The University of Newcastle’s Business School (NBS) recently gained accreditation from USA-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an honour earned by less than 5 per cent of the world's business programs. What does this mean for the school?
AACSB accreditation is a critically important international accreditation and gives us a huge competitive advantage. The NBS is one of only 15 Australian business schools with this accreditation and one of the only non-capital city region business schools with AACSB accreditation—a real coup! It speaks to the excellence of our current teaching and research performances and our vision. Internationally, this accreditation is one of the determinants in selecting which school to send one’s child to, and many organisations will only hire graduates from an AACSB accredited business school.
You have worked in many universities. What distinguishes NBS?
NBS has a depth of talent running across all of our campuses, across disciplines, and in teaching to research. We have also been able to hire and retain leading academics. This speaks to the quality of the School and how it’s viewed both throughout Australia and internationally.
This school also has deep and vibrant support from the community, which makes a great difference in its ability to achieve excellence and to meet the needs of various stakeholders. We are located in the beautiful Hunter, and soon in Newcastle’s CBD; in addition to our campuses in Ourimbah, Sydney, and Singapore. Our various locations provide great opportunities to have a wide-ranging impact. In addition, the commitment to disadvantaged communities and social justice is important to me. We are increasing the capabilities of all to achieve a better life through higher education.
What are the core challenges for you in running NBC?
NeW Space in Newcastle’s CBD is a great opportunity for the Business School. We are excited to make the move into the city and enhance the links between our students and staff and businesses and community members in Newcastle’s city centre.
From 2017, the Hunter Research Foundation will join the University of Newcastle to establish the Hunter Research Foundation Centre. Working with the NBC and other discipline areas of the University, the centre will build on the 60-year legacy of the Foundation, and partner with government, industry and the community across and beyond the Hunter to deliver socio-economic research and innovation that builds the region.
Another challenge is developing and encouraging research that will have impact, and contribute to, the socio-economic development of the Hunter and Central Coast regions.
Some of the projects you are currently working on?
In terms of my research, I am working on issues related to the efficiency of co-operative organisations, the importance of governance in co-operatives, and how fairness within organisation positively impacts on efficiency and competitiveness. I’m also researching various aspects of decision-making and how these decisions can be improved upon without interfering with the free choice of the individual.
I’m writing a book that examines how irrational behaviour is actually rational and smart and how this perspective can shed light on the decision-making process and public policy.
You were born in Canada. What led you to Australia?
I’ve worked all over the world, mainly in Canada. Newcastle offered me a great opportunity and I felt that Australia is a great place to live and expand my professional capabilities. I feel that in Australia, merit and excellence matter deeply. This is vital to me.
Your CV is 22 pages and includes more than 150 global academic presentations and eight books. Where do you find the energy?
For my family, my administration responsibilities and my commitment to my colleagues here and abroad come first. I’ve committed to working long hours, and I hardly ever go on vacation.
How do you think our is economy tracking?
The Hunter is moving on well, in spite of various crises in natural resource pricing. It is improving diversification and the Newcastle CBD is being transformed in a very positive manner.
We need to be motivated by an understanding that growth for growth sake is not of great value.
But for this to continue one needs good public policy across all levels of government and continued and significant investment in infrastructure, which should include a much faster and more efficient rail link to Sydney.
If you could make economic change to improve society, what would you do?
It would be great for the NBS to contribute towards developing and implementing evidence-based policy that would significantly contribute to the economic transformation of Newcastle and the Central Coast.
This would include improving job opportunities, attracting innovators and investment. But we need to be motivated by an understanding that growth for growth’s sake is not of great value. We need growth that is positioned to broadly improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the Hunter and Central Coast populations.