The Snyder Effect

Bein' real all over the world under Snyder's leadership.
Bein' real all over the world under Snyder's leadership. // Minh Nguyen

When Edward Snyder assumed the Yale School of Management’s deanship two years ago, some members of the SOM community feared he might not fit into the school’s culture.

Snyder moved to New Haven after having served nine years as dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, an institution widely recognized as one much different from SOM. The Booth School currently enrolls a total of roughly 3,300 students. SOM’s class of 2013 has fewer than 300 students, and the school holds a historic reputation of educating students for the private as well the nonprofit and public sectors — a reputation many in the business school community believe has harmed outsiders’ perception of the school.

“I think that when you get a new dean, especially from another university that has a somewhat different DNA than yours, there will always be a certain amount of weariness,” said SOM Deputy Dean and Professor Andrew Metrick ‘89 GRD ‘89.

Despite their hesitations, SOM community members were fully aware of Snyder’s long trail of successes as a business school dean. At the beginning of his term as dean at the Booth School, the school placed tenth on BusinessWeek’s ranking of best MBA programs in the United States. When he left, the school was ranked number one, and had received a $300 million donation from alumnus David Booth — the largest in the history of business schools. Under Snyder’s leadership, the Booth School almost doubled its number of endowed professorships and tripled its financial assistance to students. In the press release announcing his appointment, University President Richard Levin said Snyder is regarded as the most successful business school dean in the nation.

Over 30 members of the SOM community interviewed agree Snyder quickly showed them they have nothing to worry about.

“I could really tell from the beginning that he just made a lot of observations and was in listening mode, instead of arriving with a specific agenda,” said SOM student government president Caitlin Sullivan SOM ’13. Metrick said SOM faculty members realized that Snyder “did not come to impose,” as he took the time to really glean the school’s needs before formulating policy.

After getting acclimated at Hillhouse Avenue, Snyder articulated three visions for SOM — to make it the business school most integrated with its home institution, to make it the most global business school and to make it the best source of versatile business leaders who can solve problems across business sectors.

This July will mark two years since Snyder officially joined SOM, and the SOM community agrees that the dean has managed to tangibly improve the school while preserving its core mission — “educating leaders for business and society.”

SOM students and faculty take the school’s mission seriously. There is a sense of purpose regarding the role the school can play in educating leaders who can “take a deep dive but also understand the big picture and really take into account all the nuances of the surrounding world when making business decisions,” SOM Senior Associate Dean for Executive and Global Programs David Bach ’98 explained.

Though the school has evolved the way it implements its core objective, Bach said, the mission still holds, and Snyder has made it the thrust behind all of his decisions about the school. But given the school’s “rather abstract ”mission, Bach stressed the importance of translating it into specific goals clear to the SOM community and outsiders alike — which the SOM students, faculty and staff believe Snyder has done particularly well.

“The school’s mission here is actually felt and lived much more by students and faculty than at other schools, and Dean Snyder has taken note of that,” said SOM Associate Dean for the full-time MBA program Anjani Jain. “Sometimes at big business schools, mission statements live on websites. But here the mission is contemplated and lived. That would have never happened at Wharton [School of Business].”

 

ENSURING INTERNAL EFFICIENCY

Last year, Jain headed the MBA program at the Wharton School of Business, which holds the third position on this year’s Financial Times annual ranking of MBA programs worldwide. Across the Atlantic, Bach was dean of programs and professor of strategy and economic environment at the IE Business School in Madrid, eleventh on the Financial Times’ list.

This academic year, both Jain and Bach began their work at SOM, ranked 14th in the world by the Financial Times and 21st in the U.S. by Bloomberg Businessweek. In June 2012, Snyder announced that Jain and Bach would leave their institutions to fill two SOM senior associate deanships that did not exist before Snyder’s arrival at the school.

Snyder’s announcement surprised both business school experts and members of the SOM community.

“Rarely if ever does a business school recruit and hire leadership talent of this caliber, particularly at the sub-dean level,” wrote the business school news website “Poets and Quants” after Snyder’s announcement. “Both Jain and Bach have played high-profile roles at their schools for years and either of them could just as easily have landed a full deanship at another business school.

Snyder’s decision to create these new positions is part of his broader effort to make the school administration operate more efficiently, an attempt professors and students said has produced “tangible” benefits, such as increased contact between administrators and the rest of the school community. In addition to delegating some responsibilities to the new deans, Snyder also brought in Julia Zupko — former director of operations at the Booth School — as the new director of SOM’s Career Development Office with the goal of increasing collaboration between the office and the student body.

Snyder also recruited retired U.S. Army brigadier general Tom Kolditz from the West Point Military Academy to create and direct a new leadership program for SOM students. While Snyder’s predecessor, former SOM Dean Sharon Oster, was the one who identified a gap in leadership training at the school, Snyder recruited Kolditz to establish the Leadership Development Program — a program integrated with the school’s curriculum that imparts leadership skills through a combination of academic coursework and practical experience.

Metrick praised Snyder’s ability to “locate and recruit the right people,” a quality he said Snyder demonstrated by hiring individuals who have since their arrival spearheaded or supported a variety of successful initiatives.

“You have to have the charisma and vision to inspire really successful people from really good schools to come work for you, and Ted has both,” Metrick said. “He saw the need to hire new people, had the savvy to convince them to come, and gave them the resources they need to do their jobs well.”

 

GOING GLOBAL

But Snyder’s vision for the school extends beyond internal changes.

In order to connect with foreign institutions, U.S. business schools have traditionally either created networks involving one or two other schools or built campuses in foreign countries. But Snyder has realized this is not an efficient way for a business school to enhance its global influence, Metrick said. By conceiving the Global Network, a coalition of 23 international business schools that Snyder created last year, Metrick said the dean has set a model for how business schools should interact in the 21st century. Della Bradshaw, the business education editor of the Financial Times, said Snyder has “visibly” increased SOM’s international presence through the network.

One of the network’s first initiatives was Immersion Week — a weeklong program conceived by Bach that allows second-year MBA students at SOM and other schools in the network to take intensive courses on each other’s campuses.

Immersion Week took place for the first time this March with five schools. After over 90 percent of participating students said in a survey they would like the program to take place every semester, the school partnered with six network members last week to organize an additional Immersion Week this fall.

“Immersion Week is very much about innovation; thanks to the network, Immersion Week enables curricular innovation across continents and gives students the chance to learn how to do business across sectors, time zones and cultures,” Bach said. “It fosters in them a global mindset and prepares them for the kind of work they will have to do if they join multinational corporations.”

Vivian Li SOM ’13 visited IE Business School in Madrid during Immersion Week — because most of her classes at SOM focus on the U.S. market, she found it “refreshing” to learn about business problems that affect other parts of the world. Li is a student in SOM’s Master of Advanced Management Program, a degree SOM introduced last year to enable students from network schools to study in New Haven for a year.

During Immersion Week, each school hosted a course that addressed the entrepreneurial and economic issues of its respective region. Over 30 participants who visited either Spain, China, Turkey or Brazil this March said the program helped them engage with local issues and bring new knowledge back to SOM — knowledge they will integrate in case studies and other curricular components.

SOM Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico said he has noticed increased interest in the MBA program from students in countries with network schools during this year’s application cycles. Though the admissions office has yet to analyze this data, he added that SOM has received applications from countries where the school has not attracted a lot of attention in the past.

While the Global Network is yielding specific initiatives, such as Immersion Week and the MAM degree, some see its purpose as a push to shift the underlying mindset of the SOM community — the network is “almost a way of thinking,” Metrick said.

“When the Global Network started, [Snyder] might have known where it was going, but most of us were not sure where it would go,” SOM professor Ravi Dhar said. “Now, we are seeing many benefits, though I think we are using just 20 percent of the network’s full potential. Who knows how many more we will see in the future?”

 

SOM AND A “MORE UNIFIED” YALE

Snyder’s goals for SOM seem aligned with President-elect Salovey’s goals for the University, in particular with Salovey’s vision of a “more unified” Yale. Integrating SOM more fully with the rest of the University is one of Snyder’s central goals for the school.

SOM already offers 10 joint degrees with seven professional schools and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences — Bach said 12 percent of SOM students are currently enrolled in a dual degree program and 74 percent are taking at least one course outside SOM, numbers “one simply doesn’t see at a place like Wharton.”

“There is a tremendous alignment between the strategy of SOM and the pillars of what Salovey has sketched so far,” Bach explained. “The dual degree offerings which we hope to expand just change the conversations happening in our classrooms because students studying business with medicine, law or divinity have such unique insights.”

SOM’s integrated core curriculum, first implemented during the 2006-’07 academic year, enables professors to teach different disciplines in a single course. While the school’s interdisciplinary approach to learning renders its academic program unique among leading business schools, Bach said the curriculum also makes it difficult for non-SOM students to enroll in an SOM class that focuses on a single business topic they might like to explore.

But this will change in the fall, when SOM tests out two “foundational courses” that will be offered to the rest of Yale — one on accounting and one on finance. These courses will aim to make the knowledge generated and disseminated at SOM accessible to the rest of Yale’s schools, and both Jain and Bach expect this kind of course offerings to grow in the future.

 

A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?

With Snyder entering his third academic year as SOM dean in the fall, many in the business school community wonder if his new initiatives will prove financially sustainable.

SOM Senior Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations Joel Getz believes the school will continue on its upward trajectory because Snyder’s proven fundraising abilities can prop up his ambitious goals.

“Ted has really focused like a laser beam on the budget — on the scope and scale problems that a business school faces,” Getz said. “He is using his wide knowledge of the business school landscape to think about what the school really needs in terms of programs, but also funding to build a strong financial framework.”

Though the school boasts a $500-million endowment, Snyder is currently raising money the school can spend right away. Snyder has diversified SOM’s sources of revenue in part by expanding the school’s portfolio of degrees, in addition to actively soliciting donations from SOM alumni.

Snyder has made it clear that strengthening the school’s relationship with its alumni is crucial to his fundraising efforts, and Getz said Snyder has increased the school’s alumni giving rate through in-person meetings with alumni around the world. Since Snyder arrived at SOM, he has raised roughly $5 million toward the construction of Evans Hall — the school’s new campus slated to open in January 2014 — along with several sizeable donations of over $1 million for the school’s new leadership initiatives.

SOM, which currently allocates roughly $3 million of its budget for financial aid, has also announced that it will increase its combined scholarship and loan-forgiveness budget to $6.4 million by 2015. This increase is “natural,” Jain said, given the school’s plans to increase its class size to 600 students by 2017.

As SOM continues to reach its intended targets, Jain said, he expects the school’s priorities to shift accordingly. The school is still in a transitional phase as it fights its way toward a new reputation in the business school sphere.

“For years, [SOM] has unsuccessfully battled the misperception that it is merely a school of nonprofit management, a haven for do-gooders outside the MBA mainstream,” wrote “Poets and Quants.” “And despite basking in the halo of one of the world’s most valuable educational brands, the school has never been able to develop the stature of any of its Ivy League rivals.”

Most SOM community members are aware that Snyder’s initiatives will take time to reach their full potential. In the meantime, the school can reap the immediate benefits of Snyder’s leadership, though it remains to be seen whether he can work his magic on SOM the same way he did on the Booth School.

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