The College Life Series From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Studying Business at a Technological University – An Insider’s Perspective from the Dean of the Lally School of Management
April 4, 2014
Quiet and park-like, yet full of all the conveniences of a self-contained city, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located in the City of Troy is a 260-acre campus, with a blend of modern style and classic charm. In the midst of the campus, the Lally School of Management is the business school at Rensselaer. Founded 50 years ago, the Lally School is focused on developing aspiring business leaders who have a passion for innovation, coupled with the ability to work across business functions. The Lally School programs are built around themes of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in the global economy.
Dr. Thomas Begley, who serves as dean of the Lally School, offers his insight and answers questions on some ways that the Lally School is working to create sophisticated global business leaders.
Q: When did management education begin at Rensselaer?
A: The business school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, today proudly known as the Lally School of Management, started more than 50 years ago.
At the time, the department injected managerial concerns into the life of the Engineering School, and was later asked to remove the “Engineering” from its title and expand on the “Management.” The new designation required its members to reorient themselves more toward the world of business, even if they originally taught only engineering students.
In 1933, business and management education was further expanded and operated in parallel with the development of an industrial engineering program. The two curricula later combined and resulted in the establishment of the Department of Management Engineering, which combined both industrial engineering and business education.
By January 1963 a decision was made to create the School of Management. The new School of Management was initiated to prepare students for careers in industry, business and government. The program encompassed studies in accounting, finance, marketing, personnel and industrial relations, and production and statistics.
On October 1, 1980, Kenneth T. Lally (1914-2008), a trustee of Rensselaer, Teledyne Gurley retiree, and his wife Thelma P. Lally (1913-2005), presented a $1 million gift to Rensselaer. In recognition of their generosity Rensselaer formally named the building the “Lally Management Center.”
In 1998, the Lally’s pledged $5 million toward a $7.5 million dollar renovation project for the Pittsburgh Building and $10 million to endow and support programs for the Lally School of Management, “a preeminent business school that creates and disseminates knowledge to leverage advanced management practices, analytical insights, and technology for the benefit of society.”
Q: What is the mission of the Lally School of Management?
A: The Lally School adopts the Rensselaer focus on technology, innovation, and quantitative skills which differentiates us from other business schools. This complementarity also has helped shape our mission, “To bridge management and technology to create sophisticated global business leaders who are prepared to guide their organizations in the conversion of pioneering ideas and analytical insights into innovative products, processes, and businesses.”
Q: As a prospective student, deciding to enroll in the Lally School of Management, how should a student prepare?
A: Doing well in high school is important and solid SAT or ACT scores help. Beyond that, we value signs that a student has participated actively in sports, clubs, or volunteer activities and, even better, that they have been officers. These activities and others are signs that the student has interacted with others to create results. That is practically a definition in itself of life in business.
Prospective students should be ready for an environment that teaches them critical thinking, quantitative, and analytical skills needed to integrate technology across business functions for commercial results. We mix the “hard” skills with the “soft” skills, so students will have the opportunity to strengthen their interpersonal skills and acquire “real-world” experience through hands-on projects and teamwork from day one.
Finally, the Lally School faculty and staff are always ready to help students to leverage the resources at Rensselaer to network, learn, and position oneself in order to capitalize on future business opportunities.
Q: What are some of the highlights of the Lally School experience for undergraduates?
A: Since its early days, the Lally School has been small by business school standards, and intentionally so. That small size offers our students the ability to create a customized, focused approach to learning to suit their career objectives. Students have the opportunity to obtain double degrees; pursue simultaneous B.S. and M.S. degrees; and pursue minors in schools and departments across campus. They will take classes alongside students from engineering, information technology, science, architecture, humanities and social sciences. If they are interested in entrepreneurship, our endowed Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship provides advice, education, resources and encouragement from experienced entrepreneurs.
We say here that no two students graduate from the Lally School having pursued the same path. There are so many fascinating areas in our school and across campus, and we do not place restrictions on what students can study.
Our small size also offers students individualized attention in small classes where their professors will know them by name. Lally School faculty are highly respected international scholars and educators. We deliver more undergraduate concentrations than much larger schools. Our latest two, business analytics and supply chain management, respond to burgeoning opportunities in companies.
Rensselaer also has a commitment to groundbreaking research and provides undergraduates with the opportunity to work with faculty as they pursue leading edge inquiry and investigation, from collecting and analyzing data to presenting at major conferences and publishing papers.
Many Lally students obtain co-ops and internships that provide them with great work experience and offer networking, skill-building, and connections to future employment. They have had co-ops/internships at companies such as LinkedIn, JP Morgan, Cisco Systems, Hasbro, United Technologies, Boeing, Intel, Target, eBay, Deloitte, and Bank of America.
In addition, the Lally School offers a variety of different study abroad opportunities in universities in countries like Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Q: What are some of the academic, professional, or future career opportunities that Lally School students can look forward to?
A: The Lally School offers several different levels of academic study including: a bachelor’s in business and management, an MBA, master’s degrees in business analytics; quantitative finance and risk analytics; management; supply chain management; and technology commercialization and entrepreneurship; and a Ph.D. Undergraduates can stay five years and graduate with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
Companies value the education our students receive. Recent employers of Lally School graduates include Bank of America, Bloomberg, Cisco Systems, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Facebook, FactSet Research, General Electric, Intel, LexisNexis, JP Morgan Chase, Momentive Performance Materials, NYSE Euronext, Oracle, Procter & Gamble, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and The Hartford.
Q: Can you share some examples of successful graduating and recently graduated Lally School students?
Carly Hoorwitz ’13, earned a bachelor’s/master’s co-terminal degree in business and management with a minor in psychology, and a graduate degree in management with concentrations in management information systems and operations management. She serves as an enterprise risk services consultant for Deloitte.
Mykola Smith ’13 earned a bachelor’s in business and management with a minor in information technology web science. He is an application developer for JP Morgan.
Madison Marzario ’14 is earning a bachelor’s in business and management with a concentration in finance and a minor in communications. She has accepted a position as an information technology risk advisor with Ernst and Young.
Ian Colwell ’14 is earning a bachelor’s/master’s co-terminal degree in business and management with a minor in psychology and a graduate degree in technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. He has accepted a position with AT&T in the emerging technologies development program.
Overall, Rensselaer alumni/ae form a network that has global reach and influence in business. Our alumni/ae actively engage in campus activities and academic centers, closely mentor and coach students, and consistently help place students with excellent companies. Lally School alumni/ae are our biggest supporters, actively contributing to the success of the school and our students.
Q: What do you enjoy most about serving as dean of the Lally School of Management?
A: Where do I begin? It is great to be a part of a world-class, technological research university. Faculty here do research that boggles my mind. Our students are very bright and highly motivated. Our staff combine professionalism with genuine care for students.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is so important to our country, and the world, and it gives me a real sense of accomplishment to serve in the oldest engineering school in the U.S. It also gives me equal satisfaction to see the powerful combination that the study of engineering or science along with business offers to our graduates. Companies tell us frequently that they can hire qualified technical staff and they can hire qualified business staff, but they are really impressed with our efforts to deliver students who have training in both. Finally, it is very gratifying to hear from alumni/ae who testify to the excellent education they received at Rensselaer and how much it has contributed to their successes.
Q: What advice would you offer to prospective and current students that are pursuing management education?
A: Take advantage of all the opportunities that exist across the campus to really broaden your knowledge base and develop your skills. Get involved in the social life of the campus as well, and check out the more than 200 clubs that function here. Talk to professors who are teaching in areas that are of great interest to you and see if you can get involved in their research. If you study something you enjoy, all the hard work you put into it will be very fulfilling. Most of all, have some fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.
For more information about the Lally School of Management, visit: http://lallyschool.rpi.edu/
To learn more about the history of the Lally School of Management, read the RPI History Revealed, Institute Archives blog: http://archives.rpi.edu/blog/2013/10/31/50-years-of-management-at-rensselaer/
About Thomas Begley
Dr. Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management, joined Rensselaer in July 2011. Prior to Rensselaer, he served as dean of the Business School at University College Dublin (UCD). Begley has served as dean of the UCD Business School for more than five years, having joined the school as chair of organizational behavior in 2004. When he was appointed dean of the Business School in 2005, his mandate was to increase research productivity of the faculty in the business school and to develop an executive education program. He built partnerships with companies, raised external funding, and strengthened the international focus of the school.
Begley holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees, both in social psychology, from Cornell University, and a B.A. degree from Seton Hall University. He most recently held the Governor Hugh L. Carey Chair in Organizational Behavior at UCD. His primary teaching and consulting interests are in the areas of organizational change, cross-cultural management, and team development. His consulting clients have included Fortune 500 companies, governments, and nonprofit organizations in several countries.
Begley has held visiting appointments at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the Prasetiya Mulya Graduate School of Management in Jakarta, Indonesia, Reims Management School in France, and Boston University. He has published numerous articles on organizational change, cross-cultural management, and global issues in human resource management in academic and practitioner-oriented sources. One of his articles was reprinted in The History of Management Thought. He served as research director for “The International Entrepreneurship Project,” a 20-country investigation of factors contributing to entrepreneurial activity.