Balancing Community-Corporate Needs Through Influential Leadership

Irvin Ashford Jr., a 2019 AACSB Influential Leader honoree and graduate of Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, shares how his education gave him the tools he needed to succeed in creating valuable partnerships for both corporations and their communities.


Irvin Ashford Jr.: [0:15] Honestly, I can tell you that the entire educational experience was the most rewarding. The fact that a kid from the Lower East Side of Manhattan got to go and get a graduate degree in business really made me know two things. One, that I could thrive in any business environment that I was going to be in, and, two, that my particular form of diversity mattered to the outcome of my business.

[0:48] My challenge is to balance the need of the corporation with the community needs of people that we serve.

[0:57] What I mean by that is, there are times where, as a businessperson, I'm responsible for maximizing shareholder value or meeting some predetermined goal that the corporation has set. Sometimes, those goals don't match the community needs that we serve.

[1:17] I have to translate the needs between the corporation and the community, and the community and the corporation, and create win-win situations for both of us in order for both entities to thrive.

[1:30] Following the advancement of business education, I think practitioners could simply provide access. Access to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, from rural areas, access to a diverse group of folks, and give them what I like to call "dirt under the nails" experience.

[1:52] There are times where one class, one socioeconomic culture, gets opportunity to do things and others don't. I think there's a need to have or provide access to different types of jobs, internships, co-op opportunities, so that different types of people can work and have real-world experience and move things from the theoretical to the practical.

[2:25] In order to form better relationships with corporations, I think business schools simply need to solve a problem or seek ways to help meet bottom-line issues or help us do things better. I think oftentimes schools approach corporations with one goal in mind, and that's typically to raise money.

[2:48] I think if you approach the corporation under the guise of solving a problem, I think money issues will take care of themselves, particularly if you're helping us solve real-world, big-ticket pricey problems.

Filmed at AACSB Co-Lab: Connecting Industry With Business Schools, May 2019.