A word with Professor Marianne Lewis
As part of International Women’s Day 2017, we profile some of the senior women working at City, University of London.
Today, we interview Professor Marianne Lewis, Dean of Cass Business School.
In November 2015, Professor Marianne Lewis began her tenure as Dean of Cass Business School. Marianne was Professor of Management and Associate Dean at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati and has over 20 years’ experience in international business research and education.
What attracted you to Cass?
I had a wonderful mini-conference around my research at Cass when I was in London on a Fulbright Scholarship. It was an incredible day - the energy, the vibrancy of it and I thought ‘something special is going on at Cass’. I could feel it. It was serendipity that a couple of weeks later I was approached to see if I would think about applying for the role of Dean - it was an easy yes because clearly both the people and place have great momentum.
You’re active in research, where does this fit in?
I did wonder how I was going to manage it but I have made friends with a few Deans who manage to juggle it.
Because I have just completed the Fulbright and was on sabbatical before joining Cass, I had actually ramped up the research so I have two books in process and several articles due to be published by the Harvard Business Review. In my perfect world, a leader practises what he or she preaches, which is research, education, enterprise and outreach.
It’s just at a slightly different level as Dean so I’ve got to keep doing it and it allows me to have good discussions with the faculty on the research side that I might not have if I stopped. Just like I’m going to keep teaching, because I have to keep having conversations with the students – I don’t want to lose touch with them.
I’m very excited that I have been able to get back in to the classroom to teach a module on the MSc course in Leadership and Change, which is my area of research.
In my perfect world, a leader practises what he or she preaches, which is research, education, enterprise and outreach.
What would you say have been the highlights of your career?
On the education side, I’ve built some programmes and enabled some change in others that I’m very proud of and with a great team around me. They made huge differences in the lives of the people and the partners we were working with and there were big jumps in their rankings because we got everything working well together, from enrolment and retention to employability and student satisfaction.
On the research side, I’ve won awards and had big publications which I appreciate but what I find most fulfilling is the community building that happens because of those recognitions. It’s great to see your name in print but what is really fulfilling is the conversations that happen because someone contacts you to say they have read your work.
Or, if it is in relation to the research I do on organisational paradoxes, I will often get messages from people saying they have observed them too. From these interactions, I’ve developed a really effective global network of people. Being part of building that community around organisational paradoxes is something I’m particularly proud of.
As I reached out to executives, the response was remarkable. Women’s initiatives across major firms opened their arms.
How do you deal with male dominated environments?
Thanks to wonderful mentors, most of them male, pushing, empowering and cheering me on, I have rarely felt limited by my gender. A few years ago at Cincinnati, however, I realised that our male-female student ratio was becoming shockingly lopsided. It was a wake-up call.
Through focus groups it became clear that many young women had not had such support. As a rapid response, my dean at Cincinnati, David Szymanski, helped me launch the Lindner Women in Business network.
As I reached out to Cincinnati executives, the response was remarkable. Women’s initiatives across major firms opened their arms, welcoming students to join their events.