A little over a year ago, Joe retired as the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis. He was with Olin for 18 years and prior to that he was with Marquette University as the Assistant Dean for MBA Programs for 18 years. Joe was responsible for Olin’s Full-time and Part-time MBA programs and seven specialized master degree programs. He worked with a staff of approximately 21 FTEs. In this capacity, his team was responsible for admissions, student affairs, and alumni relations.
My Take Aways:
- Telling the person to whom you report is critical, but not always easy. This task is much easier when the lead time between informing him or her and the departure date is long. The rule for lead time is the longer the better. Joe disclosed his intent to his dean about two years out.
- The timing for making the decision public is important. In Joe’s case, he made the decision public about one year after his conversation with the dean.
- Sometimes the best laid plans can go awry. Shortly after Joe has his conversation with the dean, the dean decided to step down. A new dean was hired. Several of Joe’s direct reports decided to leave and the search for Joe’s replacement did not end by finding a replacement. Even though there is a plan with fixed milestones, there may be a need to make some changes.
- Running an MBA program is like running a business.
- The longer someone is in a position, the more unrecorded/undocumented institutional knowledge they will need to transfer to someone else. The transfer will likely take place after leaving and will be done via email, phone calls, Skype calls, etc. In most cases the transfer is complete after one full recruiting cycle.
- There is always the possibility that some people will play the transition game, that is playing the predecessor and the successor against each other to their benefit.
- There are three phases to a transition-planning, overlap, and post departure.
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