Why Business School Deans Should Have a Personal Brand

Dean Miles Davis of the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business at Shenandoah University talks with AACSB Explores on the importance of deans and business schools using branding to represent themselves.


Miles Davis: [00:21] AACSB as a business school, as it prepares for accreditation, think about its distinctiveness, which doesn't mean it has to be unique, but it does have to be distinctive. As individuals, we are distinctive. There are things that make us special. There are things that make us different than everybody else and so do institutions.

[00:42] For you to attract students, they have to know what you stand for. If you talk with people who are very much involved in marketing, they say, "OK, what's your core audience?" It doesn't mean that you don't appeal to other people. You have to be able to know what is your target market, what are you going after, because you have to be sensitive to their needs.

[01:02] If you don't understand what your distinctiveness is and you can't market that, it makes you look watered down and inauthentic, because you're trying to craft a message that's appealing to everybody, everywhere, and that never works.

AACSB: [01:17] What are some ways deans can develop a personal brand on social media?

Davis: [01:17] LinkedIn is one of the platforms in which professors, faculty, deans, and even administrators can use to increase their professional brand. I'm extremely active on Twitter and Facebook. The only place I'm not active is on Snapchat. I can't quite get with that yet.

[01:41] It's an ideal about connecting with students. You're absolutely right. I get lots of things from students on Instagram in particular as the place that we share in common.

[01:49] I think you have to be intentional. Everybody is not comfortable doing that. I come up with weird, quirky ways that on the face may having nothing to do with academia. However, depending upon what type of institution, what type of brand you're trying to cultivate, you can do that.

[02:09] If you can appear to be authentic, and if you can appear to be progressive and/or cool, or align with your mission which is most important, and then have an AACSB brand on top of that, that's icing on the cake.

[02:24] What you've done is you've connected on a personal level which is often emotional. You also have to connect on a rational level, because somebody has to pay the bills for you to go to that school.

[02:36] If you can say that you are AACSB-accredited institution, it means that not only is this crazy dean with crazy socks in my case over there, but that school is a good school.

[02:49] Sometimes we forget as deans though, that we're not just managing people, we're not just managing budgets. Part of our job is to extend the brand into school. To make sure that we are able to maintain and hopefully, increase involvement.

Filmed February 2017 on site at AACSB's Deans Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.