Columbia Business School will launch the pilot phase of the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) this spring, part of the School’s ongoing efforts to prepare its students for inclusive and ethical leadership roles.
Beginning at orientation, all MBA, EMBA, MS, and PhD students will take an initial assessment that will serve as a baseline for their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) skillsets. Students will then be introduced to PPIL as part of their core leadership classes and will be required to participate in at least one PPIL-approved event each semester. Throughout their CBS journey, students will have reflection assignments and assessments to measure progress and note areas in need of improvement.
“The Pathway gives students an awareness of their own cultural competencies and biases,” says Gita Johar, vice dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, who helped develop the program. “During their time at CBS, every student will attend trainings and workshops that can help them improve their proficiencies in critical areas.”
Mariah Celestine ’20 and Camira Livers-Powell ’20, who co-created the program as part of an independent study project with Professor Johar, describe the out-of-classroom experience as a “choose your own adventure” program that gives students the freedom to explore different areas of DEI, dig into elevated discussions, and actively learn from their peers.
“Camira and I have partnered with every center, program, and student organization on campus to offer programming that brings DEI issues to the very forefront of the conversation,” Celestine says. “This allows students to navigate to the sessions that are most interesting to them.”
The program is named for the late CBS Professor Katherine Phillips, one of the world’s leading experts on diversity in teams and organizations. The program’s creators say PPIL honors her life’s work and positions CBS as an institution that empowers future leaders to advocate for diversity and equity in their personal and professional endeavors—a competency many business leaders feel is needed now more than ever.
“One of the things we wanted to make clear was that DEI is in everything; it’s not a standalone, one-hour session that you go through at work,” Livers-Powell says. “DEI exists across functions, fields, and industries, and the more you can understand the importance of building equitable systems and creating inclusive environments as a leader, the more likely you are to catch the moments that aren’t going right.”
Modupe Akinola, a leading expert on diversity as well as workplace stress, has been named faculty director of the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics.
In this new role, Akinola will build on the work of the late Katherine W. Phillips, her colleague, and the center’s former director, engaging faculty leaders, enhancing the student experience as it relates to leadership and ethics, and sponsoring and promoting research. She also plans to focus on developing new initiatives to expand the scope of the center’s activities and its engagement with Columbia’s alumni base and outside audiences.
In announcing Akinola’s appointment, Dean Costis Maglaras noted that she assumes the role at a pivotal moment in the conversation about the need for more diverse and equitable workplaces. “Today the world is witnessing sweeping changes that will no doubt call for more ethical leadership and demand approaches to governance that address systemic inequality. I am confident that with Modupe’s expertise, creativity, and vision, the Bernstein Center will continue to be at the forefront of ethics and leadership education in business schools and beyond.”
An associate professor in the Management Division, Akinola joined the Columbia Business School faculty in 2009. She holds a BA, MBA, MA, and PhD, all from Harvard University. Her research explores how organizational environments can engender stress, and how this stress can influence individual and organizational performance. She also studies the strategies companies use to increase diversity, as well as the biases that affect the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in organizations. She has authored numerous publications, and her work has been covered in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among other outlets. She has received multiple awards, including the 2015 CBS Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Todd Jick, a renowned authority in leadership and organizational change, has been appointed the Reuben Mark Faculty Director of Organizational Character and Leadership. In this role, Jick will oversee the initiative’s thought leadership, including curriculum development, research promotion, and external engagement. Together with counterparts at the Law School, he will bring students together to understand the dynamic relationship between the business and legal functions of an organization as it relates to culture and human capital management.
A longtime senior lecturer in the Management Division and an advisor to Fortune 500 executives, Jick created two popular courses at the School: Organizational Change and Advanced Organizational Change, and has twice won the Singhvi Prize for Scholarship in the Classroom as selected by the graduating class, most recently in 2019.
Jick’s textbook, Managing Change, has been a leading publication in the field for the last 15 years. In addition to teaching at CBS, Jick has also taught at Harvard Business School, INSEAD, and London Business School.
The Directorship was established with a gift from Reuben Mark, former chairman and chief executive officer of the Colgate-Palmolive Company, as part of the Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership. Housed in the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics, the Initiative brings together Columbia’s Business and Law Schools to teach the leadership skills and strategies necessary to create an optimal organizational culture across the disciplines.
Thanks to what Dean Costis Maglaras calls an “intensely collaborative effort” by Columbia Business School faculty and staff, in-person classes continue to be taught at CBS, making it one of the only schools at the University to allow students on campus during the pandemic.
“Our efforts to offer extensive in-person programming at the School have led the reopening of instruction at Columbia’s Morningside campus. It has also differentiated us from many of our peer schools, many of which have been doing remote teaching during the pandemic,” says Maglaras. [Hear from Dean Costis Maglaras about his experience giving lectures in HyFlex.]
Since the start of the Fall 2020 semester, CBS has been operating in a teaching mode known as HyFlex, offering a blend of in-person and virtual learning. Small groups of students take turns joining class in person while others participate remotely, ensuring that social distancing requirements are met while also allowing students to spend time on campus. All students and faculty wear masks in the classrooms, which are also cleaned thoroughly between uses.
Last spring, the pandemic forced the School to pivot quickly and hold the remainder of the spring semester entirely online. Over the summer, the School designed the HyFlex model to provide students with the opportunity to attend classes in person, and meet and collaborate with faculty and with one another without compromising health and safety.
Developing HyFlex meant the School invested in extensive technological upgrades, installing 50- to 70-inch monitors in the classrooms to fully integrate students attending remotely with those taking part in person. It also meant that faculty redesigned their classes, incorporating more breakout rooms and small-group discussions. Professors also received training on best practices for remote learning.
Since the fall, the School has been offering the entire core curriculum and half of the electives in the HyFlex model. The rest are being offered online, with students joining via Zoom. In the fall, nearly 170 course sections were taught in the HyFlex model; this spring, more than 140 class sections are being taught in HyFlex.
Since March, a speaker series designed to keep people connected during the pandemic has been offering students and alumni the chance to gain access to insights given by top business leaders from around the world. The weekly Leadership Speaker Series has already connected CBS community members with CEOs, founders, and distinguished business leaders—many of whom are themselves CBS alumni—and has a roster of events ahead that includes global heads of big-name companies.
Each hourlong session in the series is held on a Monday evening via Zoom and opens with a talk by a current MBA student, followed by welcome remarks by Dean Costis Maglaras. All sessions feature a prominent business leader in conversation with a member of the Business School’s faculty, and end with a live Q&A allowing all attendees to interact and participate.
The series launched last summer with Siggi Hilmarsson ’04, founder of Siggi’s Dairy, and has continued weekly with talks by businesspeople such as Debbie Perelman ’00, president and CEO of Revlon; Robert Smith ’94, founder, chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners; and Ethan Brown ’08, president and CEO of Beyond Meat.
Coming this April, Yuzaburo Mogi ’61 (above), the honorary CEO and chairman of Kikkoman Corporation, will speak in a session moderated by Professor David Weinstein, the director of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business. All CBS students, alumni, faculty, and staff are invited to attend.