Ian Harper to retire after transforming Melbourne Business School
After five years of change and renewed connections to business and academia, Professor Ian Harper says it’s time to pass the baton to a new Dean at Australia’s top business school.
“Having helped set the School on a positive new course, I now look forward to seeing where a new leader and strong leadership team can take it,” says Professor Harper.
“I am sure it will be to places I could never imagine going, and I’ll be watching the future journey with great interest.”
When he took up the role as Dean of Melbourne Business School in March 2018, Professor Harper’s brief was to strengthen its relationships with business, the wider community and the University of Melbourne as its graduate school of business – a brief he’s more than filled, says ANZ Bank CEO Shayne Elliott.
“Communities succeed socially and economically when the business sector is well functioning, with a strong sense of purpose and able to capture the creativity and talents of our people,” Mr Elliott says.
“Melbourne Business School plays a crucial role in developing those attributes so that the broader community can prosper and participate. Under Professor Harper’s leadership the relationship, alignment and shared interest between MBS and the broader business community has never been stronger.”
Melbourne Business School Board Chairman, Ross Barker says Professor Harper’s time as Dean has been one of continuous change and improvement.
Highlights of Ian Harper's leadership
“The Board is immensely grateful to Ian for his inspirational leadership of Melbourne Business School through a period of demanding challenge and change. This has seen the School greatly improve and strengthen its links with the University and the business community and transform its capacity to respond to the needs of our students. His shoes will be very difficult to fill.”
One highlight of Professor Harper’s time as Dean has been the launch of the new Institute for the Future of Business, a partnership with the University of Melbourne and leading life, health and wellbeing insurer AIA Australia to change the face of business education.
Other highlights include working with the University to establish the Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership and winning re-accreditation of the School and Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) by US and European accreditation agencies.
“It has been a privilege and pleasure to work closely with Ian in bringing the University/Faculty and Melbourne Business School closer together,” FBE Dean Professor Paul Kofman says.
“Shared initiatives like Dilin Duwa, accreditation and the Institute for the Future of Business are cutting edge, reflect the zeitgeist of business education and could only be achieved by working together.
“Our institutions are both the stronger for Ian’s leadership, support and respect for his colleagues.”
Professor Harper also oversaw the establishment of the Centre for Sustainability and Business at Melbourne Business School to improve leadership and outcomes for organisations in this crucial field.
During his term, he has supported the launch of the School’s first online MBA and short courses, hybrid learning initiatives, a virtual classroom and learning innovation lab to keep the School at the forefront of business education – plus a new senior leadership team has been recruited.
New leadership team
In his farewell message to faculty and staff, Professor Harper said: “I’m excited by the quality of our new leadership team and other recent arrivals, who, I know have come here because they see opportunities and a great future for the School.”
One new senior leader, Chief Engagement Officer Steve Berridge, says he was attracted to the School because of Professor Harper’s strong leadership.
“The School has built its reputation on an ability to bring great minds – both faculty and students – together to create something special. As Dean, Ian has played a crucial role in growing the School’s reputation, and the prospect of joining him and his team was a key part of what attracted me to MBS.”
Another new leader at the School, Chief Learning Innovation Officer Nora Koslowski, says she values Ian’s leadership style and human qualities.
“As a leader, I’ve always felt supported and encouraged by Ian. He hired me to start in a senior leadership role at MBS when I was 31-weeks pregnant with my daughter. And yet, the compromises this required did not matter to him. Instead, it was about finding the right hire and enabling that person,” she says.
“He leaves a legacy of trusting the leaders he appoints with their respective expertise, listening well, and empowering those around him to make the decisions that are in the best interests of MBS.”
In his message to faculty and staff, Professor Harper thanked everyone for contributing to the School’s transformation but singled out the School’s Dean, Internal, Professor Caron Beaton-Wells, for special mention.
“She has fulfilled every expectation I had of the 'two Deans' model that the MBS Board agreed to implement when I returned as Dean. I take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge Caron for her leadership and determination in fulfilling every aspect of her role with great flair.”
Professor Harper returned to Melbourne Business School in 2018 as Dean after a long career that included 20 years as a professor at the University of Melbourne and the School, chairing the federal government's Competition Policy Review (the Harper Review), working as a Deloitte partner, advising the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Australia) board and sitting on the Reserve Bank of Australia board – a position he still holds.
The search for a replacement
He will continue as Dean of Melbourne Business School until leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) can find a replacement through a global search.
Nominations for the next Dean of Melbourne Business School can be submitted to RRA at [email protected], with only the names and current institution/organisation of nominees required. The reasons for a nomination can be included but are not necessary.
Russell Reynolds will contact nominees and ask them to submit their CV if they are interested. The firm encourages the nomination of strong candidates, whether they are known to be open to a new opportunity or not. All nominations will be kept strictly confidential.