While traveling through Hungary, dt ogilvie, whose first and last names are spelled with only lowercase letters, found herself in a train station. There was a brightly colored line on the ground marking an area where travelers could not enter, but ogilvie and the group she was with accidentally crossed the line.
Police swarmed them, ready to ticket or detain the group, but ogilvie stepped in with her fluent Hungarian to explain they had made a mistake and did not mean to enter the area. The police let them go.
This month ogilvie started as dean of the E. Philip Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology after being named to the position in May. She makes it a habit to learn at least the basics of the language of whatever country she visits.
Part of this is her meticulous nature—the same one that helped her finish first in her class in the MBA program at Southern Methodist University in Texas—but it is also her recognition that the world of business has no borders. As a professor at the Rutgers Business School within Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, ogilvie taught classes on international business and organized student groups to visit China.
This dedication and ability to clearly see challenges ahead and then come up with creative solutions was not lost on RIT officials.
“One of the things that really attracted us to her was her wide range of interests and the fact that she’s a very critical thinker,” says Jeremy Haefner, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at RIT.
For ogilvie, the post at RIT is a chance to use her creativity to guide the college.
“I’ve noticed that RIT is one of the first schools to talk about creativity and invention along with innovation,” says ogilvie. “Most schools use the word ‘innovation’ so much that it really loses all of its meaning.”
Now ogilvie looks to lead the Saunders College, taking over from the retired Ashok Rao, on a path similar to the one she put Rutgers on. That will put a strong focus on urban partnerships and international business in a way that fits in with RIT’s overall focus on innovation. She also takes over in the midst of a campaign to raise $20 million and involve more alumni.
The Saunders College has an enrollment of 937, including 659 undergraduates, and 47 faculty members.
New paths at Rutgers
After going to Rutgers Business School in 2007 as a professor of business strategy and urban entrepreneurship, ogilvie saw an unmet need in the city of Newark, N.J. There were people with the desire and skills to start businesses but without the resources or help to do it.
So ogilvie came up with a solution, founding the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, a program that integrates scholarly work with funding from a variety of sources to promote urban growth.
The center has a particular focus on promoting social entrepreneurship, those businesses that aim to give back to the communities along with turning a profit.
“A perfect example of this idea is Greyston Bakery in Brooklyn,” ogilvie says. “They make brownies that are used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but their real purpose is to employ people, not just make money.”
Along with a focus on urban entrepreneurship, this attention on socially conscious businesses helped create what she describes as a “tipping point” in the Newark neighborhood where the efforts were centered. The center invested in several businesses, turning the area around and attracting seven or eight new businesses, ogilvie recalls.
As the only urban entrepreneurship program in the nation, the center led efforts to make this area an academic study. She helped to develop an undergraduate minor and MBA concentration in urban entrepreneurship.
She led other efforts to promote business among groups that were not traditionally involved in it. She helped to start a program to teach business skills to first-generation entrepreneurs. It was so successful that the program’s alumni started their own association to keep the connection going.
The program worked primarily because it crafted a business education and set of tools designed for the population in urban areas, says Arturo Osorio Fernandez, assistant professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School.
“The idea many schools have is that people who want to be entrepreneurs know about how to run a business because they have a parent or cousin or someone who has run one before,” Osorio Fernandez says. “But these are people who are maybe first-generation immigrants or come from low-income backgrounds, so they need a different set of tools.”
Through her work at Rutgers Business School, ogilvie helped push the idea of urban entrepreneurship to a national scale. Rutgers Business School played host to the first White House Urban Entrepreneurship Summit in 2011. It brought together public and private experts to discuss how to best support growth and success for urban entrepreneurs in a global economy.
“We helped make urban entrepreneurship part of the national discussion, and there were actually some significant changes that came as a result of that conference,” ogilvie says. “It led to President Obama proposing programs to help these people. Before, if someone was out of work and started their own business, they would lose their unemployment, but he made a proposal that they would get to keep (it).”
The conference also showed that though the government offered many resources to help owners of small to midsize businesses, they were often difficult to find apart from the government’s aid to large businesses. So the federal government added an easy-to-use portal where urban business owners could gain access to programs.
Something of an expert on that subject, ogilvie obtained federal funding for some of Rutgers Business School’s programs and then used that to leverage private funds to sustain those programs.
“It was great for Rutgers Business School and really showed how government funding can be used to stimulate things,” ogilvie says.
She sees creativity and strategic thinking as a strategy rather than an analytical exercise, and ogilvie’s hobbies outside of work reflect this philosophy. She enjoys reading and playing card games like bid whist and bridge. She also likes to watch movies but says she really only has time for that when she is on an airplane.
The focus on business innovation that she brings to her work in academia is in her DNA, ogilvie says. She comes from an entrepreneurial family and has started businesses herself, once making and selling her own jewelry.
As a result of this upbringing, ogilvie sees entrepreneurship not as an academic exercise but as a key driver of the local and national economy.
“This area is so important because entrepreneurs make such an impact,” ogilvie says. “So much of the nation’s hiring and innovation come from these small and (midsize) businesses, and it really is them that’s fueling our economy.”
Skills to RIT
At the Saunders College, ogilvie envisions continuing her focus on urban partnerships, this time with the city of Rochester.
Much of the potential comes from RIT’s strong focus on innovation, she says. When she interviewed for the dean’s position, the vision and focus that originated from President William Destler resonated with ogilvie, leading her to see the college as a great fit for her skills.
She now hopes to be able to accomplish some of the same results in Rochester that Rutgers Business School did in Newark.
“We have a lot of talent and intellectual capital both in the area and at RIT,” ogilvie says. “There’s a really great environment where we can make a real difference.”
One big advantage in coming to RIT is that the networking she did at Rutgers will carry over, ogilvie says.
“We hope to be able to continue getting the same kind of funding and support going forward,” she says. “The relationships I’ve made over the years come with me; they’re not going to be relegated to Rutgers.”
But the Saunders College offers an advantage few other business schools do, ogilvie says. Because it resides in a university with strength in science and engineering as well as the arts, the college is able to create a wide-ranging experience for students.
“It’s great to have people coming together with skills in the arts, engineering, sciences and business,” ogilvie says. “To be truly successful in business, you need someone to come up with the ideas, someone to conceptualize those ideas and then make them into products, and also someone who can sell that product to consumers. At RIT we have all of those things.”
The Saunders College includes other innovative elements, such as an accelerator program that teaches business skills in a short time and a student business incubator that was recently rated No. 1 in the nation by BestCollegesOnline.com.
For RIT, ogilvie’s work with the urban entrepreneurship center fits perfectly with goals of developing a stronger relationship with Rochester, Haefner says.
It is a skill ogilvie knows well. While at Rutgers she excelled at creating school-city connections that fostered entrepreneurial efforts in urban areas, Osorio Fernandez says.
“She really was great at working with city officials and getting them to be partners in these efforts,” he says.
Her focus on international business and the networking skills she brings were also strong factors in her selection as dean, Haefner notes.
“When I did all the reference checking for her in the interview process, everyone I talked to had nothing but positive things to say about her,” he says.
So far, ogilvie says, most of her time has been spent getting up to speed on the college’s programs and assessing its strengths and weaknesses, but she does have some rough goals in mind already.
The college is in the midst of a $20 million fundraising campaign, spurred by a $5 million challenge grant from Philip Saunders. As part of that challenge, Saunders called on the college to make better connections with alumni, a goal shared by ogilvie.
“We have a lot of alumni who have drifted away from the college, and one of my goals is to meet with them and let them know we care about them and what they’re doing, and that we see them as part of our history and the fabric of this college,” she says.
Outside of the Saunders College, ogilvie is busy as well. Having just moved to the area within the month, she is looking for a more permanent home somewhere in Rochester or Brighton.
While she is keeping her goals for the college general, at least until she has more time in the position, ogilvie says there is one thing she definitely wants to do—get students and faculty excited about the direction of the college.
It is an excitement she already has herself.
“I wish I could be a student today,” she says. “When I went to school, you were encouraged to graduate and then go work for a big business. Now today students see these young entrepreneurs striking out on their own, the Sergey Brins and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world.
“The students see what they can accomplish while still being true to themselves. That makes this a very exciting time.”
Title: Dean, E. Philip Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology
Age: Declined to provide
Education: Ph.D. in strategic marketing, University of Texas at Austin, 1994; MBA in business strategy and policy, Southern Methodist University, Texas, 1986; B.A. in sociology, Oberlin College, Ohio
Residence: No permanent residence; looking for a home in Rochester or Brighton
Activities: Reading, playing cards, traveling, learning languages
Quote: "I wish I could be a student today. When I went to school, you were encouraged to graduate and then go work for a big business. Now today students see these young entrepreneurs striking out on their own, the Sergey Brins and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world."
8/24/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.