Dr. Steve Allen says now is a great time to pursue your MBA at NC State
Feb 07, 2011
Dr. Steve Allen, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Research for the Poole College of Management at NC State University, leans back in his office chair and smiles. The year ahead looks excellent. The MBA program grows at a steady clip. Professors are being consistently published in reputable journals and last summer the program’s innovation lab was ranked by Forbes as one of the top ten business school labs in the nation. In 2010 NC State also named a new, proactive chancellor, Randy Woodson, who Allen sees as a “change agent” and already doing excellent things for the university.
Meanwhile, in December NC State received from Lonnie Poole (a graduate from NC State’s engineering school and owner of Raleigh’s biggest waste management company) the biggest gift in its history: $40 million. Most of the gift ($37 million) goes to what has now become the Poole College of Management. “This gift validates the excellence of the program and all the fine things already in place,” says Dr. Allen. And yet the MBA program has truly evolved since forming in 2002. Business education has changed considerably, too, since Dr. Allen began teaching economics at NC State 33 years ago.
Taking the Business Online
One of the more exciting changes for the NC State MBA program is a new, two-year online MBA, launching this fall. Dr. Allen and his colleagues found that roughly 100 business schools now offer online MBAs, but few of the premier MBA programs do. They saw a huge market opportunity: Offer the same quality faculty and classes online so that the NC State MBA program can reach those wanting and needing an MBA who simply can’t commute regularly to class. Dr. Allen knows that some feel that the “people skills” gained from studying face-to-face simply can’t be replicated. But he sees these attitudes largely stemming from the attrition problems and low completion rates that plague for-profit schools offering online MBAs. He thinks that with NC State’s regular Ph.D.-holding faculty teaching the face-to-face and online classes, and with the excellent technical support NC State offers, the program will flourish.
Travels to Paris, Chile and Argentina
NC State’s MBA program, like others across the nation, is also becoming more internationally focused. Allen was one of several professors hosting study abroad trips this summer. Dr. Allen normally avoids group travel. But even he had to admit he had a wonderful time leading a student trip to Chile and Argentina. The group visited a Chilean agricultural processing facility where they saw produce arriving from farms, being packaged, and sent off in pallets to be shipped off for export. The group also visited a Chilean winery, an Argentinean pharmaceutical firm and a business incubator in Buenos Aires. The students had down time too—visiting a tango club, a soccer match, and a Chilean mountain lodge.
Then in the fall, Dr. Allen met with faculty at the Skema Business School. Skema, based outside of Sophia, France, is becoming increasingly global with students studying in various countries, including the US and particularly, Raleigh. In January, Skema opened a campus at NC State, which means 300 French students will be on campus and there will be a cooperative program with NC State. Additionally, the Jenkins MBA program has a master’s degree in global innovation management and is partnered with IAE Aix-en-Provence in Provence, France.
MBAs meet with Vets, Biotechnologists and Engineers
Dr. Allen is also excited by the growth of joint degrees between the MBA program and other parts of NC State University. “Other business schools offer joint degrees. But we offer an unusual and large mix. Of the nine other colleges at NC State, we are associated with eight,” Dr. Allen says. The business school recently created a joint MBA with a Master of Microbial Biotechnology and a a joint MBA and Master of Industrial Engineering degree. There also is a joint Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/MBA program. (So if you are a Veterinary student and do four years in NC State’s vet school, then one at NC State’s MBA program, you can acquire your MBA too.) Meanwhile the MBA program is teaming more with centers, companies and think tanks within Raleigh, and within NC State. The Product Innovation Lab, which Forbes ranked so highly in 2010, is thriving. This past fall, students created a business plan and a working prototype for a medical device.
Real Experience with Real Companies
As Associate Dean, Dr. Allen enjoys seeing his students working with large companies and applying the skills they acquire in the classroom to real world problems in actual business environments. At the height of BP’s oil spill, the company needed to focus on some key issues: Collecting and dispersing oil, buying new equipment and completely inventing a supply chain. To help with this effort, seven NC State MBA students interned with BP in Houston this summer. The NC State MBA program’s supply chain management training has also been fruitful with students taking consulting projects with big name companies like Bank of America, Caterpillar and American Airlines. Most of these companies visit campus, too. “This has been excellent for job leads and networking,” Dr. Allen says.
Raleigh – Ranked Highly for Job Growth in 2011
And while the NC State MBA program grows, so does Raleigh. This summer, Newsweek joined other magazines in ranking RTP as a top growth area for jobs in 2011. Dr. Allen sees Raleigh as a “very pleasant” place to live. It has excellent technology companies, a hugely talented work force, three outstanding research universities, and a state supportive of higher education. “This level of growth is a given.” Allen sees the next big wave areas for RTP being biotech, life science, and medical device companies. He also suspects that a few local video gaming companies may take off.
Dr. Allen believes being able to leverage the strengths of RTP is one reason the MBA program has done so well, so fast. “Not being a finance-based school has also helped us do well, despite the economic climate,” Allen says. Even still, he sees much room for improvement. NC State’s MBA program, like many others, can focus more on ethics and corporate responsibility and less on data crunching. “This is expected of MBAs, but so is good leadership. I’m an economist and there is such a thing as “diminishing returns…” he says.
A great time to become part of NC State
Lunch break is over and Dr. Allen has a ton of appointments scheduled with prospective students and professors. In closing, he he looks forward to discussions with faculty, students and businesses about how to best leverage the Poole gift, especially in the area of sustainability. He also says he is delighted and humbled by Poole’s kindness and generosity. “This gift will help take things to the next level for our faculty, students, and graduates. It’s a great time to be pursuing your MBA at NC State.”