In this issue: Spring 2020
Daniels Dean Vivek Choudhury shares his vision for the college—and the future of business education
Vivek Choudhury joined the University of Denver as Daniels’ 17th dean Aug. 1, 2019. His passion for innovation and impacting students is the foundation of his vision for the College.
“Under Vivek’s leadership, we believe Daniels will become even stronger and better able to help students prepare for work and careers in the 21st century. Vivek shares DU’s commitment to innovation,” said Chancellor Emerita Rebecca Chopp. “He understands what has traditionally helped business schools succeed, and he has a vision for what they need to succeed in the future.”
Inherently collaborative, Choudhury spent his first few months on the job listening to input from members of the Denver, DU and Daniels communities. We sat down to discuss what he heard—including how the College can better serve all stakeholders in the midst of a rapidly changing landscape, and the symbiotic relationship he aims to establish with the Denver business community.
“It is important to note that an interest in public good does not mean that we are not, at the same time, preparing students to succeed as businesspeople.”
Q: What has surprised you the most since you started your new position?
A: I came to Daniels because I believed we had a wonderful opportunity to build the business school of the future. The only surprise has been that, with our faculty and staff, and the support we have from our alumni, donors and the broader Denver community, the opportunity for Daniels is even greater than I could have imagined.
Q: What has impressed you the most?
A: A number of things. Our challenge-driven curricula. The spirit of innovation displayed by our staff and faculty. The involvement and support of our alumni. The enthusiasm and dedication of our students. The engagement we have with the corporate community—over the last few years, we have worked with over 900 corporate partners per year on average, and have executed over 100 client-based student projects each year. The warmth of the people in Denver. And, of course, the beauty of the Rockies!
Q: Where do you see Daniels’ greatest room for growth?
A: One thing that we always need to focus on as a business school is helping our students find jobs and preparing them for the ever-changing business world that awaits them. To that end, we can continue to improve the “job readiness” of our students. We are constantly asking ourselves what additional technical, functional and analytical skills our students should be developing in the classroom to help them with their job search. We already have a wonderful Career Services team that works with the students on such things as resume preparation, networking and digital profiles. Now we need to take the next step and ask ourselves how we can better prepare our students for the specific verticals or functions they want to work in. For instance, what does a student who wants to work in private equity need to know that is different from what the student interested in commercial banking needs to know? What are the keys to success in the digital marketing world?
Q: How have you engaged in the Denver business community thus far?
A: I have met a number of our alumni as well as business leaders in Denver. I participated in the Leadership Exchange Program with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce in Dallas. That was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet many business leaders in Denver. I also have joined the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation board and the board of Junior Achievement, which also afford me the opportunity to meet business leaders. Everyone I have met has been very receptive to potential collaborations with Daniels. In fact, this is one of the things that has been very gratifying—the willingness of the Denver community to engage with us.
Q: What does Daniels’ vision, ‘pioneering business for the public good,’ mean to you?
A: Simply put, it means doing good while doing well. It means considering the interests of all stakeholders in making business decisions, as [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.] Jamie Dimon and [Chairman of the Board and CEO of Johnson & Johnson] Alex Gorsky put it in their recent statement for the Business Roundtable [an association of CEOs of America’s leading companies working to promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy]. It means considering the societal and human implications of business decisions. It means creating businesses that address the triple bottom line [people, planet, profits].
“Everyone I have met has been very receptive to potential collaborations with Daniels … This is one of the things that has been very gratifying—the willingness of the Denver community to engage with us.”
Q: Do you feel that our vision differentiates Daniels’ positioning in the marketplace?
A: I absolutely believe that. This vision is very consistent with the values of today’s generation. A recent article in the Economist on reinventing the MBA said that Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, “laid into American management education. It ‘programmes’ students to favour profit over the public good. This, he noted, is out of step with ‘the new capitalism.’”
Our vision, both as a business school, and as a University, aligns well with the new capitalism that Mr. Benioff references. It is important to note that an interest in public good does not mean that we are not, at the same time, preparing students to succeed as businesspeople. These two perspectives are not mutually exclusive.
Q: What needs do you see Daniels being able to fill to synchronize our offerings with the needs of the Denver business community?
A: The big need that any business school fills in the community is, of course, to provide the talent that the business community needs. To that end, we are working to make our students more job-ready. In this endeavor, we see the business community in Denver as our essential and integral partners, both in helping us identify the skills that students should have, as well as, in many cases, helping us deliver those skills and mentor the students.
I also have stated that we need to ask the question of our alumni: ‘What can we do for you?’ One of the answers is clearly continuing and executive education. In addition to our Executive Education offerings, including both custom and public programs, we are also planning to create a series of free videos and recorded conversations on topics of current interest that will be streamed to our alumni and archived for later access. Some of these will be open to a live audience of alumni, students, faculty and staff.
Q: Will Daniels be offering anything new in the graduate certificate space? How about additional online options for graduate programs?
A: Yes. Graduate certificates are typically four courses on a focused area, such as corporate finance, or may be interdisciplinary. While these may be initially derived from our existing degree programs and course offerings, over time we expect to develop new ones as well. These graduate certificates will be available as independent credentials. But they are also stackable and can serve as pathways to master’s degrees so students can access education when they need it and build credentials over time.
Certificates can also serve as specialization options for students in degree programs—for example, a student in an analytics graduate program may want to obtain a certificate in marketing to prepare for work in market research. We are always exploring ways to make it more convenient for our students to access our programmatic offerings. The University is establishing an online program management capability that will significantly enhance our ability to create online courses.
Q: On a more personal note, is Denver starting to feel like home yet?
A: Yes, it is. I am extremely grateful for the warm welcome I have received from my colleagues on the staff and faculty at Daniels and DU, and from the Denver community more broadly. My wife and I have settled into our new home and are enjoying exploring the city and the Rockies.
You can learn more about Dean Choudhury’s background at daniels.du.edu/blog/daniels-welcomes-new-dean