Practical Idealism

A conversation with new School of Business Dean Jaime Alonso Gómez

With more than 30 years of experience as a professor, researcher and consultant, Jaime Alonso Gómez brings exemplary credentials to his new position as the dean of USD’s School of Business. In a recent conversation with USD Magazine, Gómez discussed the importance of building on the school’s strong foundation of innovation and international connectivity.

Q: Your professional successes are myriad, but you are quick to say that you are an educator first and foremost. When did you realize that was your calling?

A: Early in my career, I worked at home in Monterrey, Mexico and abroad as an industrial engineer. Chief among my job responsibilities was managing crews of steel and petrochemical workers. Over time, I found that I worried as much about the employees’ ability to advance and better their lives as I did about managing the engineering tasks at hand. How then, could I help them? It became increasingly clear to me that becoming an educator was the way. In and of itself, education is an active agent for peace and prosperity, for human dignity, and for a much better society. I wanted to dedicate myself to supporting those ideals.

Q: Oftentimes, new deans have no previous experience at the school or university they are joining. That’s certainly not the case here. How long have you been affiliated with USD, and how does that help with this transition?

A: Time flies! I first came to USD during the 1992-93 academic year. I was serving as the founding dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration and Leadership at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico City. In preparation for the North American Free Trade Agreement integration, I worked with James Burns, dean of the School of Business at the time, to develop and implement a double MBA degree program through our two schools. To my knowledge, the program has graduated more than 200 people with dual degrees from USD and Tec de Monterrey, something I’m very proud of. From an operational standpoint, my experience here expedites the learning process as dean. I’m familiar with the university and familiar with many of the faculty and staff at the School of Business, so that’s an obvious benefit.

Q: During your tenure as dean, Tec de Monterrey was recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. How do you parlay that success to your new position?

A: That question could be interpreted to suggest that USD’s School of Business needs significant improvement, which is not the case. Look at the rankings. We have one of the top global MBA programs in the world (USD is currently ranked No. 3 on Financial Times’ MBAs in Entrepreneurship list); we’re top 10 in international business and we’re very strong in global and executive leadership. The foundation of innovation and international connection is there. Where I can help is in leveraging my international contacts and partnerships I’ve built in working with more than 100 companies in more than 50 countries around the world.

Q: ‘Return on investment’ is a major point of emphasis in the world of business. It’s also pertinent in education, considering the significant financial commitment students and their families make to attend college. How does a USD School of Business education deliver on that idea?

A: Here are some numbers to consider: 98 percent of our graduates get a job in less than six months; 71 percent of seniors receive their first job offer prior to graduating; and when I say a job, I mean a professional activity. They could be fully employed, or an entrepreneur. So the value proposition of the school is simple: We want our students to understand that the education we provide is rigorous, robust and relevant in every single market around the world.

Q: What do you see as some of the opportunities or obstacles for the school moving forward? There are no obstacles, only opportunities!

A: As a school, we see several opportunities to enrich and enhance our current educational portfolio. It starts with collaboration across the university. We’re going to work on building bridges with other schools. With the School of Engineering, we really want to build bridges regarding entrepreneurship that include an incubator and accelerator. With the School of Peace, I’d like to explore a joint venture where both schools work together for a more just, prosperous and peaceful society. I’d like to work with SOLES on developing innovation in higher education, and partner with the College of Arts and Sciences on issues of ethics and integrity in business. We believe the education we can provide is relevant, rigorous and robust in every single market around the world. — Mike Sauer

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