Some academic theories might be best understood by the people who put those theories into practice.
Practitioners who teach have their failures as well as their successes on display for students. They also serve as a sounding board for students seeking practical career advice.
Business schools have come to value the practitioner’s perspective, and they are increasingly making room for those viewpoints on their staffs. Bloomberg Businessweek identified 25 top executives who teach/guest lecture, including Neil Braun, Dean of the Lubin School of Business.
Neil Braun: Viacom Entertainment
Who: Chief executive officer, Viacom Entertainment (VIA), 1988-94; president, NBC Television Network, 1994-98
Where: Pace University’s Lubin School of Business
What: Dean, guest lecturer
Braun joined a growing list of former executives tapped to run business schools when he was named dean of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in June 2010. Braun also flits in and out of the classroom as a guest lecturer. He says he has his most rapt audience any time the discussion topic is M&A negotiations. During his time at Viacom, the company bought Blockbuster and Paramount Pictures. “Students hang on every word when you can tell them what was really going on,” he says of those deals in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Most CEOs spend the latter years of their professional lives giving presentations in high-pressure board rooms for select groups of middle-aged power brokers, not in lecture halls filled with green but eager business students. However, a few such as Neil Braun, Dean of Pace’s Lubin School of Business and former President of NBC Television Network, have opted to venture into the world of higher education … using their corporate experience to mold a new generation of top executives.
Neil Braun, dean of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business and former CEO of Viacom Entertainment: Having worked as the top executive at numerous firms—including entertainment giant Viacom—during his 33-year career, and no longer satisfied with the rewards of his day job, Braun told U.S. News & World Report that he yearned to impart the knowledge he’d gleaned to a younger generation. After searching for vacant administrative positions at business schools in the New York metropolitan area, he landed at Pace in 2010, where, in addition to serving as dean, he routinely meets with student leaders and gave guest lectures in eight classes during the past year on topics ranging from leadership to competitive strategy.
Beyond the detailed advice he offers in those lectures, he advises all business students to learn to write well, to hone one very difficult analytical skill, and to familiarize themselves with areas of business outside of their specialty. Data analysts, for instance, should be able to freely converse with marketers about their duties, and vice versa, he says.
“I wish somebody had clued me in to some of this stuff when I was young, and contextualized all the trauma I had to go through—like we all do—in trying to figure this out,” he says. “I’m not being naïve in thinking that just by telling them I’m going to save them from anything, but I do get E-mails and feedback from people that they took one or two really important things that have made a difference in their lives.”