Industry trends and technological advances require business schools to be constantly refining and updating their curricula. The MSM-Finance program at the Weatherhead School of Management turns to the expertise of an Employer Advisory Board to make sure its curriculum is turning out the kinds of graduates employers are demanding. 

Created in 2014, the advisory board—which is comprised of executives from companies such as KeyBank, University Hospitals and the private equity firm Riverside—helps ensure Weatherhead's coursework and approach is preparing students for modern-day workplaces. 

Rick Green, KeyBank
However, the advisory board also benefits employers, says member Rick Green, a senior vice president and group head of credit modeling, analytics & reserves at KeyBank, as well as an adjunct professor of finance who has taught fixed income securities in the MSM-Finance program. Green spoke with beyond about the "open feedback loop" that's strengthening ties between Weatherhead, its students and the business community.

beyond: What makes the advisory board distinctive?

Rick Green: The folks at Weatherhead are really interested in feedback as to how to make the program better. Putting in the [investment-related experiential learning hub] Bloomberg Lab—that was based on a lot of feedback from employers over the years. And some of the big data elements within the MSM-Finance track [were] born out of some employer feedback. It is truly an open feedback loop. That really helps solidify how valuable it is, both for the school and for us, as employers, because we get a chance to communicate what we're looking for. 

B: Between technology and the way workplaces move so fast, schools need to keep up with trends and be sure they're helping students learn the right things and gain the right tools needed for employment.

RG: That’s exactly right. And then we try to make it as open as possible in terms of providing a lot of graduate internships, because that way while somebody is still going through the program, be it a one-year or two-year program for graduate students, it gives them the actual work experience to take back as they're learning. It's a continuous process. 

B: What specific, tangible benefits have you seen the advisory board have on the students? 

RG: I’ve seen a change and a shift in a student's ability to be able to come in and make an impact sooner. Which, one, obviously, is good for the receiving firm, but it's also very good for them because they can quickly get integrated. Most of them, if not all of them, are interested in a full-time offer. And if they're able to make a quicker or more immediate impact, and a positive impression on employers, it's extremely beneficial for them. 

B: On a personal, non-work element, what has involvement with the advisory board given you? What sort of insights have you learned?

RG: You get the opportunity to hear what other employers are thinking about and you can evaluate whether that syncs up with some of your strategic priorities and your mindset in terms of where you're headed. You also get a lot of insight into new things within the programs. Big data is a fairly new program, and that's a field that's evolving very, very rapidly. It's one from a strategic mindset that we have to stay on top of. And modeling for sure, because the landscape changes so much. We're able to glean a lot of insights out of those meetings and understand what the school's perspective is through the curriculum that they're teaching, and some of the learnings, and some of the things we learn from the students on the job through their internships. It's very insightful. There's a load of perspective that we would never otherwise have.

B: From your teaching experience and from being on the advisory board, what makes Weatherhead stand out from other business schools and business curricula? 

RG: There is an extreme intensity [of focus] on not only learning—because most universities are good at that—but the applicability of that learning to the business world. What I mean by that is the ability to think through and solve problems and take that framework and be able to apply it into almost any business situation. The students come out ready to do that. And that's not always a given. 

Sometimes that manifests itself in the simple concept of being proactive versus reactive. I find that most Weatherhead graduates are very proactive. They're very intellectually curious and they attack problems. That's a mindset, and it reverberates through the whole school. All the professors I've met have the same mentality and the same tone in the way they teach. That intensity, that curiosity, really carries over.