Q&A: Mason Business School’s new dean looks to the future
Ajay Vinzé, the new dean of George Mason University’s School of Business, has a motto with far-reaching implications: “It’s all business.”
While in his former position as dean of the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business, Vinzé visited the state, asked a farmer what he was doing, and received a typical Midwestern terse response: I am a farmer”.
Vinzé told the man he was actually a businessman.
“Do you make budgets? Do you do the payroll? Do you do marketing? Vinzé asked him. “You are a businessman. You happen to be in the agricultural business.
A senior Fulbright scholar who has visited, lived or worked in more than 70 countries, Vinzé was previously a professor at the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Vinzé officially started his new job on July 1, but spoke with Mason faculty and staff to acclimate to college.
The Sun Gazette asked Vinzé about his plans for the School of Business and edited the conversation for brevity.
What are your goals for school?
“The ‘obvious’ goals are to increase and improve our student experiences here at George Mason and our business school and also to ensure that our students are career ready, with jobs in hand or at least a clear idea of what their goals and focus are once they are done here.
We need to make sure we have a strong sense of retention from our students, to make sure people who join stay and complete their degrees and so on in a timely manner. We also need to maintain a strong trajectory on cutting-edge research coming out of business school that has real impact on practice and society at large.
We need to do things intentionally and distinguish ourselves as a business school locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. We must do things with high added value, which meet the needs of the times. We also need to be intentional about global partnerships and avenues for international institutions to connect with us, not just student and faculty exchanges.
What are the strengths of Mason’s School of Business?
“We have an exceptional faculty here that is diverse in their academic and professional skills, and we have a wonderfully diverse student body. These are natural advantages that we have, but another advantage is that we are located on the outskirts of one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with a whole host of organizations and businesses that drive our economy.
What would you like to do differently at Mason?
“In many ways, we are competing with institutions with long histories and traditions, both in the region and nationally. Mason is a younger school – we just celebrated our 50th anniversary – and that’s definitely a plus of some sort. It gives us the agility and flexibility to get things done [while] sometimes institutions with older traditions find it harder to change.
We need to engage more intensely with local businesses, many of which have a national and international presence. As a business school, we need to make sure we’re relevant to them because we’re providing them with the workforce of tomorrow and we need to be aware of what they’re looking for.
How is student learning changing?
“It’s more than online. It’s really a broader spectrum of understanding of how you consume education – experientially or playfully. [using game-playing elements to encourage engagement] or in a modular way. So it won’t be the same old, the same old. We have to look at what are the expectations of the students and what are the expectations of the consumer community, which are the commercial enterprises. »
Where do you see the business world heading?
“Globalization certainly peaked in the 1990s and early 2000s, and while it is certainly on the ropes in some ways right now, globalization is not something we can avoid. It will continue to have a significant impact, whether through supply chains or other forms of collaboration.
What is needed is a deeper understanding of the fragility of a tightly-knit international structure and just-in-time methods. You have huge efficiencies, but there’s also a level of fragility that goes with it, and that’s what we’re experiencing right now. A disruption in one game has huge ripple effects everywhere.
Blatantly denigrating globalization is not the right thing to do. It causes heartaches and headaches. This may be an overreaction to what we are seeing right now.
What elements of business education do you see continuing?
“We need to ensure that our students are well trained in the basics of business, including accounting, marketing, management, finance, technology, information systems, operations, etc. How we apply this in context is starting to evolve. I think we need to make sure our students are well versed and grounded in the fundamentals.
Number 2 is to understand that businesses behave differently these days. They are more real-time, more interconnected and interconnected. Students’ understanding of this will become important.
“Think globally and act locally” continues to apply significantly. It’s up to us to reach out and connect with other disciplines to make sure we’re more relevant to them and they are to us.
Artificial intelligence is one of your areas of interest. How can AI help businesses and are there any risks?
“I’ve been an AI researcher since the 1980s and even back then it was like, ‘The time for AI is coming. This is a golden age. The cycles that AI goes through are a function of the speed of computation, available data, and algorithms. AI is definitely on the rise right now and the impact of what it’s doing right now is unparalleled. It’s really impressive, what’s being done.
Like most new innovations, there is always a point where we, as individuals or as a society, need time to get used to it and then translate what it does for us into our context. As we internalize it, we will adapt to the AI and the AI will adapt to us. As a trained technologist, I’m not afraid of what AI can or will do, but I’m very excited about the possibilities of adopting and adapting to AI. »