How do you meet millennial expectations in a global economy? According to Professor Chris Earley, those expectations must first be met in the classroom, with an outlook to working collaboratively with business to better serve the community.
Professor Chris Earley, the Dean of the Tasmanian School of Business & Economics has a unique view of business, which for the past two years has been reflected in the way he leads this up and coming school.
According to his biographical detail, Professor Earley is a Professor of Organisational Behavior, studying the dynamics of people within organisations and in particular concerned about how managers can work more effectively across cultural boundaries.
His research has found that if teams are managed effectively, over time they don’t see each other’s differences, they become united. The approach focuses on the common values that exist within humanity irrespective of culture.
The same can be said of any organisation or learning institution and it is a point Professor Earley attempts to get across as he manages the staff and students of the Tasmanian School of Business & Economics. It is this approach that has enabled him to, as Professor Earley says, “polish the diamond in the rough.”
Indeed, that is what he was tasked to do when he first joined the institution in June 2015.
“We have tremendous talent and we have some really exceptional staff. The students are excellent. But we haven’t yet taken that bold step of bringing things together in a fully synergistic fashion. And my job is to take all of these wonderful individual elements and work with everyone here to bring them together so that we develop that synergy.”
The university’s strengths are its senior leadership and its endeavour to be relevant in a changing global economy. Marine sciences is an area the University is known for. However, Professor Earley is striving to bring recognition of the business school to future students and the business world at large.
The catalysts to take a university from good to great are the same processes and strategies organisations employ to improve their stature. And it is an understanding of these processes that Professor Earley brings to the University of Tasmania. The goal is to be a global presence and in an ever-changing business world: a great Australian, Asian and world class Business School.
Bringing synergy to the business school is a work in progress, but development is tracking well for the new business school model Professor Earley has implemented.
The next phase for the school is worldwide research and outreach (impact). More research essentially means more relevance and the opportunity to make a difference economically and culturally. It is attempting to bridge the gap from University to the business world and achieving real consultancy to create an avenue between the two.
Universities have found it difficult to bridge the gap and some have failed to fully transition from pure academia into business organisational change. However, a direct conduit into organisations and the business community could give graduates the opportunity to make significant and tangible change that creates real global impact.
Designing a new practical MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation that millennials desire with tangible, practical and modern techniques which exposes students to developing a business plan, venture capitalists, crowdfunding and angel investors is what Professor Earley hopes to achieve.
As such the University of Tasmania is transitioning to application type learning for the next generation of students.
This means there will be a real time practical business focus that challenges and develops the student body.
Tools are important, but students also need a higher purpose.
Practical learning in teaching is the area in which the University of Tasmania can develop a stronger delivery process supplementing current revised subjects with external business intern opportunities within the business community, which will be most valuable to students entering the workforce.
The University of Tasmania is mindful of generational change and is pressing for all students to have a positive contribution to global community and economy.
“I think this next generation will have the real world skills and practicality to take idealism and operationalize it.”
Professor Earley says the University’s short-term goal is to obtain international accreditation of the business school.
Throughout the interview Professor Earley notes three very important concepts, which encapsulate his vision for the business school:
Certainly Professor Earley has the extensive credentials to implement these concepts.
Prior to commencing with the University of Tasmania in 2015 he was the Dean of three previous Universities including the University of Connecticut, the National University of Singapore, and Purdue University.
Having held many University roles within Asia, UK and United States, Professor Earley believes that the University of Tasmania is well placed to develop a curriculum which includes business relationships with organisations that benefits not only the University, students and business school but the organisations involved in the initiative.
“Generating new knowledge is so important in reinvigorating the student and the teacher,” he says.
Which brings us back to where we started.
Professor Earley has a passion for economic decision making, cross cultural research, motivation, teams and leadership: how people communicate in different countries within different cultures.
He says the university’s job, or part thereof, is to balance all of the above so that students can integrate into any cultural business setting in a moral manner.
“It is so important to develop collaboratively and that development comes between students and teachers and students and businesses, and the school and those businesses. And that collaboration builds moral character.”
“I get the impression from this next generation – the millennial generation – that they have a lot of concerns about the community. And it isn’t just simply an issue of getting ahead or getting that next promotion. That’s not to say that they don’t want those things, but what I’ve seen with our students here is there’s a lot of concern about making sure that what they do will add value to the larger community.”
A university’s goal is to create graduates that can not only fill the roles of today, but also look forward to tomorrow in an ever changing interactive, dynamic and digital business landscape.
“We are creating problem solvers that can find solutions to complex problems, that keep up with the fast moving business world in a moral way that is culturally relevant.”
Professor Earley is working to develop a single unit or course that is customised to the student’s specific journey more comprehensively and seamlessly. He is creating flexible units or modules including modules such as a master class for business managers.
These modules are designed to create generational change across the way students study and their expectations in their work life. As such the University of Tasmania is creating students with the tools and desire to make a difference in whatever community they work and which complements the global economic climate.