“Just landed in Seoul to visit fantastic @Wharton alums. #Ebola precautions very visible,” Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett tweeted from his account on Sunday. Whether he’s tweeting selfies with students from Philadelphia, open shots with Penn alumni from New York or musings on economics from Hong Kong, Garrett’s tweets — like the man himself — have a global character.
“I get to lead an unbelievably blessed life that I hope is also reasonably interesting,” Garrett said of his Twitter presence. “If I can give it some real local flavor of the day, I hope that’s of interest to people who are interested in and supportive of the Wharton School.”
Garrett, who marked his first 100 days at the helm of Wharton on Oct. 9 — Wharton did not grant interviews with Garrett about his deanship until earlier this week — has dedicated his time so far to analyzing Wharton’s position as a global leader in business education. He wants to build on the school’s 130-year heritage to make it “more powerful in the next century than it was in the last century.” Garrett has yet to implement any significant changes at Wharton, but has so far focused on evaluating what he can add to the school.
And Garrett already has a slogan in mind for his tenure at Wharton. Citing his desire to preserve and leverage the school’s long history, he believes that the term “built to last” is most ap propriate, a catchphrase coined by Ford Motor Company.
The mantra might sound ironic for Garrett, who held each of his two previous deanships for only about a year each. Garrett came to Wharton from the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales, and before that served as dean of The University of Sydney Business School.
John A. Byrne, the founder and editor-in-chief of business school news source Poets & Quants, blasted the University in March for tapping Garrett, a man he called “an itinerant job hopper,” to lead Wharton. Byrne was dismayed that, by his count, Garrett worked for 11 different employers in the past 27 years.
Greg Whitwell, the current dean of The University of Sydney Business School and Garrett’s senior deputy dean at UNSW, said that a “mixture of emotions” accompanied Garrett’s departure for Wharton.
“Geoff’s leaving was, in a sense, creating a big hole for the business school, and for the university. He had articulated very well his vision for the business school,” Whitwell said. “It’s that much more difficult when the architect of that vision leaves.” Whitwell added that despite the disappointment, there was a sense of pride associated with Garrett’s departure for one of the world’s top business schools.
And Garrett says he is at Wharton to stay. “Being the dean of one of the best, if not the best business school in the world is not a bad gig for anybody. I used to say, and it was true, that in Australia being the dean of the Australian School of Business was probably the best job in Australia for me. This is probably the best job in the world for me,” he said.
While Garrett prepares for the road ahead, he has a clear image in mind of what a Wharton education should look like.
“We want to give [students] cutting edge technical and disciplinary skills, but we also need to have a matrix approach to that,” he said, emphasizing the importance of leadership training, internship opportunities and international experiences as crucial parts of the Wharton experience.
“I’m a very macro person, not a micro person. So I look at the role of business where it fits in economically, socially [and] how it affects geopolitics,” he said. “I think that we’re living in this world in which there is an expanded role of the private sector, and a decreasing distance between private benefit and public good is going to be a big feature of the world.”
That, he said, means that business education will become more relevant, not less relevant, and it means that the leadership position Wharton occupies is even more important.
Wharton’s Vice Dean for Undergraduates Lori Rosenkopf thinks that Garrett will bring a fresh perspective to the undergraduate program. She praised his enthusiasm for engaging directly with students, citing a Sept. 4 breakfast with undergraduates that Garrett himself proposed. “It was his initiative to want to get out and really say hello to the students formally but in an informal way,” she said.
Whitwell also lauded Garrett’s performance as an academic leader. “Geoff has the ability to change the way you look at things. He always brings a fresh perspective. I think his background in political science and international affairs [adds] a whole new dimension to the way he [approaches] business issues,” Whitwell said, adding that Garrett’s strong background with numbers also makes him a good business educator.
At UNSW, Whitwell said, Garrett emphasized the role of technology in transforming the student educational experience, the importance of business schools in having a positive impact on business, government and society and the role of the business school in working with the rest of the university.
“Geoff really does have a big picture approach. He’s very good at understanding trends. He understands what’s happening globally,” Whitwell added. “He’s got a good understanding [of] what’s happening in terms of international development, economic development, nations, [and] understanding where growth is occurring.”
“I actually have a lot of perspectives now, both on the world and on how different kinds of universities operate, which I think will allow me to do the job at Wharton better,” Garrett said. “I’m always on the glass half full side.”
Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.