Deans & Execs To Jam On MBA’s Future

Business Jam

What’s the future of business education? How will what is taught in a mainstream MBA program change in coming years?

Several thousand people are expected to join two dozen business school deans and chief executives to publicly ponder those questions during a three-day, interactive online conference organized by the Boston University School of Management.

Business Education Jam: Envisioning the Future” runs from Sept. 30-Oct. 2, worldwide and cost free.

Harvard's Clay Christensen is a masterful, spell-binding teacher and one of the world's great thought leaders

Harvard’s Clay Christensen is a masterful, spell-binding teacher and one of the world’s great thought leaders

“This is a big deal,” says Ken Freeman, dean of Boston University’s School of Management. “We’ll do 60 consecutive hours of jamming. We are using IBM’s platform which has been used by more than 100 corporate clients to engage in a global conversation about business education.”

Freeman says the “Jam” will evolve around 10 core themes. “One key question we’ll address is how do we build a better bridge between industry and academia?,” he says. “The world is changing so fast and we need to change to remain relevant and impactful. It strikes me as very odd that there has never been a significant conversation between industry and academia. There have been a few seminars and symposia’s on the future of liberal arts but it is all conversation in silos. It’s academics talking to academics. This will be different.”


Among the high-profile business school administrators and academics scheduled to participate are innovation guru Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School; Richard K. Lyons, dean of the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business; David Schmittlein, dean of MIT’s Sloan School of Business; Andrea Backman, dean of the Jack Welch Management Institute; and Karl Ulrich, vice-dean of innovation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Prominent business leaders include Rick Chavez, general manager of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group; IBM managing director Jeanette Horan, American Express chief HR officer L. Kevin Cox; and Coca-Cola senior VP Ceree Eberly.

Among other VIPs listed to participate are John Reid-Dodick, chief people officer at Dun & Bradstreet; Ernst & Young partner Peter Rohan; PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S. and global talent leader Michael J. Fenlon; former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Barbara Franklin; and Poets&Quants Editor-in-Chief John A. Byrne.

Wharton Vice Dean for Innovation Karl Ulrich

Wharton Vice Dean for Innovation Karl Ulrich


The virtual conference is called a “jam” because it’s intended to share the qualities of a musical jam session. “A jam session is about bouncing ideas, skills and styles off your fellow members to expand and be inspired,” the event website says.

Organizers describe the virtual conference as similar to a chat room. It’s open to anyone with a computer or mobile device and the internet. Participants must register, then log in.

The event homepage will display 10 forums (listed below). A click on a forum will bring up a page with a main question, top tags, most popular posts, and a list of threads under discussion. Results from periodic polls will pop up in chart and graph form. Alerts will be posted when VIP guests join in.

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