AACSB Blog

Interview with Industry: Imagination, Collaboration Required


Posted February 01, 2015 by Shaun Budnik - Partner - Deloitte LLP

Facilitated by Lee Davidson, Senior Associate, Copywriter/Editor, AACSB International

How has your passion for education—and your career experiences—influenced your decision to be part of AACSB's Business Practices Council?

Budnik: My passion for education was ignited through my work with the Deloitte Foundation, where I served as president from 2006–2013. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of educational institutions to elevate standards and build bridges between educators and the business community. I’ve always thought that the business world and academia have lots to offer each other, and I look for ways to strengthen the collaboration between them.

One highlight of my time at the Deloitte Foundation was the work we did with the American Accounting Association (AAA). We collaborated with the AAA on a variety of topics, from faculty research to curriculum design, and I was looking for ways to scale and extend the reach of those efforts.

It came together when I met Jerry Trapnell from AACSB. At the time, Jerry was working closely with the AAA on changes to AACSB’s accounting accreditation standards. I was excited to learn that AACSB had created a network of business school deans. That network was something unique—and it had enormous potential as a platform for collaboration.

So when AACSB formed a task force to determine if there should be a formal Business Practices Council of the board, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m a now a proud member of the council, and I’m confident our work will be transformative.

What do you hope or envision the Business Practices Council can achieve that will support business school innovation and engagement?

Budnik: Innovation and engagement go hand in hand. I see them as part of a continuous circle: increased engagement speeds the flow of ideas and innovative practices, while business school innovation reveals new and greater opportunities for engagement. The cycling of ideas and the widening of the circle are more important than ever now.

So there are a few areas where the council can focus their efforts, moving forward.

First, expanding AACSB’s business community network would likely be a good place to start. Widen the circle, and benefit from the network effect. Reaching out to even more businesses will likely help bring more ideas, resources, and collaboration opportunities to the schools and will increase the value of the network for everyone involved.

Second, and to help AACSB expand, the council should consider educating the business community on the opportunity they have to support, and help advance the future of, business schools and business education. Business can be a driver of innovation in the schools. Let’s talk about what the business community has to offer—practical experience, ideas and resources— and spell out the value of strong relationships.

Third, the council should consider doing more to specify the skill sets and talent that the business community needs, now and moving forward, and open up a conversation about how to achieve that through curricular offerings as well as through ongoing professional education and new collaboration efforts.

Together the business community and educational institutions can lead change, not just react to it. Education should help set the pace. Business should accelerate it. The more each side can do to develop the other, the better. The council provides a platform to advance that work.

Are there any challenges facing global business today that could be better approached through a partnership with academe?

Budnik: Things are changing rapidly, and meeting today’s challenges is going to take imagination, collaboration, and leadership.

The talent of the future will likely require different skill sets. Technology has rendered some skills obsolete even as it demands new skills and different ideas of what business and business education should look like.

Currently, there’s a significant demand for data scientists. But it goes deeper than that. The data-centric organization of the near future may do everything differently, from product design to talent management. So it’s important to think about how to integrate data mining, analytics, and security into other areas of education—across the business curriculum—and how faculty can be incented to do that.

At the same time, there should be a focus on ensuring that schools are producing creative, entrepreneurial thinkers who can translate data to strategies, stories, and actionable insights.

It’s important to be prepared for a borderless world in which talent has greater global mobility than ever before. Companies are becoming more globally integrated and geographically dispersed, and economic momentum continues to pivot toward Asia. There will likely be an increasing demand for people who can easily adapt to different cultural contexts, teaming, and working across cultural divides.

New ideas about the role business plays in society—spurred on by the sustainability movement and the advance of corporate social responsibility—suggest another area where business and academe can work together: designing purpose-driven organizations. As Deloitte’s most recent annual Millennial Survey shows, the organization that is focused on improving society, and not just products and profits, is now a magnet for top talent.

Finally, doing more, together, to develop the leaders of tomorrow is key. Too often, businesses are trying to bridge the leadership gap on their own. At Deloitte we’ve met this challenge head-on, establishing Deloitte University, our own leadership center. But many organizations do not have the capacity to do that. Organizations could make great advances together and learn from each other in the process.

What are the three most important things institutions must do now in order to remain relevant to industry—both now, and well into the future?

Budnik: One would be to do work that is more relevant to industry. Dialogue is crucial to setting a shared agenda. Then it’s up to institutions to direct research and teaching to critically important areas, and to help business gain insight into emerging trends.

Innovate and be open to innovation. Historical revenue sources are diminished, and there’s a PhD shortage. But new technology driven delivery methods as well as new business models can help institutions succeed in this environment. One key way to accomplish this is to adapt and stay agile.

Encourage faculty to take risks and experiment. Institutions should consider offering incentives and support for faculty who are truly innovative, and who are retooling curricula to meet the real-world needs of business.

What is the one piece of advice you would give graduate students as they pursue business education?

Budnik: Your education is just the start of a journey. The world is changing so rapidly that you should keep learning and developing throughout your career. You’ll probably learn most working with those who are least like you. You are likely to learn more when your workplace is inclusive and to do your best work when your team is built from diverse strengths. You have lots to learn, and something to teach as well.


BudnikShaun Budnik, partner, Deloitte LLP, is a Strategy, Brand, and Innovation partner currently on assignment to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), the global organization of which Deloitte LLP in the United States is a member firm. She helps drive various global strategic projects focusing currently on DTTL’s internal organization. Just prior to this assignment she was president for eight years of the Deloitte Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports educational programming that is shaping the talent of our future. Funded by Deloitte and its retired partners, the Foundation contributed nearly 50 million USD over the last decade to promote excellence in teaching, research, and curriculum innovation. Under Budnik’s leadership, the Foundation has not only expanded its support of existing academic programs, such as the Trueblood Seminars and the Tax Faculty Symposium, but has also developed new programs to address challenges facing the business, such as the PhD and talent shortages.

Budnik also created Deloitte’s University Relations Center of Excellence, an area that strategically leverages Deloitte’s best services and resources with colleges and universities across the country such as providing transition labs for new deans and connecting Deloitte University with our academic colleagues. She is currently serving a three-year term on the board of directors of the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). She also serves on the AACSB Audit Committee, the Committee on Accreditation Policy, the Committee on Issues in Management Education, and the Business Practices Council. She has served as vice president-Practice for the Audit Section of the American Accounting Association and as a board member on the Federation of Schools of Accounting Board of Directors. She is the vice-chair of the advisory board for her alma mater, the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University (Chicago), and serves on the Tulane Freeman School of Business Advisory Board.

Budnik previously worked with Deloitte’s Partner Services and Talent Services teams driving succession planning for Deloitte partners. She served as partner-in-charge of Deloitte’s Assurance practice in Stamford, Connecticut, where she advised clients in the manufacturing, life science, satellite services, and distribution industries on accounting and SEC matters.

Since joining Deloitte in 1998, Budnik has become a catalyst for the advancement of women in the corporate sector and has spoken at many conferences on issues facing women in the workplace. In 2003, she became the national director for the Retention and Advancement of Women, and in 2000, served as leader of Deloitte’s Tri-State Women’s Initiative.

Budnik received her BBA in accounting from Loyola University (Chicago). She is a CPA and became a partner at Deloitte in 2000. She resides in Danbury, Connecticut, with her husband, Greg Budnik (partner, McGladrey & Pullen), and their three teenage daughters.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.


This article was originally featured in the February 2015 issue of eNEWSLINE.

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