Goizueta Business School Dean Erika James and Alum Todd Foreman photographed on campus on August 26, 2016.
The conversation between Todd Foreman 86BBA, chairman of the Goizueta Alumni Board, and Goizueta Dean Erika James covered topics ranging from the school’s mission to why building partnership across Emory is important and how alumni can get involved in strategic planning efforts.

Erika James’ research explores how business leaders approach crisis.

An expert in the subject and author of multiple books and papers, James is versed in recognizing problems as well as opportunities. As dean of a top business school, she is also tasked with helping her institution — and higher education — find solutions to some of the more pressing issues facing the business world. “Goizueta is in the position to not only impact the world through quality research and education, but to model our values in a way that elevates an image of business tarnished by recession, poor leadership, crisis, mistrust, and staid goals,” James says.

James isn’t suggesting impending doom for the business community but she does see more than enough opportunity for business schools like Goizueta to lead the way with business integrity.

“High-quality education … That’s table stakes for a top institution,” James notes. “To be truly distinctive as a business school, we must do two things. First, we must be intentional about identifying mutual benefit between our efforts and the myriad industries we serve. Then, we must leverage our distinctive culture and values to make sure these efforts have meaningful impact.”

Goizueta began the process by identifying several strategic themes with crucial intersections across education and industry. These themes also align with the school’s proven expertise. From there, the school channeled the university’s longstanding mission and its namesake’s lived values.

“Emory University is more than a top-20 research institution, and Roberto C. Goizueta represents more than a name stamped on the side of our building,” James says. “Our history can be the force that fuels our goal of raising the stature of business–and Goizueta Business School.”

This is omnipresent in James’ mind and evidence of how Goizueta will go beyond its current state as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

“I believe business schools should be in service to the business community,” James says. “We are about more than excellent academics for students or a consistent vehicle for career success. We are about adding value to the world through research, problem solving, and lifelong learning.”

Strategic Plan: Year in Review

Strategic Themes


[acc title=”Behavior & Decision Insights“]


Further the creation of knowledge and help businesses make better decisions by utilizing Goizueta’s faculty expertise on the behavior of individuals, organizations, and economies while expanding the interaction between academic research and industry.


  • With 13 top scholars in behavioral research among our faculty, Goizueta is uniquely positioned
    to push human knowledge in this area
  • Our work across research areas—management, marketing, accounting, and finance—
    includes multiple methods (field experiments, surveys, archival work, and modeling)
  • Current coursework includes focus on consumer behavior (all programs) and accounting
  • Executive Education offerings include courses on critical thinking and experimentation
  • The Behavioral Lab at Goizueta is a hub for our research activities


Behavior & Decision Insights seeks to understand how decisions in organizations get made. Should you green-light the merger? Hire the job candidate? Delegate a task? These are the decisions that make up our everyday lives and aggregate to determine an organization’s success or failure. Our scholars use insights from the basic science of psychology and neuroscience to investigate the causes of optimal decisions and actions.


  • Increase community involvement in research through the
  • Behavioral Lab Raise awareness of efforts to grow a pool of research participants
  • Expand corporate involvement in research through partnerships that include benefits for scholarship as well as the companies

RELATED: Goizueta’s behavior lab aids in research


[acc title=”Business Analytics“]


Apply data-driven scholarship to create knowledge and provide thought leadership in analytics, and prepare market-ready graduates to be business data scientists and other leaders capable of speaking the language of data to address tomorrow’s business challenges.


  • The Emory Marketing Analytics Conference attracts mid-to-senior-level professionals from more than 25 companies in Atlanta for discussion, networking, and continued learning
  • Annual events and speakers familiarize students with the world of predictive analytics
  • Coursework, including data capture, structure, and analysis, available across academic areas
  • Broad research across multiple areas of popular interest including data security, pricing, social media, consumer behavior, business-to-business relationships, and customer loyalty
  • Starting in 2017, a master’s program in business analytics


  • Package and distribute faculty research and findings to increase program recognition among media outlets, potential partners, and hiring companies
  • Partner with companies to gather data for research and experiential learning projects
  • Broaden analytics footprint across Emory to include areas of mathematics, computer science, quantitative methods, and political science
  • Continue to execute on the best event opportunities that raise the conversation around data analysis and position the school for increased outreach
  • Introduce new methods of testing and rigor to inform a business world forced to adapt to advancing technology and understand future trends

RELATED: Goizueta launches master of science in business analytics degree


[acc title=”Entrepreneurship“]


Develop and support entrepreneurial aspirations for students at every stage of their careers and at each phase of venture creation. This includes not only supporting those who plan to start a business but also enhancing entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial thinking among all Goizueta students through educational content, intellectual engagement, and infrastructure.


  • Focus on entrepreneurship with 16 electives at the undergraduate and graduate level
  • Maintain relationships with passionate alumni entrepreneurs anxious to partner, mentor, and
    contribute insights
  • Leverage Atlanta’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture by building university and company alliances and
    partnering with entities creating entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Fund and support community ventures through Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, which is also producing
    significant research into social entrepreneurship, venture capital, and the impact of accelerators
  • Provide co-curricular efforts including Pitch the Professor, the MBA Startup Nation Israel Trip, and
    the Emory Entrepreneurship Summit, which expand student experiences and enhance program visibility


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, startups in the US account for more than 3 million new jobs each year. Fostering entrepreneurial thinking is essential, but new venture creation takes more than a good idea. It requires a deep understanding of how to build internal capacities and assess external market conditions. Entrepreneurship is about understanding customers, developing strategies, sourcing materials, finding partners, acquiring financial resources, leveraging technologies, managing people and all the countless other capacities needed to get a venture off the ground or innovate at an established organization.


  • Offer intellectual frameworks, infrastructure, and physical spaces conducive to fostering innovative thinking, entrepreneurial development, and resource deployment
  • Provide clear and well-articulated support for student-grown ventures based on the stage of the business, and the needs of founders
  • Engage in lifelong, mutually beneficial relationships with alumni and key constituent entrepreneurs
  • Discover ways to partner with the community to spark entrepreneurial interest for the benefit of the city and region
  • Be a vital component of university-wide entrepreneurial activities

RELATED: Unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit at Goizueta


[acc title=”Experiential Learning“]


Teach students the practice of business through immersive learning experiences, allowing them to develop and apply critical thinking skills to ambiguous and dynamic business challenges.


  • Continue to expand experiential learning opportunities by industry through additional project partners across degree programs, classes, and focal areas
  • Add mutually beneficial experiential learning opportunities  to engage company partners
  • Prepare students for today’s dynamic workplaces, which are increasingly filled with ambiguous and complicated problems to solve


  • Goizueta IMPACT pairs graduate students with industry for work on real-world projects to provide actionable solutions
  • Goizueta IMPACT Client Day features final student presentations, allowing for detailed interactions with alumni and corporate partners
  • Experiential learning opportunities through international trips and programs such as The Washington Campus, Pitch the Professor, and Active Learning Immersions
  • Creation of BBA Capstone that gives students the opportunity to synthesize and validate evolving perspectives in academic and applied environments
  • Courses and activities featuring applied knowledge in investments, including the Real Estate Private Equity Fund and Emory Impact Investing Group


[acc title=”Healthcare“]


Create avenues to build scholarship and practical links between market-based approaches and the healthcare industry while providing students with skills to become leaders in this rapidly expanding field. We will do so by leveraging the knowledge, network, and prestige of Emory in the healthcare space, including our nationalLY recognized schools of medicine, nursing, and public health, as well as our ties to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  • Healthcare-related faculty research in human behavior, operations, health service research, information technology, cost-effectiveness, and health policy
  • Multiple faculty members with appointments in business and other areas related to healthcare
  • Dual degrees pairing the MBA with the MD, DPT, and MPH degrees; concentrations in multiple business programs and non-degree, healthcare-focused courses in finance, strategy, innovation, analytics, and leadership
  • Coursework on healthcare marketing, policy and delivery systems, strategy, technology, and operations
  • Goizueta hosts healthcare events, including topics of future industry trends, healthcare
    innovation, and technology


  • Create valuable knowledge around the business of healthcare through industry-related research
  • Foster multidisciplinary approaches that pair the school with corporate and community partners in order to address the challenges of today and those of the future
  • Add to our existing class offerings in healthcare across programs
  • Expand career opportunities to individuals who wish to work in the industry
  • Target the healthcare sector for immediate growth through Executive Education, knowing the large demand of healthcare professionals desiring business acumen


Improving the quality and delivery of healthcare while addressing its cost is a challenge for this and future generations. Business principles and approaches can play a role in improving the healthcare delivery system domestically and around the world.

RELATED: New healthcare emphasis aids busy executives


[acc title=”Leadership“]


Prepare students to demonstrate effective leadership behaviors through fostering core values and emphasizing leadership as a  skill developed through lifelong study, experience, effective feedback, and reflection.


  • Deepen students’ self-awareness and understanding of strengths and areas of potential development
  • Provide experiences to work in teams, be an effective team member, and understand how to develop a high-performing team
  • Provide opportunities for students to practice peer leadership (clubs, fellows program, etc.)


  • Comprehensive leadership coursework and co-curricular activities for undergraduate and graduate students including the Goizueta Advanced Leadership Academy
  • Research spanning psychology, decision-making, and behavior to better understand how and why leaders are effective
  • Suite of non-degree programs focused on empowering leaders at varying levels of local, national, and international organizations
  • Access to peer mentorship and tools for student self-assessment and awareness
  • Undergraduate students plan and execute the Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conference (UBSLC), the largest conference of its kind in the country, which brings more than 100 students from around the world to campus each spring


[acc title=”Real Estate and Private Equity“]


Through coursework and experiential learning, Goizueta will empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary for successful careers in private equity and real estate, including strong professional networks and faculty and industry mentorship.


  • More than a dozen undergraduate and graduate courses spanning real estate and private equity
  • Established summer internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Opportunities for hands-on investing experience using a portion of the Emory endowment
  • Case competitions and other co-curricular activities in venture capital and private equity
  • Engagement with outside interests, including developing real estate strategies and partnering with industry-related organizations


Few cities have emerged from the Great Recession with the growth trajectory seen in Metro Atlanta. This includes an expansion of commercial real estate interests, corporate relocations to the city, and an influx of investment dollars. By fostering support for real estate and private equity programming, Goizueta places itself in a position to influence current business and prepare students to take active roles—before and after graduation—in a fertile business environment deeply connected to the global stage.


  • Provide a curriculum to prepare students for careers in real estate and private equity
  • Utilize alumni networks to expand internship and job placements for students
  • Increase opportunities to manage active funds through real estate and private equity initiatives
  • Engage with related industry in Atlanta, New York, and around the world to bring professional connections to campus and enhance the school’s reputation
  • Provide and expand co-curricular offerings and corporate engagement

RELATED: Real Estate, Private Equity and the art of the deal


[acc title=”Social Enterprise“]


Business schools are well positioned and obligated to focus on increasing prosperity and reducing poverty in ineffective markets. This core belief led to the establishment and continued growth of Social Enterprise at Goizueta (SE@G)—a research center designed to generate positive societal impacts by making markets work for more people, in more places and in more ways.


  • $1.25 million in funding for Entrepreneurship Database Program; data-driven insights help improve efficacy of entrepreneur accelerator programs
  • 30 research papers and projects initiated by faculty and students
  • 84 microbusinesses supported and $160,000 in loan capital invested in marginalized Metro Atlanta communities through Start: ME Accelerator Program
  • More than 200 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in social enterprise electives
  • Student-led clubs create a robust social-sector community; two clubs make investments in social enterprises and microbusinesses around Atlanta


The social enterprise sector is receiving increased attention and investment as nonprofits, for-profit and hybrid organizations work to create positive societal impacts. These investments—estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars globally—are made with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. SE@G believes it is critical to produce academic research, pilot market-based solutions, convene stakeholders, and develop skilled business leaders to influence the sector’s growth over the next decade.


  • Improve the effectiveness of entrepreneurship support systems around the world through research database on entrepreneurs and accelerators.
  • Close microbusiness gaps in Metro Atlanta’s marginalized communities by proving the feasibility of a citywide accelerator model and loan investment fund
  • Increase involvement in SE@G Fellows program, exposing more students to related careers and industry needs
  • Provide further transparency in specialty coffee markets and empower more female growers by scaling incubator models
  • Seed pilot programs that shape conversations on how innovative enterprises can launch, scale and spark larger societal changes

RELATED: Exploring business with a social conscience



To learn more about the ways Dean James is ensuring this value-add at Goizueta, Emory Business facilitated the following conversation between James and Todd Foreman 86BBA, partner-CEO of UCG and chairman of the Goizueta Advisory Board. The spirited discussion explored Goizueta’s fundamental mission, ways to optimize the talents already on hand, and why alumni are vital to the plan’s success.

Foreman: Good afternoon, Dean James. Let’s jump right in. Like many new leaders, you spent time talking with different constituencies and assessing the school. What did you find?

Dean James: Indeed, it was important for me to personally understand the foundation of the school. I wanted to review its history, hear possible goals, and learn what individuals felt were propelling our trajectory. Through my
meetings with faculty, staff, students, and alumni, it was confirmed to me that we have a very solid foundation.

Foreman: Now, for many alumni and friends, this will be the first opportunity they have to hear some specifics about your strategic initiatives. What might surprise readers?

Dean James: The root of this strategic plan is not about creating something new. Instead, it’s about harnessing the activity, expertise, and passion that currently exists and channeling it into a focused, ambitious agenda. Our small size makes us nimble enough to be able to explore areas of interest in more personal, more detailed ways than our competitors. Still, to elevate our offerings and position as a top business school, we need to focus our efforts for maximum impact.

Through our analysis and the aid of Boston Consulting Group, we’ve identified six key academic themes around which to differentiate the school: behavior and decision insights, business analytics, entrepreneurship, healthcare, real estate & private equity, and social enterprise. We included experiential learning and leadership as two additional topics because they are central to the delivery of these themes to students and a great avenue for corporate engagement. The win-win here is we already have success in these areas, and industry is clamoring for the additional benefit our faculty and staff can provide on these subjects.

Foreman: Eight seems like a lot to manage. How will you best leverage the school’s assets to make this differentiation happen?

Dean James: Clearly, we must acknowledge and break down any functional silos that will hinder us from success, whether it is among our own academic departments or the broader university. This may seem like an obvious statement; however, universities often have structures that challenge collaboration or idea sharing. Our plan assumes a high level of engagement across departments and schools at Emory, leveraging strengths within the whole university. Take our focus on healthcare. We already partner with the Rollins School of Public Health and the School of Medicine to provide quality programming and access for our students. In designing the new Master of Science in Business Analytics program, we sought input from a number of areas across the university including the QuanTM institute and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. These are the types of relationships that we seek to replicate for broader success.

Foreman: By broader I assume you mean beyond the campus gates. What’s the next step?

Dean James: We will expand our efforts in cultivating meaningful linkages with businesses across Metro Atlanta. We need to engage this vibrant, international city as our gateway to global business. By forming stronger relationships, we will not only provide these organizations with great talent, but the academic scholarship our faculty provides will inform solutions to some of the world’s most challenging business problems.

Foreman: You’ve acknowledged good work is already happening in areas from analytics to social enterprise. Could you explain the rationale for expecting different results?

Innovation FundDean James: Frankly, we are going to take these eight areas and identify ways to innovate. By tapping into the expertise and experience of our faculty and staff, then challenging them to bring new ideas to the table, we change the dynamics of our offerings. Specifically, we take what we know about business and create opportunities, programming, and research that has maximum influence. To spur this kind of creative mindset, we established an Innovation Fund. This is one of the things I feel most enthusiastic about. There’s nothing worse than drafting a plan without the resources to support it. We are fortunate to have received seed money from The Goizueta Foundation in the amount of $1.5 million and another $1.5 million from the university to create the Innovation Fund.

Foreman: So are you using this fund like a company would R&D?

Dean James: In a way. Our intention is to invest more deeply in the areas we’ve already begun, and, where there are new initiatives, to make sure we provide the resources for their growth. The fund allows us to finance ideas we believe have real merit and viability. In Silicon Valley and other hotbeds of innovation, the motto is “fail fast, fail often.” This, of course, is not an encouragement to fail but to experiment, take risks, and be comfortable with the fact some ideas don’t work. We can be inspired by this approach and adapt it. The fund gives us the unique opportunity to explore the rigors of innovation, generate excitement, and try different paths until we reach success.

Foreman: You have $3 million in the Innovation Fund. I would bet you’re going to see a lot of good ideas and good proposals. How are you possibly going to decide how to distribute the money?

Dean James: Fortunately for me, it’s not my decision alone. In addition to a steering committee, the faculty are playing an increasingly important role, not only in the strategic plan itself, but in the success of our school overall. We’ve identified working groups that serve as resources for anyone with an idea or initiative connected to the strategic plan. These groups, consisting of faculty and staff, can identify the strengths of those ideas and assist in shaping them for a greater chance for success.

In fact, the first submittal period garnered more than a dozen ideas that are currently under review. It’s invigorating to see all of this activity after so much planning.

Foreman: In my experience in launching new initiatives and new companies, things always seem to take longer and cost more than you ever thought. How are you going to ensure that doesn’t become the case with your strategic plan?

Dean James: Honestly, Todd, it would be disingenuous for me to say that I can ensure that would be the case. I can’t guarantee that things will always go as planned. However, I can say that we have systems in place to help us stay on track to the greatest extent possible.

Foreman: There are plenty of obstacles that can derail implementation of a plan. How will you avoid the pitfalls and concentrate on your objectives?

Dean James: With any strategic plan, you need a structure in place. We’ve hired Jennifer Kostyrna 04C, senior associate with Emory’s Business Practice Improvement, to facilitate the process. Her role is that of a project manager and she’s responsible for implementing the plan and tracking the progress we make along the way.

Also, technology will play a big role in ensuring we manage eight focal areas. We have a portfolio management system that will aid our decision-making process and capture the initiatives we will pursue as well as those we won’t. It will help us determine and track the metrics for success aligning to those dimensions. Between allocating people and technology, we have a very clear vision for moving our plan forward.

Foreman: As a Goizueta alumnus, I’m really excited about the strategic plan and a lot of the initiatives that you have going on. How can alumni help move the school forward?

Dean James: Our alumni are absolutely critical to everything that we do. With more than 18,000 alumni around the world, they are our biggest brand ambassadors. It’s important they stay connected with the school. We have some work to do in this area. Moving forward, we will make sure we offer reasons for alumni to stay connected with our faculty, our staff and with each other, quite frankly.

That’s why the strategic plan is the perfect vehicle to harness the power of our alumni. Each of the eight areas provides opportunities to connect with the school no matter where you live—from speaking in the classroom, supporting a crowdsourcing effort, or sponsoring one of the many experiential endeavors like Goizueta IMPACT or the Entrepreneurial Summit. These are just a few of the ways alumni can be a part of this important strategic initiative.

Foreman: It is great the school wants this kind of engagement from its alumni. Personally, I have benefitted greatly from giving back: I’ve taught classes and shared my time in many ways–and I live in the Washington, DC, area. I’m excited about Goizueta, so much so that now my son, Josh, is a student. Not to mention that my wife, Tracy Schafer Foreman 86BBA, and sister, Andrea Foreman Kline 93BBA, are alumnae.

Dean James: That’s the type of long-term relationships we want to cultivate. I continue to travel internationally and meet with many of our alumni. It’s a pleasure to see how they create occasions to connect with each other and support our recruiting efforts.

Foreman: Two final questions. I’ve shepherded many projects in my career and some were more successful than others. What does success look like to you?

Dean James: At the end of the day, my ultimate goal is to raise the stature of the Goizueta Business School even higher. There are metrics we can use to demonstrate this. One is we become a community that people want to join. The more we’re able to attract talent to our school–faculty, students, or staff–the more we can feel confident about the plan’s ability to move us forward.

Foreman: In essence, the plan is more of a rallying cry to faculty and staff that empowers them to share ideas that make the areas of focus better for students and, ultimately, the school as a whole?

Dean James: It’s more than that. True, this is not a traditional strategic plan. But Goizueta is not an average school. Our size, the backdrop of Atlanta, generosity of our community, along with committed faculty and staff has created an opportunity whereby we can elevate our programming and offerings to meet needs in the business community and raise our stature as a school.

There will be challenges. In my research on crisis leadership, one of the hardest aspects to overcome within an organization is implementing change. What we are doing may not seem radical, but in the academic world, launching off into new endeavors without painstaking review and analysis is often unheard of. But I am confident our people are up to the task. Empowered with support and resources, they will raise up great ideas that will elevate the stature of Goizueta and the university.