Deans and Directors’ Programme – Participant perspectives


By Dr Spinder Dhaliwal

So what does it take to be a Dean?

The Deans and Directors’ Programme (3DP) gives a fascinating insight to the life and work of a Dean. Speakers included current and ex Deans from the pre 92s and the more traditional Universities.

Each Dean gave an honest account of their experiences. The job of a Dean, it seems, is complex, emotionally draining, lonely and includes many dark nights with difficult decisions and even more challenging people. However, it also enables one to be creative, inspirational and at the cutting edge of world leading business schools.

Over the four sessions, discussions ranged from gaining accreditations to raising NSS scores and league table places as well as building an international reputation. The highlight of the programme was a one-off visit to Toulouse business school and a trip to the Airbus assembly lines. It was fascinating to see how they are put together.  Like the world’s best aircraft, Deans too need to be versatile, strategic and strong.

Talking of Deans, of all the Deans in the world, it had to be my ex- Dean, Professor Bob O’Keefe who facilitated the programme. Other speakers included Ruth Ashford, Sharon Mavin, Nick Oliver, Paul Croney, Jerry Forrester, Stephen Perkins and Julie Davies.

It was useful to learn about the recruitment process for Deans, from the long list from the headhunters to the short list and then interview stage, and what they are looking for. The adverts themselves were scrutinised to assess what type of role was being sought for.

As a Dean, and I speak from aspiration not experience, we are members of an exclusive club. Once you become a member, you stay one and move around. A few have gone on to be VCs, but rarely from business schools. I have nothing to go on except evidence but it appears that the lifespan of a Dean in office is short, around 3-5 years and you need to be thick-skinned.

Still interested?

Spinder Dhaliwal

Dr Spinder Dhaliwal
Westminster Business School
University of Westminster


To find out more or register for the Deans and Directors’ Programme (3DP) click here.