Ten Questions

August 2, 2011 12:34 pm

Ten Questions - Karyl Leggio

karyl leggio

Karyl Leggio: "You learn a lot about people in a fast food restaurant"

Karyl Leggio is the first female dean of Loyola University Maryland, Sellinger School of Business and Management. She joined the school in 2008 from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where she served as associate dean for academic programmes and executive director for the EMBA programme.

Prof Leggio has an MBA from East Tennessee State University and a PhD from the University of Kansas, specialising in finance.

In her spare time, she enjoys golf, skiing, knitting and jogging - to counteract the ever-present jar of sweets on her desk.

1. When did you know you wanted to be dean of a business school?

When I was an untenured assistant professor of finance at the University of Missouri Kansas City. In my first weeks, the new dean came to visit me and asked what I would like to do in the future. I jokingly told him I wanted his job. I don’t know that I aspired to be a dean at that point, but he was an incredibly good mentor and gave me plenty of opportunity to develop as an administrator and leader.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like being able to work with faculty, engage students, interact with the business community and meet alumni. My job has a healthy mix of day-to-day operational activities and long-term planning responsibilities. I also like the fact that my days are not predictable. I know when I walk into my office in the morning what I plan to do; however, when I walk out in the evening, my day has rarely gone exactly as planned.

3. What is the best piece of advice a teacher gave you?

When I was an undergraduate a faculty member advised me to consider a PhD. Had she not planted that seed, I don’t think I would have ever considered academia v a corporate job.

4. What academic achievement are you most proud of?

The change from a stay-at-home mother to a PhD student was a challenge I successfully negotiated. I took the GMAT and then interviewed for and received a prestigious fellowship at the University of Kansas: the Self Fellowship. That fellowship was life changing. It allowed me to do research that was of interest to me, since I was funded and did not need to work as a faculty member’s research assistant. The fellowship also contained a leadership component, which encouraged me to think beyond life as a professor.

5. What is your biggest lesson learnt?

Be open and flexible. I am a firm believer in shared governance. I cannot even begin to presume I have all of the answers. I am very willing to share my opinions, but I’m also very willing to hear and debate alternative paths. Running a business school is running a business in a highly competitive marketplace.

6. What is the worst job you have ever had?

I haven’t had a “worst job”. I’ve enjoyed every position I held and learned from it. That includes the summer when I was going to school full-time and worked night shifts at McDonalds. You learn a lot about people in a fast food restaurant.

7. What advice would you give to women in business?

You can have it all, but life is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t think you have to have it all, do it all and be all, all at once. I have had many women graduate students apologise to me because they are planning to derail their careers and stay at home with their children for a few years. That apology is nonsense; women have many choices, but I think we are programmed to feel guilty if we make a detour from the standard career path.

8. What is your favourite business book?

Peter Bernstein’s Capital Ideas: Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street. I read this book for the first time many years ago and have returned to it as a reminder of the origins of modern finance. It is the story of the development of the field of finance, but it is also the story of being open to possibilities since none of the so-called founding fathers of finance set out to define the field.

9. What is your life philosophy?

I do think of myself as an entrepreneur and I look for ways to bring concepts from different areas together to lead change. I like creating new things and nurturing growth. Where better to do this than in a business school where we are preparing the next generation to lead?

10. What are your future plans?

I’ll be a grandmother for the first time any day now; I plan to spend some time rocking my grandchild. I also plan to continue helping Loyola’s Sellinger School to grow and gain in reputation and stature and I plan to enjoy my life.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

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