David Hummels David Hummels leads the Krannert team in the opening laps of the Subaru CASA Challenge in August 2015. The 24-hour extreme cycling event raised more than $100,000 to support the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in its efforts to enrich the lives of abused and neglected children in Tippecanoe County. Krannert staff member Mary Laurie co-founded the CASA Challenge in 2006. (Photo by Charles Jischke)
KM: Now that you’ve been in the role for more than a year, what is your vision for the Krannert School?

DH: We have to know ourselves first. We have to be the best possible school of management we can be, but at the same time build on the unique strengths of where we are situated here at Purdue. What does that mean in practice? We have been expanding over the last couple of years a set of very strong experiential learning programs that build on Purdue’s strengths in science and engineering, particularly in technology commercialization.

At Purdue you’ll find extraordinary scientists who know more about their area of science than anyone else. Their ideas have tremendous opportunity for commercialization, but they don’t know the business side of things. They don’t know how you investigate market competition, how you price a product, when it makes sense to license something. We have those capabilities, and we can be a strong complementary asset to provide opportunities for our students and opportunities for the tremendous scientists and engineers on the Purdue campus.

KM: What things can we do on the campus that can change the way business is conducted at Purdue?

DH: Business schools should be good not only at teaching business students and researching in their related areas, but also in being an example for the way in which organizations can run. We’ve spent a lot of time on business process re-engineering, focused on universities. We’re developing capabilities that are designed to make the operations of the University more efficient. That’s the sort of thing we research and teach about, so we can implement it here at home to make Purdue a more effective and efficient place to be.

KM: What about the efforts to increase opportunities for minority and female students at Krannert?

DH: One of the things you find in the dean’s role is the tremendous passion that alumni of the Business Opportunity Program have for their experience here. Lots of them attribute a great deal of their success to the program. We have a tremendous responsibility to both carry on and to expand the scope of what the Business Opportunity Program can be, both for the students who participate and for the firms that want to hire them.

It’s very clear that women have an extremely important role to play in corporate America. If you look at corporate boards and look at senior management, women are not as well-represented as they should be. In August, I was invited to the White House as part of a gathering of leading business school deans and corporate leaders to focus on the issue of how business schools can take the lead in remedying that problem.

We have a number of initiatives connected to that. One is the new Jane Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Management. It’s a center that will do great things, both in terms of scholarships and accessibility for students and in driving a research agenda about work-life balance and how we can be more effective in getting nontraditional managers to take the lead. We’re also going to have some exciting things around entrepreneurship for women that will engage both the Krannert School and women in engineering and other units across campus. We’ll provide competitions that will focus on energizing young women who see themselves as the next head of a major company or as a dynamic deliverer of some major technology or product.

KM: Being a business school dean is a time-consuming project. What do you do in your infrequent spare time?

DH: I like to bicycle quite a bit. Growing up in Colorado, there are great opportunities. It’s a little flatter here in Indiana, but if you look in the right places, you can find some hills. And it was very rewarding to be part of Krannert’s team at the Subaru CASA Challenge. It’s a great cause that was first championed by one of our own staff, Mary Laurie.

KM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from anyone?

DH: Say ‘yes’. What I mean by that is opportunity sometime falls into your lap whether you’re ready for it or not. You can’t be afraid to say yes and seize it.

KM: Best of luck in the coming year. There seems to be great momentum building at the school.
DH: We have a tremendous faculty and staff. We have highly talented students. And one of the things that surprised me when I became dean was the depth and quality of our alumni. They reach out to us, they support us financially, and more importantly, they come to campus and mentor our students and help us with placement. They help us develop a more responsive and dynamic curriculum. When you get those groups of folks together, you can really do great things.

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