Educating future leaders

Christine Poon, Dean, Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University

Christine Poon, Dean, Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University

Christine Poon says the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University is at the heart of an inextricable relationship between the university and the economic health of Ohio. As dean, she has led the college in training students with a strong business program led by knowledgeable faculty.

In addition to turning out well-trained graduates, the college focuses on providing a vast array of resources to attract, retain and create new business in the area. Poon said the goal is to ultimately uplift the local economy through these efforts.

Because of her leadership in expanding the college’s resources to accommodate enrollment growth and attract new business, Smart Business, U.S. Bank and Blue Technologies named Poon to the 2011 class of Columbus Smart Leader honorees. She told us how the Fisher College of Business has worked to update its physical and educational assets and to form strong partnerships.

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

As the reputation of Fisher College of Business grows, so does our need for space to accommodate the increasing number of students admitted into our academic programs. The students of today require far more than a book and a pencil — technology plays a central, continuously evolving role in the classroom. So, although Fisher campus is only a decade old, we needed to provide more modern spaces for learning, team building and collaboration.

An opportunity opened up to rethink our use of the Mason Hall building. We formed a task force to complete a needs assessment and identified a chair to shepherd blueprints and lead the construction project. A year later, we are preparing for the reopening of a building that truly mirrors the workspaces of today — open, interactive and wired.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

The competition to attract high-quality students is fierce. After graduation, students face equal competition in the job market. We recognize that as the academic quality of our undergraduate student body increases, so must our efforts to offer an ‘MBA-like’ educational experience. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Fisher launched two pilot industry clusters in health care and energy and sustainability. In concert with the business community and select alumni, we sought to deepen our students’ understanding of these specific industries in order to better position them for future careers.

Each cluster attracted high-achieving students. Among students participating in the industry cluster program, 85 percent secured summer internships. Of that number, 25 percent secured internships with companies participating in the program. During the next academic year, we will add a third cluster focusing on financial services. We believe that Fisher’s industry cluster program is a win-win for students and for the business community. Students receive a depth of industry knowledge unparalleled in the undergraduate experience, while businesses gain access to top students eager explore specific skills.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

One way in which Fisher makes a significant impact in the economy of our state and nation is through our Centers of Excellence. Fisher Centers facilitate a powerful connection with the business community through research, business to business collaboration, partnerships with government, student engagement and mentoring and knowledge creation.

Our areas of focus include entrepreneurship, operations strategy and management, among others. We are currently collaborating with GE to unveil a national center on middle market research — the first of its kind in the nation. Fisher Centers of Excellence link faculty expertise, student creativity, and the business community to provide critical insights that grow business and impact the economy.

How to reach: The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University, (614) 292-8937 or

See all of the 2011 Columbus Smart Leaders on the next page.