The USD MBA improvement story:

A stronger, more relevant program, equipping students in the top 3 areas to hiring executives, in just 4 months…

How did they do it?

A note from David Pyke – Dean of School of Business, University of San Diego (USD)

When I transitioned from being the associate dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth to dean of the School of Business at USD, I anticipated that the MBA program at USD would benefit from a careful review. After working with faculty to review and update the strategy for the school, it was time to engage in a comprehensive review of the MBA, as well as of other programs.

I had met Chris and heard of his impressive background in program review, so I asked him to facilitate the process. What I did not anticipate was his ability to keep us focused on strategic priorities, while moving the review process along at a reasonable, but ambitious, pace.

First, Chris guided us to create a clear vision of what we wanted the MBA program to achieve. Then he guided us to create an actionable strategy for that achievement. Next he interviewed C-level executives in target organizations, and highlighted the top skills needed for students to succeed. One cannot underestimate how complex and challenging such a process can be. I have seen similar reviews take multiple years, only to be left on the shelf because of personality or philosophical differences. Chris did a remarkable job avoiding these pitfalls. In fact, it was so successful, that I asked him to lead similar strategy facilitation and program evaluation projects for multiple programs at the undergraduate and graduate level—including Undergraduate Finance and Marketing, Supply Chain Management, International Business, and an emerging Business of Health Care initiative.

Chris impressively navigated the complicated and arduous task of curriculum revision. He got the right stakeholders involved so we asked the right questions at the right time. We benchmarked ourselves against top competitors and used a data driven approach to discuss improvements—referencing feedback from executives, deans, and student focus groups.

In a mere 4 months, we’ve experienced tremendous growth in our programs. Our MBA and undergraduate programs now include a stronger focus on creative analytical problem solving. In addition, we listened to what the top executives were asking for—which included better leadership and communication skills. Watz Productivity designed leadership labs to improve communication and leadership self awareness (particularly about strengths, values and spoiling tendencies). This fits our mission as a Catholic university—to create responsible leaders who understand what is driving them.

In consulting, some say the best form of flattery is repeat business. We are proud to continue working with Watz Productivity. Chris understands our challenges, and has the right skills to help us continue to grow our reputation and influence.