In this episode, host Dr. Monica Powell and guest Lisa Shatz, an assistant dean at the Naveen Jindal School of Management and director of its MBA programs, chat about their shared history as colleagues and friends. Shatz will take over as host of the Yet Another MBA G.O.A.T. Podcast beginning with Episode 14.
[Jimmie] This is yet another MBA G.O.A.T. a podcast featuring conversations with a greatest of all time MBA alumni from the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas. We’re here to celebrate the outcomes of graduate management education and to identify remarkable examples of how the MBA program here at the Jindal School has transformed the lives of our alumni. Now, here’s Dr. Monica Powell senior associate dean and graduate dean at the Jindal School. Take it away, Monica.
[Monica] Well hello there. I am so excited to have this podcast today with my favorite MBA person of all time. So she may not be yet another UT Dallas MBA, but she was one of my former MBAs in a prior academic life, and she is currently the Assistant Dean for MBA programs here at the Jindal School. So I’d like to welcome to the podcast Lisa Shatz.
[Lisa] Thank you, Monica. Good to be here with you.
[Monica] Yeah, you know, we’ve spent many, a year together Lisa, I think that our relationship goes back. I don’t know 1994, 1995 …
[Lisa] I think I actually knew who we knew who we were, each other, we’re in the early 90s but I think it was about 94 when I was actually in the business school and I remember my first impression of Monica Powell, and we’re going way back so I’m in my mid-20s you’re in your mid-30s and I’m sure I had met you, but I didn’t really piece that part together, but I remember distinctly thinking, who is this Monica Powell that keeps booking all the rooms for these MBA students, because every time I needed a function room or an auditorium, it was booked for the MBA students and I’ve thought about that over the years, as I’ve booked all these rooms for the MBA students and thought, there’s probably people looking going Why is Lisa Shatz booking so many rooms, but the answer is MBA students have a lot of events. But, but I remember that distinctly.
[Monica] That is hysterical I wouldn’t have even believed that that was one of your early memories, but that was a long time ago, I mean, I was your MBA Director when you were an MBA student, I was your husband’s MBA Director, when he was a full-time MBA student, and now you are the school’s Assistant Dean for MBA programs, and what is even more exciting is that you are the new future host of yet another UT Dallas MBA G.O.A.T.
[Lisa] And I’m excited about it because I kept listening to your G.O.A.T.s but you do a great job on I hate to ever have to follow you on anything like that, but you are getting to have so much fun with my students and I, I missed the opportunity to catch up with them so I’m excited about being able to basically catch up with people that I see periodically I talk to periodically but to have, you know, a solid hour where we’re just chatting about old times, and about their careers and what they’re doing is really fun for me.
[Monica] You know I think you are going to bring such knowledge of the students to the podcast that I can’t bring to the occasion I’ve enjoyed chatting with the students that I have over the last year — it has been so much fun and those students were students that I knew really well. So now you get to take over with students that you know really well, that you’ve watched take this wonderful MBA journey here at the Naveen Jindal School of Management, You know, Lisa, we tell MBA students all the time how to advance their careers and how to change the trajectory of their lives and how networking is going to really make the difference and knowing people is going to change your life. And I can’t help but think about 2008, I came to UT Dallas in 2007, and in 2008, I was in dire need of an MBA Director. And I was like, where am I going to find an MBA Director somebody that really understands MBAs somebody that understands business schools, somebody that has real-world work experience that MBAs want to have had somebody who gets it from the inside out. And I remember sending an email out to one of our alums here at UT Dallas and said, I need an MBA Director I need you guys to help me. And this alum was so grateful. He was like, Oh sure, I’ll reach out to a few people. And so he sent out an email, and I think you were the recipient of one of his emails. And can you tell the other side of that story?
[Lisa] So the other side of that story was — I was just off the real estate bust I was in real estate wanted to get into kind of my next leg of a career and started looking, and it’s 2008 so everybody’s kind of like how can you be looking right now there are no jobs, and I literally my entire job search was one phone call, it was a phone call to the alum, that you’re referring to, where I said, you know, so I was in consulting with him and I said, I don’t want to go back to consulting but you know I know you have real estate clients and I would like to get back to something I’ve done before and I was a real estate consultant. So let me know if you have any clients who are looking. Never in a million years had it occurred to me that he would send me in this direction but he had just gotten your email, and I’m so glad and grateful that I had kept in touch with all my Deloitte friends. And so it wasn’t it wasn’t an unusual thing that I was reaching out. But the timing, it could not have been more perfect so all these people were asking me how you found something like there’s nobody hiring, and I was like oh I just made one phone call.
[Monica] That is such a great story because you know we tell people all the time that you know maintain relationships because you never know when that relationship is going to lead to another great opportunity. And it was so funny because when that alum called me and said, you know, I was talking to Lisa Shatz, and she knows you. And then all of a sudden you applied for this job and went through the interview process and I remember what Dean Pirkul said at that time. Well, Dr. Powell I think you nailed it. We got ourselves an MBA Director and it was so much fun because you know we had worked together so many years before, and to be able to come back together and work on something that was close to our hearts and our experience which is really cool and so the last 12 years has just been a ton of remarkable fun. You know when I think about all that the MBA program has accomplished in the last 12 years, you would have to preface every sentence with Lisa Shatz did. If you think back Lisa in 2008, our full-time MBA program was not in U.S.News’ top 50 programs. In fact, I think we were probably a 53, maybe 54 at that time. And I remember you coming in and you put on your consultant hat, and I put on my consultant hat and we were like, we’re gonna figure out how to, you know, get this program up there in the rankings. And when you look at the rankings today, I think the last ranking and US News, put us in the top 15 among public US, schools, but we’re number 33 in the nation. With regard to MBA programs and your expertise and your leadership has been a big huge part of making that happen. What do you think about just the evolution of what the program has accomplished and even though I know you’re a humble and modest individual, you should be given a lot of credit for making all of that happen so what do you think about that? I mean, did you have any expectation that we’re going to come in and do all of that and do it in such a short period of time?
[Lisa] You know, I think it took me a while to figure out where we were, what the program was about, where we stood in the rankings what rankings even you know how that all worked, but two things strike me one is, it wasn’t very long before I got into the program and realized, well we have an amazing program that nobody knows about. And it particularly in the case of my case where I was in the consulting world we were dealing with MBAs all the time we were you know I was aware of the MBA programs, and I realized we have really taught faculty. We have faculty from Stanford from MIT, and just all these things that no one knew about. And so I knew that was low-hanging fruit. The second thing is just putting on my consulting hat you know you talked about that. The first thing you do as a consultant is you put together the best team, and I was really lucky that after the first year where I was really just getting my head around all the things to do. The first year I would, I would not want to live that year again, but then putting together a team hiring Joanna Fowler who’s, you know, still with us 11 years later, and a team of folks to do what we were setting out to do was really the key, but at the end of the day it came down to the students. I mean we had great students who turned into great alumni, and we see them on the G.O.A.T. podcast, but we also see them every day in my email. I just got an email from an alum today, saying, I’m hiring somebody on my team, want to hire somebody from UT Dallas and they want to come back because they had a great experience but they also want to come back because they know that we give students the skills to make them look good.
[Monica] So Lisa in our … let’s see. Oh my gosh, Lisa over 20 years of knowing each other. What strikes you as just the best memories of the last 20 years? I know I certainly have some and, and many of those are associated with international travel with students. And I’m sure some of yours are as well. But I will say that when the MBA program celebrated my 50th birthday, and we won’t say how long ago that was even though it was long time ago, that was really one of my favorite memories because I know that you orchestrated that because you know my love for banana splits. But to walk into an, an MBA room with banana splits out the wazoo was just an incredible moment. But I think if I remember correctly, I remember you later telling me that it was awfully hard to get me there.
[Lisa] Yeah, I mean, part of the challenge was my being so excited about getting your favorite thing and not thinking about the fact that that thing melts! And so, when I called you I was like I really need you to come down so then I had to call back and say, no like this is urgent, like this is dangerous like, I need you. And so, you came flying down, and we’re all waiting. And I can’t remember what happened that kept holding you up but it was that second call where I said I really need you. And so, probably 60 seconds later, we heard your shoes coming because Monica wears heels all the time and on the floors, you can always hear it because it is fast. It is fast to use click click click click until we all heard you coming, and there we sat with a cart that had three just giant I don’t even know how many gallons, each one was of three different types of ice cream and three different types of toppings, and cherries and whipped cream for a classroom of 50 people.
[Monica] Yeah, that was a glorious, glorious hour of just deliciousness that I will never forget. Lisa, what do you think is the most formidable international travel memory?
[Lisa] You know, God I got, I don’t I don’t remember how many trips we’ve done together I know I did, I think seven of them I think, in total, you’ve probably done 20 of them, we have covered the globe. But to be honest, my probably favorite memory is you and I at the beach in Normandy which didn’t even have to do with the trip itself, right you and I went early we spent a day in Paris, and we went out to the beach at Normandy, and that was kind of our chance to be students, because we tend to be the administrators and the doers and the teachers, but we never get to be the student and that was kind of a, like a learning class setting right you go out on the beach and they talk you through the history and the pictures and you ask all these questions, and that was great because that was like, our learning opportunity to learn something new and that was new for me there was a lot of stuff there I didn’t know.
[Monica] That was a great trip I don’t know if you remember, but we were going to take the train to Normandy. And we went to the train station and we didn’t have the proper money. Do you remember — to get on the train?
[Lisa] The guy with the little change purse … yup.
[Monica] So we stopped this very elegant French man to ask him to search out his coin his coin purse to help these two Americans trying to go on the train to Normandy, and I’m sure that he thought he was being robbed. But he was very gracious and he gave us. He exchanged the money for us and we got on the train and we took that really, really remarkable trip to Normandy. But Lisa do you have other I mean you’ve had some great trips with students, over the years, and you’ve had some challenging trips with students as well. Can you share one of those great international trips with the audience?
[Lisa] You know every, every trip was so different. They were all similar in the sense that the students just really got to shed their outer layer, they got to really get to know each other and really have this kind of school experience but it was fun, and a lot of the students on every trip there were at least a handful of students who had never been anywhere, either outside of Texas or outside of the US and then there were students who had been all around the world so it was kind of this mix. But I, I’d have to say that my favorite experience that was part of the academic journey was the year that we went, it was the class of 2011, and we went to Spain. And we had lined up an opportunity for students to compete on a project that La Caixa, which is was the biggest savings and loan in Spain was willing to let our students do, and present to them to the executives. The great thing about that, was it was such an experience for the students that were so excited about that opportunity, and the team that ended up winning just knocked it out of the park so of course it was great for me to have our students impressing this large organization this large financial organization. But to this day when I talk to those students they still talk about that experience and they used it on in interviews they used it on resumes, how many MBA students here in the US get to say that they worked on a project for an international company in that country and presented and won that case competition.
[Monica] It’s interesting you say that Lisa because in the interview that we had with one of the podcasters, they told the story and I don’t remember which one of them that was I’m guessing that was Andy Cyders – Yeah, probably was Andy Cyders that was a great story.
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[Monica] Lisa, the MBA program here at the Jindal school one thing that really distinguishes us from other MBA programs in the market is that we do small really, really well. And because we are small, we’re able to be incredibly innovative and just do things with greater speed than other larger programs, aren’t able to do. How do you think the program has changed in the, in the time that you’ve been here?
[Lisa] It’s interesting that you talk about how we’re small and innovative, I know that you always say I’m humble and and I always throw things back to you but that’s actually your that comes from you, that is your style where, where sometimes an issue doesn’t really need a really complicated or technical solution, and there’s so many times that something has come up where you’re like, well, we just need 20 alums and he need to call this many people or something that is so grassroots, and I think that’s become the culture where when we decide that we want to do something we don’t really think well how are we going to track that or what system are we going to use, we’re just like, how are we going to do that like we can do that. There have been many initiatives that have come up that we weren’t really old school on. But it worked, and whether that’s alumni connecting one on one with our students, or a way to get employers in the door, your idea of the showcase which we’ve been doing now for about four or five years where employers come in and walk in students compete against each other as part of Lead Camp. Those are the kind of things that I think have made us stand apart. But again, if you have 500 students in a program, you might have the same 20 students who were part of something like that showcase, but for us, we can have all of our students, be a part of that. Just because of our size.
[Monica] Yeah, I remember you telling me once or it might have been Joanna, telling me once that I wasn’t allowed to go to any more conferences because I always got some bright idea
which may be here we go again, we’re gonna try something real really different, you know, at least when I think about the students and the culture of the MBA program and I think that culture can be attributed to the people that lead the MBA programs office, you know, the connectivity, the real caring for each other, the support that you see that classmates give when a new baby is born, or when a parent passes away. How do you think that has been sustained from class to class, because it’s very unusual for every class to have that personality. So what is it that is unique about this program that just embeds that in our students in a way that you know every MBA program says, you’re going to make friends for a lifetime in the MBA program, but then really they don’t make friends for a lifetime in the MBA program, but in this MBA program, it is shocking to me how close students remain to each other, and I know that that must be born of the experience so what is it about the experience that makes that happen every year?
[Lisa] I think it’s self-selection. I think the students, hear all about all the MBA programs so they talk to people at each program and they hear oh we have you know this many employers we have these kind of events we have this kind of culture. And I think they’re choosing us because they hear that so I think the students that are more inclined to want to have those friendships and that culture and those relationships and to sustain those, are the ones that when they hear us saying that and they know that’s one of our strongest attributes, then they’re more likely to choose us. It may be that there are students out there that haven’t chosen us because they heard that and they thought, that’s not really important to me. And so by, by definition, they’re going to choose something else. So I think we’re getting the right students in and then of course the second year is in the first years, the first year is look to the second year is to okay what are we doing you know give us some guidance and when all that is is shown to them, and they see how people interact with their classmates with the administration. I think they just kind of carry that on but you know we have such such a sweet group of students just every year after year it’s amazing — you know you know in 2019 not to go into detail, I had a tough year, and it was the people who work here and the students who got me through that I was on leave for a long time taking care of a sick family member, and there wasn’t a day that went by, that a student or staff member or faculty were texting me and just saying we’re thinking of you, we’re here if you need anything. And that was incredible and I see it happen when our students struggle, I see it happen when a student’s not doing well in a class where their classmates are saying you know what you’re going to come study with me or a student who’s really strong in a class and doesn’t have to spend any time on that class makes the time to do a review session for the students who are struggling. So it’s everybody kind of lifting everybody up to their highest level, and we’ve always talked about the program being that and that’s kind of what it’s become. And so, yeah, you can do great in this program but if the guy sitting next to you doesn’t do great too, then that’s not a full success.
[Monica] Yeah, I love that about our program and I think that that is incredible icing on an MBA cake that students can’t get anywhere else and you know I think about all the things that I’ve dreamed up in the time that you’ve been here and we’ve had the great pleasure of working together, and how responsive you’ve been to some really wild ideas and innovations. But when we dreamed up yet another UT Dallas MBA G.O.A.T. podcast. And I shared that idea with you, you were really excited about what that would potentially deliver for us. And, you know, the podcasts can be seen on or heard I should say, on our MBA website. And so I imagine that you have prospective students who’ve run across the G.O.A.T. recordings and have come looking to talk to one of those podcast guests, because of what they said. And that’s the that’s the future of the podcast, and it is so exciting to be able to turn it over to you to take forward for many, many more years of many more greatest of all time MBAs because they are remarkable you know I’ve been in this business nearly 35 years, I have visited, I don’t know, probably, 50, 60, 70 MBA programs across America. And I know I’m biased, and I know that I may not be as objective. But when you look at what we have embedded in our MBA program in terms of the desire to learn the desire to change a life the desire to take advantage of opportunity, the willingness to give of themselves to others. You just can’t beat it so I have no doubt Lisa, as you move the G.O.A.T. forward, that there is going to be an endless supply of greatest of all time MBAs. So what are you looking most forward ?
[Lisa] To reconnecting, maybe hearing some stories I haven’t heard before. I’m part of this so I hear things that are going on and and know all, I think what’s going on but there are times that I miss things and then I talked to an alum two years later and they’re like, hey, do you remember that situation that happened and I was like, I never heard I don’t know where I was. So I am hoping to be surprised a little bit as well. But I think in our line of work, we have to work hard, I mean, you know, it’s funny that there’s some perception out there that people in higher ed you know have summers off and all this kind of stuff which isn’t true. I think I’ve worked more hours in this field than I ever did in consulting I worked a lot of hours in consulting, but the reward that we get is the students coming back and telling us you know I got an email yesterday that a student that we’ve been working with really hard he’s been so worried about getting that great job just landed, an amazing offer amazing at at Amazon, and you know, that was my Sunday night and it was like, I love ending the day like that,
[Monica] know, that’s funny that you say that Lisa I remember you had been here maybe, oh I don’t know a year and a half, we were having a meeting in my office. And I don’t know if I got a phone call or you got a phone call, but we learned about a student that landed this great job. And we started hooting and hollering and making all of this noise that Dean Pirkul assistant came down to my office and said, Dean Pirkul wants to know what all this noise is about. And you know we said, man, the student just landed this awesome job and we are so excited – she left and then a few minutes later she came back and she said, the Dean says you can continue. And it was just such a great moment that we can celebrate the victories, we can celebrate all of the things that our students have helped make possible. I reflect back on all the students that I’ve talked to in the podcast, and I think about you know they’re all so different. I think we’ve talked to 12 of them in the last year, and I and I think back to all of those conversations and what they have said about the impact this program has had on their life. And it is amazing to me that these incredibly successful people who’ve landed these great jobs, who have these amazing stories to tell, will make time in their busy life to talk to me. And to tell the world what an impact this MBA program had on them. And it didn’t it didn’t matter if I was talking, you know to somebody who was an entrepreneur or somebody who had excelled in health care or somebody who had done great and in audit or in supply chain. Every single one of those stories were stories about people who wanted to pay it forward to students who weren’t even yet here prospects you hadn’t yet considered an MBA program and the stories they tell are just remarkable and unique and amazing and funny and incredibly revealing, and the gratitude that these, these alums have had it just it’s payback for all the long nights and all of the strategy and all the things we tried that failed and I have no doubt that as you take the podcast forward. I cannot wait to listen to the stories that these alums will tell because every single one of them is a new chapter in this really long book, and you’re going to have a lot of fun.
[Lisa] I’ll have a lot of fun some of those stories might have to be edited. We do have some. A few situations where things get a little out of control or too funny. But yeah, I mean, the more our prospective students out there can get to know our students and our alums, they are the best way we have to show what our program can do, there’s there’s nothing I can say that will ever match up to a student talking about where they were before the program, what they gained in the program and what it’s done for them since then.
[Monica] And that’s exactly what yet another UT Dallas MBA G.O.A.T. is all about. Welcome aboard Lisa. Have a great time.
[Lisa] Thank you, Monica.
[Monica] Thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast. I hope that you were inspired by the words you heard from one of our greatest of all time MBA G.O.A.T.s If you were inspired to think about getting an MBA degree, I hope that you’ll be in touch with us, give us a call, drop us an email. Hop on our website. Be in touch with us so that we can help you make a difference in your future. We look forward to hearing from you.
[Jimmie] Thanks for listening to this episode of yet another MBA G.O.A.T. podcast. Join us firstname.lastname@example.org to find episode notes, links, and more. Be sure to subscribe to yet another MBA G.O.A.T. podcast on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcasting app. If you like what you hear, please leave us a five star review that will help spread the word about the podcast and the Jindal schools MBA programs. To learn more about the Jindal schools MBA programs, go to jindal.utdallas.edu/MBA.