Focusing on Job One

From the Dean Illustration

In November, I had the pleasure of addressing an audience of alumni and parents as part of my annual State of the School homecoming address. For this year’s talk, I highlighted our dramatic growth, the exceptional quality of our students and the innovative new programs we’ve introduced in the last several years, but the topic everyone in attendance was most interested in — and it wasn’t even close — was jobs.

Current parents and alumni wanted to know which fields and companies are the most popular now with our graduates. Parents also wanted to know how their students can find jobs. And everyone wanted to know what we’re doing to ensure our students are prepared to succeed in the workplace. This focus wasn’t surprising. We educate students to make a difference in the world, and a first step toward achieving that goal is finding a job that leverages their unique talents and abilities. Students today increasingly tell us, however, that they don’t want just any job. They want a job with purpose and meaning. They want a job that’s more than just a paycheck.

A few years ago, as part of our long-term strategic plan, we began looking more closely at our career services function to ensure that we are doing everything we can to help students find the best opportunities given their interests, abilities, values and skills. Overall, we were pleased with what we found. Employers told us  our students typically “need a shorter runway,” meaning they bring skills to the workplace that allow them to begin creating value sooner than peers from other schools. They also told us that our students are more committed than some of their peers. They aren’t looking for their next jobs two weeks after starting. They want to establish their personal brand and build a career.

We also heard some requests. Employers told us they were looking for more robust modeling skills. After investigating a number of commercially available packages and determining that they weren’t sufficient, we developed our own Excel course to make certain our students have the skills they need. This online course, which was offered for the first time during the fall term, emphasizes the use of Excel for modeling. Ensuring that our students have the right skills is one part of the equation, but the other part is ensuring that our students have the right opportunities.

A few years ago, Bloomberg Businessweek started to publish a list of the 100 companies most admired by graduating students. These companies
included firms like Google, Apple, PwC and Goldman Sachs. At the time, we were not doing well in terms of attracting these most desired employers to campus. I’m proud to say that under the leadership of Dale Klamfoth, whom in 2017 we brought in to lead our Career Management Center, we now have more than 80 of these top 100 employers coming to campus each year to interview — and hire — our students, a sign that the Freeman brand is stronger than ever.

The feature story of this issue of Freeman Business is focused on the Career Management Center and details some of the changes Dale and
his staff have instituted to prepare students to manage their careers, not only as new recruits but throughout their professional lives. One of the most crucial pieces in transforming the CMC to meet this ambitious goal was expanding and enhancing its physical plant. Tulane parent Irwin Simon, who serves on the Tulane Board of Trustees, recognized this need, so in 2017 he and his wife, Daryl, made a substantial gift to support the construction of the Simon Family Career Management Center Suite, which dramatically expanded the CMC’s footprint in the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex. The Simons’ gift enabled us to create space for career consultants, interview suites — including rooms outfitted with state-of-the-art technology for remote interviews — and a spacious new recruiters’ lounge to better serve organizational representatives who come to campus to interview our students.

Irwin’s long career as the founder and CEO of Hain Celestial Group, one of the world’s leading organic and natural foods companies, gives him unique insight into the needs of business and the CMC’s role in helping to prepare students for the workplace. The cover story of this issue profiles Irwin and tells the fascinating story of his journey from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, to the top of the consumer packaged goods industry to his newest role as chairman and interim CEO of Aphria Inc., one of Canada’s largest cannabis companies.

Irwin and Daryl have been invaluable friends and supporters of Tulane and the Freeman School, so I’m delighted to highlight Irwin’s remarkable story in this issue of Freeman Business. With partners like Irwin and Daryl, I’m confident that the Freeman School will continue to grow, thrive and fulfil its mission to be one of the world’s premier business schools.

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