Today, we are getting to know Ashley Baker, associate dean of custom and open enrollment programs:
Tell us a bit about your role as associate dean.
My primary role is to lead program development for our executive custom programs, which involves many people, starting of course with clients but also our program management team, faculty and university staff, outside speakers, and others. No two days are quite the same for me. I sometimes compare our role to a choreographer – pulling together an entire production and working with every dimension of it to ensure it’s successful. My job is not what most people imagine when they think of jobs in higher education. The work is very entrepreneurial in that you have to be willing to work with and through ambiguity and create things where they don’t exist.
You have a consulting background and have worked at Georgetown University for more than eight years. How would you describe what we do in executive education?
Georgetown University was founded to educate the leaders of a new nation, and more than 230 years later, we still see educating leaders as our core mission. Executive education – working with practitioners of management and leadership – is central to that mission, not a distraction from it. I also think there’s a strong social dimension to what we do. Think of the time we spend at work (and commuting). If we can make that time more pleasant and productive for people through improving the way organizations are led, we’re doing something really important. A friend recently said that most of the significant failures we see in organizations are failures of leadership. I agree with that.
In terms of what makes us different, I would say that what we teach people about leading and managing organizations is based in the best of research. Our programs are not just based on one person’s experience.
What books are you currently reading?
I just finished “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and Ron Chernow’s biography of George Washington.