March 9, 2020 | By Vallabh Sambamurthy | Back to blog
Dean Samba speaks about strategic planning to a room full of faculty and staff
Roadmap 2025, WSB’s new strategic plan, was developed through an inclusive, participatory, and transparent process. Photo by Paul L. Newby II

As an incoming dean, initiating a strategic planning process and developing a clear roadmap were among my top priorities. Today, business schools are buffeted by the gale-force winds of global competition, the changing landscape of programmatic offerings and student learning, and new opportunities to reframe their strategic priorities.

Based on my previous experiences with leading strategic planning efforts, I had a deep appreciation for the importance of earning buy-in from our diverse stakeholders—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others. I was committed to a process that would position the school to take maximum advantage of strategic opportunities, while also engaging people authentically and reflecting our collective aspirations. The resulting process was inclusive and transparent.

Over the course of five months, we engaged nearly 400 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and external stakeholders in extensive conversations. Through numerous listening sessions and collaborative meetings, we empowered the participants to share perspectives, ask questions, and offer feedback. We deliberately designed the process to be agile to avoid dampening creativity or reducing our openness to alternative viewpoints. At each step, we communicated broadly to ensure transparency and buy-in. I truly believe that this agile and democratic approach was unique, and I am proud of how we fostered widespread engagement throughout the process.

The new strategic plan, dubbed Roadmap 2025, will position WSB to break new ground in business education and respond to rapidly changing forces in the digital economy.

We have set the foundation for our future with a reframed mission, vision, and set of values. These carefully constructed core principles will undergird our pursuit of high-priority initiatives identified in Roadmap 2025. We’re also working in tandem with campus to align with UW–Madison’s strategic framework for 2020-2025.

Our ultimate objective is to create a global platform for Business Badger lifelong learning. As new technologies accelerate the pace of change and increase demand for new skills in the workforce, our portfolio of learning opportunities must be more accessible and customizable. Our platform will expand the scope of learning beyond traditional undergraduate and graduate programs to better serve Business Badgers throughout the evolving arc of their careers. This includes pre-college youth exploring future career pathways as well as alumni looking to embark on a new pathway or reskill at specific moments in their careers.

Many private and public institutions have aspired to build lifelong learning hubs, but leadership in this evolving domain is still ripe for the taking and will help set us apart as a world-class business school.

Strategic Priorities

We will realize our vision to create a platform for lifelong learning by advancing three priorities:

1. Deliver a top 10 BBA – An immersive and applied undergraduate program will be the foundation of our lifelong learning platform and a critical springboard for future business leaders. We are planning investments to modernize our curriculum, enrich the student experience, and strengthen career outcomes—resulting in a reputational leap as a top-10 business school.

2. Create a market-driven, on-demand graduate portfolio – Building upon the experiential learning strength of our MBA degrees, a more agile and market-responsive portfolio will meet the professional learning needs of our community. In order to create flexibility, accessibility, and personalization at different life stages, we are developing specialized masters programs in emerging disciplines, innovating within our MBA programs, and building capacity to deliver stackable, on-demand learning.

3. Maximize research impact – As an influential partner to industry, we will expand and deepen collaborations on complex business challenges to address the needs of the future workforce. To achieve this, we must grow the size, reputation, and market orientation of our faculty with stronger diversity, expertise around emerging trends, and cross-disciplinary capabilities.

An illustration depicting WSB's goal of becoming a global platform for Business Badger Lifelong Learning

Pathways to Success

To advance these priorities, a set of core initiatives will be critical to success. These include:

  • A modern curriculum that enhances our current portfolio with experiential learning and career development
  • Increased focus on diversity and inclusion across students, faculty, and staff to develop our people and culture
  • A robust online platform that will enhance our existing programs and assist the launch of new offerings
  • Strong campus, corporate, and global partnerships that expand our impact and reach.

As we move into implementation of Roadmap 2025, we are forming cross-functional, action-oriented teams who will set to work with identifiable tasks and key performance indicators to advance and measure our progress.

We have built tremendous momentum into Roadmap 2025. When we look back five years from now, I am confident that we’ll be celebrating many achievements that were set in motion by our inclusive planning process, ambitious new priorities, and focused implementation plans. I am inspired by the promise and potential of this blueprint, and I hope that the broad Business Badger community will be too.