Why Maryland Smith Is Launching 2 Programs Focused On The Future Of Work

The Smith Business Leadership Fellows Program will launch next fall with about 120 top freshmen invited to join.


The Smith Business Leadership Fellows Program will also open next fall to incoming freshmen. Fellows will take accelerated core business courses and, along with Smith Honors Program students, engage with industry executives through deep discussions, lectures, internships and networking for a big-picture perspective of the business world. Students are permitted to participate in both the honors and fellow programs simultaneously.

Smith also announced the creation of up to 50 new scholarships funded by a donation from William Longbrake, DBA ’76, whose generosity, Konana says, “will assist in our efforts to enroll, retain, graduate, and place a diverse community of exceptional leaders.”

Joseph Bailey, Assistant Dean

A goal of both the Smith Honors and Fellowship programs is to develop leaders who act as co-visionaries, co-creators and collaborators of a product, service or company as opposed to just managers of the business functions.

It’s not just taking a widget and figuring out how to best market it, it’s actually engaging in the design of that widget,” Bailey says. “It’s offering that chance for business school students to help design technology and think that they can add value. Artificial intelligence is a great example. Some of the best AI algorithms require a supervised approach, and that has to come from the managers and business leaders who are involved in the work. Business leaders can’t just be consumers of algorithms, they need to be co-creators of algorithms.”

Leaders and executives from Maryland Smith’s industry partners, as well as business alumni, will teach classes, network with students, work on real-world business problems and offer experiential learning opportunities. Examples include Deloitte, Accenture, UnderArmour, Capital One, T. Rowe Price, Ernst and Young, and others. 


Traditionally, when people thought of business, they often thought of the General Electric model – a strict hierarchical leadership structure with a command-and-control, and each function working in isolated departments. Engineering was done in one unit, financing in another and marketing in yet another, for example. 

Today, business is much more fluid, Bailey tells Poets&Quants.. Therefore, undergraduate business education can’t be a list of prerequisite classes, such as accounting or finance, that students must take to get to the advanced discussions. Instead, those discussions must happen at every level so students know the why behind the subjects and how they fit into a real-world business setting. More than “marketing,” they may examine how social media is changing the discipline. More than “accounting,” they may look at how blockchain affects financial audits. 

‘Students want to be engaged from the first moment they hit campus,’ says Joe Bailey, associate research professor and Assistant Dean for Speciality Undergraduate Programs at Smith. 

“Students want to be engaged from the first moment they hit campus,” Bailey says. “And we are really freed as faculty to move away from just imparting skills to our younger students to really having high-level discourse about the business discipline. I think we are almost compelled as faculty members to introduce some really deep conversations about the future of business: What does management mean? What does work mean? What does it mean to manage human capital? How do disruptive technologies affect what we’re doing?”


When thinking of business as a whole, there is the nature of business – the how – and there is the purpose of business – the why. The how is all the levers and pulleys behind running a company or an organization. 

“The why is to create individual and social prosperity,” Mullins says. “That has not changed. While the nature of business is evolving, the purpose of business remains the same. What we want to do is integrate the ‘how’ and the ‘why.’”

Work on the programs’  foundations began about two years ago with a redesign of the curriculum from scratch, Mullins says. “We wanted to come up with a new way to deliver an education so students can understand how to truly think critically, to take a problem and frame it and examine it and resolve it.”

Creating a true honors program and the fellowship at the Smith School of Business will help the school attract students who may have liked what Smith had to offer, but wanted the higher-level of discourse and challenge that an honors program would offer. 

“We also want to attract a high-level of diverse students from across the country,” Mullins says. “When you have a good honors program or a good fellows program,I think you attract attention from people who had not considered you before.”