Doug Collom, Vice Dean for Wharton | San Francisco, has been on the job just over a year now, and he’s busy making things happen at the School’s West Coast campus. On his first anniversary at Wharton, we talked to him about the MBA Program for Executives, what he’s been doing to build community around the campus, and his long-term vision for Wharton | San Francisco.
Students and Alumni: An Enduring Legacy
“What stands out for me is the energy of the students – they are amazing. You walk into the building, and you are among a group of incredibly talented people who bring a real sense of purpose. They come knowing that they’re undertaking a very challenging program – studying with some of the best faculty in the world and working their way through a tough curriculum.
“But what they find through the course of the program is something that they didn’t expect – that they’re not just studying; they’re also building a network of colleagues and friends. When they graduate from the program, they walk away with not only an unmatched credential – the Wharton MBA – but also with a lifelong network of connections, which is an enduring legacy.”
Campus: One Big Family
“Our campus is an intense environment without a lot of distraction. On any given weekend, we have about 100 students who parachute in, go to class together, and eat meals and study together. When they’re on campus, they’re always together as a group, and they develop a very strong identity as a group. A good example of this is the graduation party organized by the outgoing class each year. When you’re at this party and you see everyone together in a social context, you get the sense that it is one big family. Everyone knows one another. They know each other’s spouses. They know each other’s kids. It’s really quite remarkable.
“And now the word is getting out that life on campus doesn’t end upon graduation. Over the past year, we have hosted a variety of events at Wharton | San Francisco, including speakers and panels from different industries, social events, class mixers, and faculty presentations. These events have generally been ‘sold out’ within a day or two following the announcement, and so we know that alumni are looking for more ways to connect to the Wharton community. Now we’re making plans to go on the road to host events in other cities such as L.A. and Seattle.”
Vision: Beyond Finance
“We are at the gateway to Silicon Valley. A substantial majority of our students have experience in or are in jobs directly related to entrepreneurship. We need to meet that critical mass of interest, creating more opportunities for students and alumni to plug into the entrepreneurship community.
“Wharton is known as a finance school, and while it’s true that we have tremendous strength in finance, the fact is that we have bench strength far beyond finance. We have top scholars in ethics, health care, environmental law, entrepreneurship, marketing, management, operations, and the list goes on. What we’d like to do at Wharton | San Francisco is to differentiate ourselves in entrepreneurship, but in a much more three-dimensional way beyond the realm of technology.
“So we’re going to bring on board a program development director for the Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs (WEP) here in San Francisco. Our objective is not just to replicate what we already have in Philadelphia, but to adapt what WEP has established at the Philadelphia campus to the needs of our students and alumni to make sure it dovetails with the business community and culture on the West Coast.”
As Wharton | San Francisco begins its 10th year of operation, we look forward to the development of new programs and opportunities for students, alumni, and business leaders in the West, under Doug’s continued leadership.