AACSB’s New Brand: Building a Stronger Business Ecosystem

AACSB International Board of Directors Chair and dean at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University, Soumitra Dutta, and AACSB president and CEO, Tom Robinson, discuss the impact AACSB's new brand has on business education, and business, globally.


Tom Robinson: [00:00] Why is the AACSB introducing a new brand?

Soumitra Dutta: [00:18] I think every organization needs to periodically reevaluate what does it stand for, what does it represent. AACSB is at a bit of a critical juncture in its own evolution at which the time has come to reevaluate its role in the changing world of business.

[00:32] The rebranding exercise really is a chance for all of us to look at the organization and look at its role in the future.

Robinson: [00:39] The tagline for the brand is, "Business Education. Connected." Why is that important?

Dutta: [00:44] The word "connected" is central to what AACSB represents. AACSB represents the connection of members to each other, members to business practice, members to an ecosystem of other providers who, in fact, create this entire success of the economy and society in which, essentially, business schools are a very important player.

[01:04] I believe that the "connected" phrase is central to what I think is one of the core value propositions, one of the core values, of AACSB today and in the future.

Robinson: [01:17] What does this mean for AACSB's member schools?

Dutta: [01:19] Just like how the rebranding of AACSB has given us a chance to think about who we are and what we represent, I think this rebranding also provides member schools to think about how does this phrase "connected" refer them in their own roles, because every school has a role to play in their own context in which they operate.

[01:41] Each school is connected to the alumni, to the faculty, to the peer schools, to practice, to other players globally, and it's a good chance for us to all look at the connections and revitalize them.

Robinson: [01:52] What should AACSB and member schools do over the next year to help leverage this new brand?

Dutta: [01:59] What we have to do is, of course, live up to the values of the core thinking behind the new brand and really, in some sense, ask the questions, with whom are we connecting, are the connections strong enough, with who else should we be connecting.

[02:14] What kind of new connections should we be making given all the disruptions that are there in the industry, and to actually think, how can we learn from the connection.

[02:21] All of us have to evolve and grow over time, and learning and growing only happens if you are taking in new ideas and learning from others. Connection's also central to learning and evolving.

Robinson: [02:32] What will AACSB and their member schools look like in five years?

Dutta: [02:37] That's a good question. That remains to be seen. Clearly, AACSB is a very valuable global platform.

[02:43] Clearly what I hope is AACSB will become even more relevant to businesses, to the members, to society as a whole, and connections and focusing connections will help us to become more relevant and more meaningful as an organization.

[02:58] Each school is different. They operate in a different context. They often have different local, national objectives.

[03:08] Each school needs to think about, how does it actually live up to this notion of connectedness and be more connected in a useful manner and a purposeful manner inside the society in which they operate, yet at the same time connect to the global platform that AACSB represents of which they're a member of.

Robinson: [03:25] You've been heavily involved with AACSB's Committee on Issues in Management Education [now Innovations Committee]. A year ago, the committee and AACSB released the collective vision for business schools. How is this new branding connected, if at all, to this collective vision?

Dutta: [03:42] The collective vision gave us a chance to think together about what the future of business education should be. I mean business education in a more general sense, because business education is not just only for business schools, but collectively what does the ecosystem provide.

[03:58] Business today is a very central part of the economy for creating wealth or prosperity. If you think about connections, what is interesting is the three enablers for the collective vision were really central to connections in many ways.

[04:11] One of the enablers was connecting across disciplines, and that is very much central to how we extract value from the universities in, typically, which the members operate.

[04:22] The second enabler was connecting with business practice, and that is also very important because we all are linked to practice.

[04:29] Our students graduate and go into companies. We essentially serve companies in many ways, and companies are often the vehicle by which we enact and influence large-scale change.

[04:39] Connections are very central to how we can even enable the achievement of the collective vision. I do hope that link becomes even more apparent as we go forward.

Filmed April 2017 on site at AACSB's International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) in Houston, Texas, USA.