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Leading the Charge

By Jacqueline Molik Ghosen

Photo: Douglas Levere

In April, Paul Tesluk was named dean of the School of Management. He was selected from a pool of highly competitive candidates after an international search.

A nationally recognized scholar in leadership, team effectiveness and organizational performance, Tesluk had been interim dean since July 2015. He joined the School of Management in 2011 as the Donald S. Carmichael Professor of Organizational Behavior and served for two years as chair of the Department of Organization and Human Resources.

He led the 2013 creation of the school's Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness and, in 2014, received a UB Exceptional Scholar Sustained Achievement Award.

Prior to joining UB, Tesluk spent 13 years at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, serving as the Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, chair of the Department of Management and Organization, and co-director of the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change.

While earning doctoral and master's degrees from The Pennsylvania State University, Tesluk majored in industrial/organizational psychology and minored in management and organization. He earned a bachelor's degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University.

Q&A: Tesluk talks with Buffalo Business

Q. You are a renowned professor and prolific researcher. Why were you interested in becoming dean?

A. What attracted me to the position of dean is an extension of what drew me to the School of Management as a professor in the first place: Leadership is a key area of focus. We have a tremendous opportunity to build on the successes we've had producing world-class research and through academic programs like LeaderCORE and our engagement with the business community. I want to be able to work with others to build something great.

Q. What are your immediate and long-term plans for the school?

A. This year is about setting up the School of Management to move forward on a strong upward path toward excellence. We are working now on a clear and engaging vision and long-term strategic plan that our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and business and community partners will all take part in developing. This will be our roadmap for the future and, I hope, our inspiration to undertake the hard work required to achieve what we envision the school can become. We plan to hire several faculty, particularly endowed chairs in such areas as entrepreneurship and leadership, to provide the type of scholarship, teaching and programs that define excellence. We also are working to build engagement with our alumni and grow our resources through philanthropy, which will help us continue to grow and innovate. To strengthen our curriculum and provide more support to our students, we are introducing a new data analytics concentration in our MBA program and launching a new interdisciplinary master's program in sustainable transportation and logistics.

Long term, to enhance our student experience, I'd like to see our study-abroad rate increase significantly. We will also work to increase internships and other real-world experiences outside the classroom to provide excellent learning experiences and contribute in meaningful ways to organizations and the community. On a broader level, our faculty research can be used to address and solve the most pressing challenges, not just in business, but also in society, in ways that make meaningful impact. This will build the reputation, stature and brand of our school, solidifying our place as a leading business school known for being innovative, bold, engaged and excellent in everything we do.

Q. What do you see as the school's greatest strengths and challenges?

A. Greatest strengths: Outstanding faculty and professional staff, highly dedicated and successful alumni who have much to offer our students and the school, and ambitious and talented students. We also are part of a large, research-intensive public university with strong professional schools.

Challenges: Given the relentless pace of change in business and the world, one of my challenges is to be sure we are innovating in the best way we can. Our scholarship needs to be rigorous, relevant and accessible. Our teaching and education has to provide our students — and corporate partners who hire them — with the most current and critical knowledge and skills to be successful. We also need to continue to design interdisciplinary degree programs, research and engagement activities that break down traditional academic silos.

Q. What advice would you give to a new business student today?

A. Business education can provide you with knowledge and skills to change the world. I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Be ambitious. Challenge yourself and learn as much as you can while earning your degree.
  2. Take advantage of all the opportunities outside the classroom to learn, grow and be successful, including internships, study-abroad experiences, student clubs and career workshops through the Career Resource Center. You can easily double what you gain from your degree.
  3. Adopt a mindset that you aren't just a student passing through to get your degree. You're a member of the School of Management, and the faculty and professionals here can help you prepare to be successful in your career and life. This mindset will enrich your academic experience and help you develop lifelong relationships that can be continually rewarding.

Up Close and Personal

Age
46

 

Hometown
Buffalo. We were away for 25 years and love being back right in the heart of the resurgence taking place here, including the growth of the medical campus and the great things happening at the harbor front and all across the community.

 

Family
Wife, Megan Hurley, and four children: Mick, Ellie, Bess and Peter, ages 14-7

 

Fitness
I have always been a runner, though I've gotten a lot slower over the years. I find the mental clarity it brings at least as beneficial as the physical exercise. And the latest neuroscience research shows the single best activity you can do for your brain is aerobic exercise.

 

Fun
With four active kids, we spend a lot of time at swim meets, hockey rinks and soccer fields. As a family, we love summer festivals, restaurants, bike riding in Delaware Park and the Outer Harbor, and doing all the great things we have available in Buffalo, especially during the summer.

 

Last concert you went to
My wife and I are huge Rolling Stones fans, so we try to see at least one of their concerts whenever they tour. They've been together more than 50 years, so we are sure every tour is going to be their last! I also recently took my teenage daughter and her friend to One Direction. I've never seen so many screaming girls in my life — a different crowd from the Stones concert, for sure!

 

Favorite quote
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." — Margaret Mead