The newest business school in the world is . . . an art school

In higher education, as in so many areas of public life today, trust is lacking. A recent Pew Research survey found that only half of Americans think higher education has a positive impact on our country, and more than a third think colleges and universities have negative effects. Even before the pandemic, the number of freshmen in the United States had begun to plateau, and COVID has accelerated this trend, with many choosing to forgo formal education and start their own businesses as soon as possible. Many are content with the immediate gratification of rather mundane jobs rather than the delayed gratification and lifetime financial reward of a career that requires degrees.

As a lifelong educator, I have observed firsthand the refusal of administrators and faculty to embrace change. This resistance to innovation, ironically enough, is particularly true in business education. A recent survey of employers by the Association of MBAs found that nearly half of corporate recruiters cite applicants’ “lack of creativity,” as well as resistance to new thinking. Creativity, in this context, means the ability to seek out new information, reframe problems as stories, express solutions seductively, and tolerate risk – abilities that do not always come easily to students. that revolve around business or engineering studies. If you want to generate new products and ideas, you need people who conjure up original concepts as naturally as they breathe.


When an interviewer asked shark tank Kevin O’Leary (aka “Mr. Wonderful”) what you have to study in college to become an entrepreneur, he said that three years ago he might have said engineering. “But I changed my mind,” he said. “Since the pandemic hit, the number one demand I have for my businesses is for people who can take the business concept and tell a story, produce video, do rich photography, create short videos […].” He goes on to say that he now pays his writers, videographers and photographers competitive six-figure salaries because they can solve business problems with highly specialized tools and creative thinking.

President Paula Wallace

I’ve seen this demand for imaginative solutions from business leaders for years in our university’s in-house research studio, where customers ask real-world questions of our students: How can we reach Gen Z customers? ? How to revive this range of products? How do we tell our story to different demographics? How can we attract diverse new recruits? This year alone, SCADpro’s customers include automotive (Ford, Volvo, Lexus, Firestone), airline (Delta, Gulfstream), technology (Google, HP), finance (Fidelity Investments, Capital One), l hotel industry (Marriott, MGM Resorts), and many others: Deloitte, Allstate, CBS, Lowe’s, Chanel, 3M, Staples, Nike, CBS, eBay and even World Wrestling Entertainment.

These customers seek out SCAD because they are passionate about differentiating their products and services to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Call us an “art school” if you want. For these companies, we are a school of invention. This fact about SCAD became so apparent a few years ago that we set up a fund to launch alumni businesses, investing $1.3 million to date in businesses valued at over $123 million. dollars.


Domenico De Sole

All this invention and entrepreneurship led to the next logical step: the launch of our own business school. You won’t find the word “administration” or “management” in its name. These words are too passive for what our graduates do and what the best companies in the world need. We call it the De Sole School of Business Innovation at SCAD, named after Domenico De Sole, the legendary guru who turned Gucci into a luxury powerhouse – and whose story is, in part, told in Ridley Scott’s Gucci House.

We’ve channeled our many ideas from thousands of partnerships with the world’s most admired companies into this new venture, where students combine creative talent with lessons in financial reporting, social analytics, branding, and more.

You won’t find the business leaders of tomorrow in old-fashioned business schools. You’ll find them in places where innovators apply research and data analytics to imaginative thinking to address pressing business challenges in the post-pandemic economy. Global business has changed during the pandemic, but not traditional business schools. Products, services, supply chains and brand strategies require leadership with a creative edge. This is exactly what the De Sole School of Business Innovation at SCAD does.

Paula Wallace is founder and president of the Savannah College of Art and Design

Kayleen C. Rice