Wharton Names New Dean; Garrett, of Australian School of Business, to Succeed Robertson as Elite B-School Faces Challenges

Wharton Names New Dean

Garrett, of Australian School of Business, to Succeed Robertson as Elite B-School Faces Challenges

MELISSA KORN

Updated March 17, 2014 7:55 p.m. ET

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School surprised many with its choice for a new dean, as the elite business school fights to remain in the very highest echelon of M.B.A. programs.

After a nearly yearlong search, Wharton on Monday named Geoffrey Garrett, a distinguished political economist who currently heads the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales, to take the helm. He will succeed Thomas Robertson, who announced last spring that he would step down at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

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Wharton named Geoffrey Garrett, head of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales, as its new dean Monday.Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

The appointment of Mr. Garrett, 55 years old and a dual U.S. and Australian citizen, was met with some head-scratching in the school community and beyond. According to one Wharton professor, most faculty know very little about the new dean, and were unsure what to make of the hire.

In an interview published online in The Australian Monday, Mr. Garrett said that it was “an incredible surprise that Wharton was interested in interviewing me and even more so that I was offered the position.”

Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement that Mr. Garrett “has a proven track record as an eminent interdisciplinary scholar and strong and collaborative strategic leader.”

Mr. Garrett couldn’t be reached for comment late Monday.

While Wharton remains one of the world’s most prestigious business schools, prospective students, admission consultants and others say it has struggled somewhat to brand itself as more than a feeder for Wall Street jobs.

Application volume to the Philadelphia-based school’s flagship two-year, full-time M.B.A. program has declined in recent years while demand for spots at competitors Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business has remained stable.

Wharton, and other schools across the U.S., have also been grappling with Americans’ diminishing interest in full-time M.B.A. programs, increased demand from students in Asia and the disruptive forces of online educational offerings.

Mr. Garrett, who arrives with global experience and an enthusiasm for some of the new technology upending higher education, has made a flurry of job moves in recent years. He has been business dean at University of New South Wales for a just over a year, and spent a year before that as dean of the University of Sydney’s business school.

Before that posting, he had four-year teaching and administrative stints at the University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles and Yale University, and spent 2005 through 2012 leading the Pacific Council on International Policy and the United States Studies Centre in Australia.

His longest tenure was at Stanford University, where he was on the faculty for nine years in the late 1980s and 1990s. During that time he also spent two years teaching multinational management at Wharton.

A prolific researcher and writer, Mr. Garrett specializes in global business issues. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and now sits as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, among other organizations.

Wharton is a plum post for Mr. Garrett. The M.B.A. at the Australian School of Business ranked No. 62 in the world, according to this year’s Financial Times ranking, down more than 20 spots from 2012. Wharton, meanwhile, landed at No. 4 in the latest contest.

Wharton’s present dean, Mr. Robertson, said in April that he would step down after a seven-year run and return to the classroom as a marketing professor.

Under his leadership, the school overhauled its M.B.A. curriculum, launched a new marketing campaign and invested heavily in innovation, social impact and an expanded global presence.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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