanan, who will now serve as associate dean of academic programs at Kelley. Lenz is in the unique position of having earned his undergraduate degree and his doctorate of business administration both from Kelley, where he also has taught for more than 33 years.

Like Powell, Lenz is also responding to a tight job market for students. He also is focused on increasing diversity at the school, with support from the Ernst and Young Diversity Initiative and the Office of Diversity Initiatives. He also will work to make opportunities for international study available to every Kelley student.

To help students secure employment following graduation, the Undergraduate Career Services Office will be working closely with graduating seniors from the start of the academic year. The career center will keep students informed of the recruiting needs of companies making campus visits and to help them develop skills needed for effective job searches.

"Many industries are undergoing dramatic transformation and new industries are being born," Lenz said notes. "These changes mean that business students must be flexible and opportunistic in their job search."

He argues that to be successful in their job search, students must reach out to small and medium-size businesses, innovative high-tech ventures, government organizations, newly emerging Internet-based companies as well as more conventional firms for business-school graduates.

Increasing the diversity of the Kelley School's student body is another of Lenz's priorities. "The business case for developing individuals who can lead in an increasingly diverse business environment is unmistakable," Lenz said.

"The work forces of virtually all domestic and foreign corporations are becoming more diverse each day. And while the Kelley School is fortunate to have many outstanding men and women from underrepresented groups, there is a need to do more to achieve a degree of diversity and cultural inclusiveness consistent with the school's aspirations," he said.

"Our goal is to recruit the best underrepresented students and instill in all of our students the leadership imperative of establishing an organizational climate that is welcoming to all."

Finally, Lenz argues that because career progression in many, if not most corporations, depends on direct international experience and knowledge of other cultures and ways of doing business, all undergraduate students must be prepared for the global workplace.

"Our goal is to be able to offer such an experience to every Kelley School student," he said. "The importance of this cannot be overstated."