Developing-Leaders-issue - 23- Spring - 2016

Viewpoint Developing Leaders Issue 23: 2016 | 17 T he relationship between business schools and management consultants has been the topic of much discussion and research over the years; on the one hand there is a healthy symbiosis where the best of top business school graduates move smoothly into well-paid roles at top management consultancies. On the other hand, there is an increasing competition for client business around developing executives and organizational culture, and an increasingly blurred line on both sides as to where academic education and management consultancy advice cross-over. It is therefore perhaps a little surprising, but perhaps also boldly clever, that one of the top US business schools has employed as its new dean, that is its CEO equivalent, a former senior partner of no-less a consultancy than McKinsey. Scott Beardsley was appointed Dean of Darden Graduate School of Business in August 2015, having recently left McKinsey’s as a senior partner after a 26 year career there. Beardsley’s appointment is a natural progression for him, as he had led McKinsey’s internal Leadership and Learning division and helped to launch the company’s online Academy for clients. As his CV makes clear, with an engineering degree from Tufts, and MBA from MIT and a recent doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, all achieved with honours, Beardsley knows his way around the top providers of higher education too. So it seems bringing his insight and knowledge of the competition into the business school arena is entirely to Darden’s benefit. Beardsley himself is modestly circumspect on the reasons he was appointed, but acknowledges that “there are actually great similarities between running an academic institution and a consultancy; the shared governance structure of a partnership and that of one with academic tenure is not that different. And there are more similarities perhaps between a consultancy partner and a senior faculty than might meet the eye at first look: they are both highly intelligent, they are quite independent, they care very much about what they are doing, they are elected through a tenure like process and they like to be involved in the decision-making….and that has been a benefit coming from a partnership to a business school as it has allowed me to figure out how decisions are made quickly, as it is kind of similar.” The parallels run deeper than just how to manage ‘clever people’ though, as at the executive development level there is an increasing competition between these two ‘provider types’. This is particularly the case with the increasing emphasis business schools are putting on custom programs, as opposed to the open enrolment courses that were the old staple and not offered by others in the development sector at this level. A Jeffersonian Approach to the Future A Conversation with Scott Beardsley, Dean of the Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia By Roddy Millar