Making Businesspeople Emphasize People At Georgetown

Georgetown McDonough’s Patricia Grant was recently named senior associate dean for the undergraduate program. She has been with the school since 2010. Courtesy photo

It’s little wonder that a business school like Georgetown University’s anticipates increased global integration across the B-school landscape in coming years — or that a long-time McDonough School of Business dean would go so far as to predict that “globally immersive experiences” will someday soon constitute an essential element of all business education.

After all, notes Patricia Grant, senior associate dean for the McDonough undergraduate business program, Georgetown has more than 100 semester-abroad programs, of which more than 40 are business-specific — and every year the school adds more. Right now 60% of McDonough’s approximately 1,300 undergrads are involved in some form of global immersion experience, Grant says, “and we hope that will grow.”

“I have no doubt that ethical decision-making and principled leadership, technology, a focus on global integration into growth and decision-making in business will all continue to be very important,” Grant tells Poets&Quants. “We at McDonough have been, since our inception, very focused on not just Washington but the world, and that global outlook and interest has helped us to remain relevant.

“The world will become even more interconnected and interdependent than it is today, and that certainly will have an impact on how we continue to offer opportunities for students to engage in globally immersive experiences, whether that be through our Global Business Experience or through our study-abroad opportunities, our opportunities for global service, all of those elements of what we do inside and outside of a classroom. As at other schools, here they will have great relevance and will grow and be enhanced in the future.”


Grant, who this week lost the “interim” from her title, has spent seven years in undergraduate leadership positions at McDonough after 15 years in undergraduate, graduate, and executive education program administration at other schools (including Temple University). Which means that throughout her career she has been in a position to observe (and facilitate) big curricular and co-curricular changes, from the rise of fintech to technological advances in the curriculum — and, importantly and potentially seismically, a growing emphasis on the “triple bottom line,” putting ethical and environmental considerations alongside profit as driving motivators in business.

Fintech is of particular interest at a school (ranked fourth in the U.S. by P&Q last year) where 53% of 2016 graduates went into financial services (another 6% went into IT/technology). The list of top employers for that graduating class reads like a roll call for the world’s top investment banks: Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank. That said, it may seem surprising that the school would place so much emphasis on the triple bottom line and sustainable business practices — but as Grant is quick to point out, Georgetown is a Jesuit university, an ethos the school is eager to advertise that permeates everything it does, inside the classroom and out.

“I can speak very squarely on what we do at McDonough, which is to really think about the triple bottom line, to move past just profits and think about the impact of one’s business dealings on people and on the planet overall,” Grant says. “‘What is my role as a business leader in that realm? And what is my personal value system as a principled business leader as I’m designing a new product or a new service? Is this something that I can stand behind, and that I feel good about contributing, not only to business but to the world?’ And we’ve seen our students do that time and time again, sometimes integrating technology, which has a certainly taken on quite the relevance within our curriculum, as well as business school in general.”

Grant echoes her peers in forecasting tech as the biggest future disruptor in business education, much as it is now. Nor will she dispute the impact of data analytics. “Certainly there’s been an increased emphasis on technology within the financial sector and around fintech; I think that is something that has shifted. We at McDonough have seen a very clear interest in fintech in the curriculum as well as in the co-curriculum. That exists on both the undergraduate and graduate side.

“While technology can be seen as a disruptive force, it is one that I think we’ve embraced, because you can always use it as a force for good. And we really talk about that in the classroom as well. I would add that data analytics — and Big Data in particular — have been really clear elements of what we do, both with our faculty and their research and in the classroom where we talk about business decisions and operations. That will continue, as it will in business education in general.”


But it’s Georgetown McDonough, in the heart of the U.S. capital, so there’s a bit of the world in everything they do.

Over the last year alone, during her tenure as interim senior associate dean, Grant revamped and expanded career trek opportunities in multiple industries and geographic locations through the school’s Office of Professional Development. Meanwhile, the options for students looking to see a bit of the world are many: the Global Business Experience elective, in which students consult for companies abroad; the Global Business Fellows Program, which partners with the School of Foreign Service to engage students in fundamental business principles and international affairs; the Global Social Internship Program that takes students abroad to consult for entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses; and the addition of a custom summer study-abroad program in strategic management at CUHK in China, as well as custom summer programs in England and Spain.

If schools aren’t doing what McDonough is doing with its global offerings, Grant says, they might use the school as model going forward.

“We at McDonough really place a lot of emphasis on the privileged environment we are able to create, and that is a continuous loop that includes our current students, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as parents,” she says. “Our corporate partners are really critical to the work that we do, and in that vein, we will focus quite intently and intensely on really building that community even further and we will continue to grow our global programs. That could include global career trek, which is on the docket, as well as more opportunities to expand into the continent of Africa and other locations across the globe.


Though her job title has changed, Grant says she will largely continue what she’s been doing: overseeing the entire undergraduate business unit and contributing across several areas, including admissions, curricular development, student advising and mentoring, and career counseling. Her promotion is a no-brainer when you consider the numbers: All but 1% of Georgetown McDonough’s Class of 2016 found full-time work (93%) or went to grad school (6%).

Grant says her “mission” is helping students be the best they businesspeople they can, with an emphasis on “people.”

“My entire career has really been marked by a focus on students and their success,” Grant says. “Every single role I’ve had, the underpinning of everything that I do is to ensure that we live up to the promises that we give to students when they join our community, so that they can be their best selves.

“Georgetown is no different, when I came in 2010 I was very pleased to be in an environment where I could continue to live out that part of my professional mission — to help students with their educational, professional, and social development. With Georgetown being a Jesuit institution, the McDonough School of Business really lived up to that mission of making sure that we are developing programs and opportunities for students to deepen their engagement and strengthen their values. That has been the cornerstone of my time here, to really push students to be their best selves — to access magis, or “more,” loosely translated, within themselves and out in the world.”


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