Category: Dean Freeman

JetBlue CEO David Barger Visited SMG to Talk Airlines, Aspirations

April 10th, 2013 in Dean's Speaker Series, News, School

Tells students: “Don’t take the first job that comes along”

Excerpts from BU Today:

David Barger, JetBlue president and CEO, liberally mixed humor and candor throughout an hour-long discussion last week at the School of Management about JetBlue’s success in an airline industry replete with bankruptcy, mergers, and acquisitions.

Barger was greeted by a standing-room-only crowd for the SMG Dean’s Speaker Series, where he and Kenneth Freeman, SMG’s Allen Questrom Professor and Dean, discussed Barger’s career path, his leadership style, and the future of airlines. Students were invited to ask questions during the second half of the session, and two lucky participants earned a pair of free tickets.

In a nod to the packed room, Freeman remarked, “We have full capacity utilization, which is great in the airline industry.”

Barger, who helped found JetBlue 14 years ago, was the latest guest in the speaker series, which has brought to campus industry stars like Adam Bryant, New York Times senior editor for features, Ed Weiss, general counsel of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group, and Dannon CEO Gustavo Valle.

The open secret to JetBlue’s success isn’t strong financials or having the best seats or airfares—although the company has them, Barger said. “At the end of the day, that can all be replicated,” he said. “It does come down to the human equation. It’s our frontline crew members who are making the difference.”

When Freeman opened the discussion to students, some wanted to know about the industry’s future (expect better in-flight entertainment, faster check-in, and satellite-based cockpit navigation), his day-to-day life (“Do you want people to leave the room now?”), and his most beneficial college experience (his political science courses at the University of Michigan).

But on the tip of everyone’s tongue was: what advice does Barger have for job seekers?

“Don’t take the first thing that comes along,” he said. “Look for places that stretch you, if you want to be stretched. Make sure that they stretch you.”

Read the full article on BU Today.

Photos by Kalman Zabarsky via BU Today

Wall Street Journal Features Dean Freeman in “The Experts”

March 13th, 2013 in Dean Freeman, News

Dean joins exclusive group of thought leaders tapped for in-depth online discussions

The Wall Street Journal recently launched an online portal called The Experts, an “exclusive group of industry and thought leaders who will engage in in-depth online discussions” through video chats and short online posts in response to timely questions.

Fellow featured thought leaders include Siemens CEO Eric Spiegel, Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, and Bernard Yeung, Dean of the National University of Singapore Business School.

Dean Freeman recently responded to the question, “What do you see as the most important thing leaders can do to spur innovation at their institutions?

Leaders need to make it acceptable for employees to challenge the status quo in their companies. We very often become so committed to sustaining our current book of business that we consider activities that are not directly linked to it to be a distraction. Create skunk works to enable creativity and new ideas. Provide seed funding and protection for those that think unconventionally. Reward failure and learn from it.

Dean Freeman also weighed in on the query, “Do you think companies spend too much money hiring ‘superstar’ CEOS from outside their ranks?

The issue isn’t about cost, it is about capability. The board’s primary role is selection and evaluation of the CEO. Each company situation and each CEO is different. Providing a one-size-fits-all solution as suggested by the study makes no practical sense. Lack of talent is a common complaint in virtually every company. Every board should ensure that a strong pipeline of internal candidates for CEO succession is in place, and at the same time consider external candidates when it is time to put a new CEO in the role.  Select the candidate with the best collection of skills to perform the role, keeping in mind that we know much more about the leadership characteristics of internal candidates than those coming in from the outside, even those that are viewed as “rock stars.” Pay competitively in every instance, keeping a singular focus on the CEO that has the highest probability of successfully creating long-term value. The performance of the leader selected is what will count most–setting the strategy, creating the culture and achieving exceptional results–not whether they came from inside or outside the company.

Read what Dean Freeman and fellow experts are saying about the latest topics for the Wall Street Journal.

Conversations with Ken: John Ryan, President of the Center for Creative Leadership

March 13th, 2013 in Conversations with Ken, Dean Freeman, News

John Ryan, President of the Center for Creative Leadership
Watch Ken Freeman, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean at Boston University School of Management, as he interviews and explores vital issues in leadership with John Ryan, President of the Center for Creative Leadership, former Chancellor of the State University of New York, former Superintendent (President) of the US Naval Academy, and US Navy Vice Admiral (retired).

Dean Freeman Named a Top 100 CEO by HBR

January 22nd, 2013 in Dean Freeman, Faculty in the News, News, School

Freeman served as CEO of Quest Diagnostics from 1996-2004

Many business leaders are criticized for fixating on short-term goals at the expense of long-term performance. So which global CEOs actually delivered solid results over the long run? The 2013 Harvard Business Review‘s CEO Scorecard provided an objective answer to this question, and named Allen Questrom Professor and Dean Kenneth W. Freeman the 76th best-performing CEO in the world.

Dean Freeman served as Chief Executive Officer of Quest Diagnostics Incorporated from 1996-2004. He also appeared on HBR‘s first CEO Scorecard in 2010, where he was ranked 67th in the world. This year, the pool of CEOs studied increased by roughly one-third, from 1,999 in 2010 to 3,143 this year, due to the inclusion of additional emerging-market indexes.

According to Harvard Business Review, the goal of the CEO Scorecard is to shine a spotlight on the CEOs worldwide who created long-term value for their companies, and to give executives critical benchmarks they could aim for. The top 100 CEOs on the list performed exceptionally well, delivering on average a total shareholder return of 1,385% during their tenures and increasing their firms’ market value by $40.2 billion.

HBR‘s 2013 CEO Scorecard assesses the long-term performance of each CEO, from the first day on the job to the last, by looking at how much total shareholder returns changed over that time period (adjusting for country and industry effects). While Dean Freeman served as CEO of Quest Diagnostics, the leading provider of medical diagnostic testing services, total shareholder return was 1,014% (country adjusted), or 1,102% (industry adjusted).

During his tenure at Quest Diagnostics, Dean Freeman executed a dramatic financial turnaround by establishing industry leadership, effecting expansion through acquisition, and driving organic growth. Quest Diagnostics provided the third highest five-year shareholder returns among the Fortune 500 (1999-2003), and in 2004 was named to the Bloomberg Businessweek 50. The company’s market capitalization increased from approximately $350 million at the time of its spinoff from predecessor company Corning Clinical Laboratories in 1996 to more than $9 billion. Read more about Dean Freeman’s professional background.

The list’s top 5 CEOs are Steve Jobs (Apple), Jeffrey P. Bezos (, Yun Jong-Yong (Samsung Electronics), Roger Agnelli (Vale), and John C. Martin (Gilead Sciences). See the complete list on

Conversations with Ken: Career Advice from NYT’s Adam Bryant

October 16th, 2012 in Conversations with Ken, Dean Freeman, News

Career advice from New York Times editor Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant, New York Times Senior Features Editor, spoke at Boston University School of Management about the patterns, themes, and lessons shared with him by CEOs of companies like Foursquare, Hill Holiday, Panera Bread, and Pfizer.

Dean Freeman on SMG’s Second Century with WTBU

October 2nd, 2012 in Dean Freeman, News, School

Dean Kenneth Freeman and WTBU News' Kyle Clauss. Photo by Monica Mendoza via WTBU.

Dean Kenneth Freeman and WTBU News' Kyle Clauss. Photo by Monica Mendoza via WTBU.

Summary from WTBU:

When he graduated from a Bucknell University, Kenneth Freeman had little idea where he would go from there. Now, he’s a dean of the School of Management of a different BU, after serving as CEO of Quest Diagnostics, Inc. and as a partner of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., the world’s foremost private equity firm.

Dean Freeman sat down with WTBU News’ Kyle Clauss to discuss the School of Management’s upcoming second century, the school’s new focuses and technology, and how it can compete with giants like Harvard Business School and MIT’s Sloan.

Dean Freeman also gives a few glimpses inside his personal life, from his typical Starbucks order, to his Monopoly strategies, to the chances of him tickling the ivories at the SMG faculty Christmas party.

Listen to Dean Freeman’s interview with WTBU News.

Dean Freeman’s Plans for Future of SMG Featured in Poets & Quants, Fortune

June 22nd, 2012 in Dean Freeman, Faculty, News, School, Sectors

Dean Freeman Classroom

Today, the website Poets & Quants and Fortune magazine online feature Allen Questrom Professor and Dean Ken Freeman‘s very big plans for the School of Management’s future: to “ultimately convince people that there are really three elite business schools in Boston.”

Below are excerpts from the article on Poets & Quants:

The school has identified the three sectors of the economy where it believes, in [Dean Freeman's] words, “there will be more job creation, more financial market creation, and more value creation for societies, communities and countries over the next five, ten and 20 years.” With faculty approval gained earlier this year, Freeman is now aligning the school’s professors, research, and curriculum around the three growth areas.

The three are health care and life sciences, digital technology, and alternative energy and sustainability. In academia where loyalty is to a discipline rather than an industry or economic sector, Freeman, 62, is attempting a revolutionary change in both mindset and behavior. Whether the Harvard MBA can pull it off is anyone’s guess, but the odds are certainly not in his favor.

The three [sectors] are health care and life sciences, digital technology, and alternative energy and sustainability. In academia where loyalty is to a discipline rather than an industry or economic sector, Freeman…is attempting a revolutionary change in both mindset and behavior.

To make those sectors an integral part of Boston’s culture and approach, Freeman plans to recruit new faculty, create academic centers in each field, launch global case competitions in each area, and infuse much of the coursework with case studies and experiential projects in each of the three industries. “We’re recruiting for specific disciplines but we are also doing it with a twist by focusing on specialization in digital technology, the health sector or energy,” he says. “We want to create leading global institutes in each of these sectors to engage faculty here and with other institutions. For us to be distinguished, we have to have cutting-edge research in these fields.”

For incoming students, the focus on those three areas starts immediately. “When students arrive we provide them with a brief overview of those sectors and then they move through the traditional management discipline training,” adds Freeman. “We are transforming case content to reflect these sectors much more so than the traditional sectors of the past. And the classroom discussions will be supplemented by lectures from today’s executives in these fields.”

To read the full articles, visit Poets & Quants and Fortune.

Articles by John A. Byrne

Conversations with Ken: Ed Weiss, Boston Red Sox General Counsel

June 12th, 2012 in Conversations with Ken, Dean Freeman, News, Uncategorized

Weiss shares inside story of Fenway Sports Group

Ed Weiss, General Counsel of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group, visited the School of Management in Spring 2012 and told Dean Ken Freeman the inside story about the Sox owners’ purchase of a famous soccer team in Liverpool, their investment in a NASCAR team, and NESN. Their discussion is part of our new “Conversations with Ken” video series.

“Where I Work”: Dean Freeman’s New Office in WSJ

June 11th, 2012 in Dean Freeman, News


Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal:

Talk about transparency: Ken Freeman, dean of the Boston University School of Management, works in a small cubicle smack in the middle of the building’s busiest floor, with a floor-to-ceiling wall overlooking the hectic atrium.

Freeman, 61, ditched his more formal office last summer, after just one year in the space. Gone is the assistant-as-gatekeeper. (She’s still upstairs, near his old office.) Gone is the wood paneling and privacy. (See glass wall, above.) Gone, too, is the air of inaccessibility that envelops many executive suites.

The old office is being converted into a meeting room that will comfortably hold 20 around a conference table. His new one measures less than 200 square feet, he estimates.

Freeman, who joined Boston University in summer 2010 after seven years as CEO of Quest Diagnostics Inc. and then as a partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., spoke with The Wall Street Journal about his cramped-by-choice quarters…

See the Wall Street Journal‘s Q&A with Dean Freeman here.

SMG Launches Digital Learning Studio

April 5th, 2012 in Academic Departments, Dean Freeman, Digital Technology Sector, Faculty, News, School, Strategy & Innovation

New Classroom Empowers New Learning Styles

Students at work in Room 326

Students at work in Room 326

On a recent morning in the new Digital Learning Studio (DLS), graduate students and tech supporters were clicking mice and dragging files onto big LCD screens when they got a blast from the pedagogical past.

As they peered at 42-inch screens on their “team walls,” another frame popped up on their screens. In it was a lecturing professor pointing to numbers on an overhead projector. Everyone stared for a minute, like aerospace workers eyeing a horse-drawn carriage. Strategy and Innovation Professor Venkat Venkatraman quickly realized the overhead projector was on a live feed from an SMG auditorium.

“That’s exactly what we’re trying to retire,” quipped Venkatraman, David J. McGrath, Jr. Professor in Management: “four hundred students in a dark room listening to a lecture.”

The Digital Learning Studio, which went online January 17, has put the School of Management and BU at the forefront of the high-tech learning revolution with an array of hardware and software configured to stimulate collaboration and engage learners. Room 326 is “where management education is heading,” said Dean Kenneth Freeman. “Less lecturing, more doing.”

After 70 years of business school education in the traditional amphitheater style classroom “it’s time for a change,” Dean Ken Freeman said. “Digital technology enables us to move from historical case studies developed over a period of months or even several years to real-time experiences, engaging CEOs and other leaders in companies from around the world on current issues, in the classroom, and enabling our students to address today’s problems in small groups.”

According to Venkatraman, the faculty member who has spearheaded the creation of the DLS, a number of factors, including the accelerated move by for-profit universities toward web-based learning, affect business management schooling.

Not “online” for its own sake

He said, “We must innovate not by delivering the same model of online education but by blending individual learning through rich-media lectures and interactions in classrooms through debates, dialogues, and conversations with industry executives that deepen and broaden the education and development of insights.”

True to the tradition of a strong focus on fundamentals, the core curriculum and first year courses are still going to be taught the current way, Venkatraman assures. “What happens in a first-year class doesn’t change,” he said. But more advanced undergraduate course and many graduate classes, particularly in digital technology, will take advantage of the bells and whistles in Room 326 and others. Venkatraman said, “We’re bringing current relevant cases and executives right into the class.”

Indeed just two days before the overhead projector feed interrupted his class, Venkatraman presided over a starkly different learning experience in a graduate level class in which he hosted videoconference “visits” from a cloud computing expert in Massachusetts and a digital innovation expert from Volkswagen in the Midwest. The students in the class were divided into teams representing the interests of Microsoft and Google teams to tackle a real-life problem. They then got feedback from the industry executives who wanted to test the problem on people who were not already steeped in the Google and Microsoft cultures to see if they would reach different conclusions than those inside the companies.

“The value is to create something together or to solve a problem for a company in real time,” said Venkatraman.

Eric Whitney (MS•MBA’12) said the class that was tele-visited by the executives was more intense than a typical visiting lecture class.

“You’re getting the perspective that’s happening right now,” he said, rather than working on a settled case might be two years old or older. “Some of us had only gotten through a draft version of a presentation,” Whitney said. “Then the Volkswagen exec came in and gave feedback on a project that was continuing on.”

And the executives were pleased with the student’s insights. Erica Hansen (MS•MBA’12) said, “They were interested in how someone outside the industry looks at the opportunities, and we validated input they were getting.”

The bonus of the learning studio is that executives from elsewhere in the country or around the globe can take an hour or less out of their schedule to drop by the class virtually rather than take a minimum of a half day to attend in person.

Easier access for executives

An executive from Ericsson, the Swedish communications company that sponsors the International Tech Strategy Business Case Competition at SMG, was on hand when Whitney and Hansen were running the software through its paces. He marveled at what he saw.

“It’s pretty exciting to see this,” said Ericsson’s Steve Newman. “This is the beginning of something really important.”

The DLS has rolled out with both excitement and no small amount of consternation. The contractors turned over the to SMG on Jan. 13, 2012 and just four days later the first class was held at 8 a.m. There was little time for faculty to learn how to adapt their curriculum, said Greg DeFronzo, SMG’s information technology services director. During the initial phase, DeFronzo has assigned either a member of his staff or a student employee to operate the equipment, troubleshoot at each class, and work out glitches and software bugs on a minute-to minute basis.

The classroom was built from bare walls to a $1 million technological marvel over the Christmas break. Its early success, by many accounts, is due to a tremendous amount of teamwork and flexibility among the faculty, ITS staff, and student ITS employees.

What makes the DLS the innovation leader is not a single technology or feature but the configuration and combination of software, facilities and design, said DeFronzo. The SMG team looked at what was being done at other management schools such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Fuqua School of Business at Duke, and the Sloan School of Management at MIT, cherry-picking features that are promising now and also will grow as technology changes, DeFronzo explained. See the sidebar How We Did It for technical details.

Let the experiments begin

Some classes try out different applications including Prezi, cloud-based storytelling software, said Margaret Costello (BSBA’12), who has been doing tech support in the DLS.

The technology is just one piece of the equation. The other side is what to do with it. Faculty members, some of whom have been assigned to the room simply because classroom space is scarce, have had to adapt their lessons to an utterly different teaching environment.

“It’s a different mode of teaching,” said Finance Lecturer Keith Osher, who says he’s not all that tech-savvy but has overhauled his Modeling Business Decisions and Market Outcomes class to fit the room.

“The classroom is for collaborative learning. It’s learning much more by doing than by listening to someone in the front of the room,” Osher said.

In contrast to most statistics classes, students in Osher’s class work solve Excel problems by collaborating on which formulas they need and what the data means, according to a class blog. For instance, students in recent classes have taken data from Boston Scientific and created histograms and regression tables with one another.

“Mr. Osher has grasped a great way to have students be more interactive in the class,” said Sean Flaherty (BSBA’13), an ITS student employee doing faculty support.

It’s not easy to adjust to a classroom where there is no lectern and students are facing in opposite directions around long tables. That’s where Jeanne Myers, an educational technologist working on her PhD in education, comes in. She has been helping faculty members assigned to teach in Room 326 adapt their lessons to exploit the potential of the studio.

“It’s a matter of working with faculty to brainstorm and to engage the students as active partners,” she said. “Most of the faculty members are used to delivering lectures through Powerpoint, but that dynamic changes too through the use of multiple screens,” Myers said. “They have to think about how to best use the time they are in that room.”

Teaching the faculty too

Myers has hosted faculty group meetings to share best practices as well as glitches and lessons learned. She has shared an extensive list of ways to adapt traditional learning approaches to the innovation studio, including problem-based or project learning and tournament learning or a competition of ideas. There are several ways to divide a project among several groups of students to solve a piece of it and then send a “teacher” from their team to share the team’s findings as the rest of the class views their slide on the main screen at the front of the room. This generation is so visually driven, Myers said, that the students catch on quickly and adapt to new ways of learning with technology.

The room design allows for students to see multiple versions or multiple parts of a larger whole, Myers explained. The approach is designed to help students connect the segments. “The real bang for your buck is in the preparation phase. What can you do prior to class in order to use the time in the lab wisely?”

Associate Professor of Strategy and Innovation Jeffrey Furman, whose undergraduate honors class meets in the room, said he is excited about its potential.

“Instead of operating as the conductor of an orchestra you have to be more of a juggler and the manager of a three-ring circus.” He knows he has work to do to exploit its potential as a complement to the old-fashioned setup. ” I have to go back to the drawing board to learn how to teach in the room. I can see how it can increase the value of all my classes.”

Faculty members have been gung-ho about reworking lectures but even the classroom design and implementation team has been surprised by what the learning studio has to offer. And now professors who were alone in a room with the students are having all sorts of company with IT staffers and students on hand.

Innovating on the fly

Steve X. Chen (BSBA’12) has been involved in the classroom early on and is now taking a course in the room as well. “I’ve been involved in the design, implementation, training, and troubleshooting–the latter is the longest phase of all,” he said with a grin. At the end of each class, Chen or one of his student IT employee brethren saves the lecture and all the high-tech components into something akin to an iBook that is made available to the whole class for downloading.

Even as the rollout continues, student employees Chen, Jamison Kissh (BSBA’13), and Kenny Sun (BSBA’12) are brainstorming about what’s next. One night recently, they contacted DeFronzo with an idea: Using Wii technology, they could create virtual smart board on any wall, no board required. DeFronzo greenlighted the trio to go to Best Buy to pick up the components they needed to test out their idea.

“By 8:30 p.m. they had a prototype to set up in rooms with no LCD screens, such as teamrooms or potentially capture notes written on a traditional chalkboard” DeFronzo said.

Where the learning studio goes from here is still being fleshed out.

In the short term, Venkatraman said, “I see it beginning in the digital technology sector curriculum and adapted over time for the health care and energy sectors. The philosophy is that the classroom becomes a welcoming place for debate and dialogue that builds off material that the students have mastered through readings, videos, and other interactive materials.”

By Judy Rakowsky