KM: All business schools teach the same functional areas. What sets the Krannert School apart from its competitors?
CE: I think for us, it’s the global connection and the global awareness. We have a very internationally diverse student body. We build into our programs a very strong global focus. But we also build in the science, technology and engineering angle. Our aspiration is that all students coming out of Krannert, although they may not be engineers or scientists, will have a sophisticated awareness and knowledge of those materials and of that area so when they go into their companies they bring a value-added component that they can’t get if they go elsewhere.
KM: We know that the Krannert School does an outstanding job teaching functional areas to students. What is the school doing in terms of honing soft skills and leadership qualities?
CE: Our motto now is “analytical insight, global leaders.” By that we mean that we have people who have very strong analytic and quantitative skills and are able to pull problems apart in a very sophisticated way, but also have an appreciation for the global community and global environment. They act as leaders who have both those quantitative, hard skills as well as the soft skills.
That’s a combination that’s very hard to find. A lot of graduate and undergraduate programs in business have softened because their students didn’t like taking the tough courses. We’ve always been very rigorous in our training, and we continue to be very rigorous, but where we can add value is in the soft skills and leadership. Our graduating students have a unique combination of the ability to make an impact through critical thought and to lead with empathy, understanding, and cultural and social intelligence.
KM: Where would you like to see the Krannert School in the coming years?
CE: It’s critical for us to embrace science, technology, engineering and math –– STEM is critical because of the uniqueness it gives us and because it creates a competitive, cutting-edge space for the United States.
Take manufacturing as an example. This is an area of business that has really fallen from popularity. A lot of people moved into financial services or service-related industries, and America got away from actually producing things. Because of the global market and the nature of labor supply and labor costs, traditional manufacturing isn’t a good niche for the United States.
But advanced manufacturing is something that we do that the other countries can’t. They don’t have that ability. We still find people from China, India and elsewhere coming to the United States to find out what leading advanced manufacturing is all about. This is a core strength for Purdue. And this is a place where we can provide a distinctiveness in the educational marketplace and produce graduates who have these skill sets that will be sought all around the world.