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Andrew Gaudes is the new dean at the Goodman School of Business at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., as of July 1, 2017.

The Globe's monthly business school news roundup.

Andrew Gaudes was already confirmed for a second term on July 1 as business school dean at the University of Regina when, as he put it, "an opportunity fell into my lap."

That opportunity also takes effect July 1 when he becomes dean of Goodman School of Business at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. His appointment was announced this month.

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"This was just a compelling opportunity to be at another great school and bring it into an elevated profile," he says, of his unexpected decision to head east to Ontario.

With 3,382 students, Goodman is almost twice as big as Regina's Paul J. Hill School of Business and the Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business, where Dr. Gaudes has served as dean since 2012. Despite the size difference, he sees strong similarities between the two institutions with their emphasis on co-operative education and international study opportunities for students.

Not surprisingly, the incoming dean expects to be in a listening mode on arrival at Goodman. But he is unambiguous about the value of student-focused programming and institutional collaboration.

"We are all on campus for a reason and one shared reason should be the success of students," he says. "Any institution and organization has to understand that no matter where you are in ranking, rating and accreditation, you are only as successful as your relationships."

At Regina, he encouraged co-operation with other faculties on campus, expanded student internships and supported a new MBA program that includes a mandatory international study tour. Since 2012, undergraduate business enrolment has climbed 41 per cent, with significant growth in the diversity of the student body, according to Dr. Gaudes.

As important as a focus on students is the potential for collaboration with other faculties, business schools and community organizations, he says. At Regina, he expanded the Levene graduate school's case-writing relationship with Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario and promoted a partnership with the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan and the Institute of Corporate Directors to train board directors in Saskatchewan.

As at Regina, Dr. Gaudes takes the reins at Goodman after repeated leadership turnover. He succeeds Barry Wright, interim dean for two years after replacing Don Cyr, who unexpectedly returned to the faculty after two years on the job (and serving as interim dean for 16 months before that). At Regina, Dr. Gaudes says he replaced an interim dean who filled in after the then-dean held the post for just three years and a previous dean left abruptly.

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"I have experienced it before," he says, of taking over after a succession of leadership changes. "What I think is important going into a place that might be wondering about self-identity and what the future looks like is to confirm the skill sets and the strengths within the school."

To that end, he says, "It is really important to galvanize the existing strengths and to validate the things that people are doing and setting a course that leverages that."

Business analytics on the West Coast

In recent years, business schools have added specialty degree programs to capitalize on industry demand for professionals with skills to interpret data and explain the bottom-line significance to senior management.

Add the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business to the growing roster of those offering a master of business analytics. Sauder's new program, the first in Western Canada offered through a business school, will be available this September. It replaces a previous graduate program with a more narrow focus on improving operations in an organization.

"It became clear to us that if we want our students to address the problems that industry is facing that we needed to be broader than the traditional [master of management in operation research] was giving them," says Harish Krishnan, academic director for the new business analytics degree and director of Sauder's Centre for Operations Research. "This [new] program is more focused on data, such as text analytics, with a requirement for more data handling skills, data analysis and machine learning."

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The nine-month master of business analytics is shorter in length than the previous 16-month operations research degree, but carries the same number of credits. After completing their academic studies, students have the option to sign up for a summer-long internship with a company to work on its data analytics challenges.

Dr. Krishnan's centre has a long-established relationship with companies who hire interns to work on specific data-related projects. "We noticed over the years that the kind of problems [industry] partners were coming to us with were evolving," he says. "We have done a number of projects in the last few years where partners say we have all this data in the form of text and we want to understand what we can learn from it."

The inaugural class of about 30 students is expected to double in size over time, given demand from industry, according to Dr. Krishnan.

Dawen Nozdryn-Plotnicki, director of advanced analytics for Boeing Vancouver, says data analytics "is a pretty hot field" that poses challenges for employers to recruit graduates with the appropriate mix of technical and communication skills.

"It is not just about being a math whiz," she warns. "It's about having people who can bridge analytics and the analysis to a business audience and be able to make a business impact. …There are a lot of soft skills that go into successfully doing the work."

Ms. Nozdryn-Plotnicki, a Sauder graduate, says the school's new master program has the potential to enlarge the pipeline of data analysts in short supply globally. "It means we will have more access to talent locally and hopefully it [the program] will attract talent from everywhere else."

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Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net

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