Dean Liesl Riddle
School of Business
The George Washington University
Tell us about yourself and your role at the George Washington University.
My name is Liesl Riddle, and I am the Associate Dean for MBA programs at the George Washington University. I’m also an associate professor of international business. I’ve been here at the university now for about eleven years, teaching courses in international management and marketing. Prior to that, I had a career in the market research industry.
What is your vision and mission for the George Washington University School of Business?
Well, at the George Washington University School of Business our emphasis is really being, sort of, a center of learning where we’re asking the question what is business’s role in society, really having deep conversations to understand how business can be a positive force for change in society. Our current mission is to seek even more and greater ways to create a digital community where our students, our alumni, our faculty, our staff are all engaged in, really, an e-learning ecosystem where we are learning from one another, both inside and outside the classroom.
What are the unique features of the GW Healthcare MBA online program?
As an interdisciplinary program, our online Healthcare MBA program enables students the opportunity to learn from leading experts, not only in the field of business but also in public health and medicine. The second main feature, I think, of our program is that we have an emphasis on business ethics and the global environment in our curriculum structure. So students get a strong foundation in MBA fundamentals with an emphasis in those areas, but then also go on to take electives in very specific healthcare topics, like risk and compliance in healthcare management or electronic medical records.
Students in our program also have the opportunity to study abroad. They take for example; some of them take comparative healthcare systems course where they actually go and study abroad in Sweden, comparing the United States and Swedish healthcare systems. Others might join a more general topics course, like my own actual Global Perspectives in Ethiopia course where students learn how to apply the basic fundamentals that we discuss in the global perspectives required course but within a particular country setting, in Ethiopia.
What is the long-term vision for the GW Healthcare MBA online program?
Our continued focus on trying to find increasing ways to build community. Right now our students establish strong community relationships within each class, so students work in different teams with a sub group of their fellow students enrolled in that class, they get to know their faculty. But we’re trying to develop new co-curricular programs, things that you can do outside the classroom that enable students optional activities and enable students the opportunity to get to know students, not just in their class but in the program in general will also, I think, provide students an opportunity to get to know so many of our amazing alumni that have graduated from our program and are really putting into practice the very things that they’ve learned in these … in these courses and in this program in the real world.
How does GW build a thriving online community at a local and global level?
Well, I think it starts first with our orientation program. Our orientation program is actually offered on campus, so it provides a student opportunity to actually come to Washington, DC, come and experience the School of Business and its brick and mortar environment. But really, I think, here the emphasis is really placed on the people side of the program, getting to know our faculty, networking with fellow students. I think it’s in our orientation program that students establish bonds that really, sort of, transcend the orientation program itself and really enter into the classroom. They become foundational moments that take the student through the entire program.
How does the program build entrepreneurial spirit for the healthcare professional?
So many of our students come to our online healthcare MBA program with an interest in entrepreneurship, in one of its flavors. Some of our students are interested in starting a new business; others actually have their own new venture but are looking for ways to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. And others are actually working within organizations, they want to be intrapreneurs, those thinking different and thinking … bringing new processes and product to the fore in their organizations.
In short, we believe the entire online Healthcare MBA program really tries to encourage students to think more entrepreneurially. The projects that students do throughout all of the core courses emphasize creativity, business analytics, research, these are skills that any entrepreneur, no matter what their domain of activity, need to master in order to be successful. We also in our core curriculum have an entire course, an entrepreneurship course, dedicated to bringing all the core business fundamentals into a singular focus, to understand how to apply business fundamentals in an entrepreneurial setting.
Why is this a great environment to learn about the “business of healthcare”?
George Washington School of Business is located, of course, in Washington, DC, which is really a hot bed of innovation as regards the healthcare industry. This is where the deep conversations are taking place, in the for-profit sector, the government sector, the non-governmental organizational arena where people are asking the question what’s next for healthcare. This type of an environment attracts world class faculty with an interest in this particular industry, and we’re so lucky to have them on faculty in the School of Business, and in our School of Public Health and in the School of Medicine. And our faculty really are the ones that bring these conversations to our students in the classroom. We also are afforded the great opportunity, because of our location, to bring in hot topic guest speakers who are leading these conversations in Washington, DC.
No matter where the health professional sits in, sort of, the ecosystem of healthcare, whether it be in the for-profit, government, non-governmental arena, a strong mastery of basic business fundamentals, the same things that you’ll learn in our online Healthcare MBA program, is really essential to, ‘a’, really understanding all the dynamic change going on in the industry today but also to prepare for tomorrow.
Are there any final thoughts that you would like to share with prospective students?
Well, graduates of our program often tell me that, “Dean Riddle, convenient doesn’t always mean easy, and make sure prospective students know that.” Online learning offers the wonderful opportunity of being able to learn on our time. But I think it’s important for students to understand that in order to be successful in the program students need to find their best time to learn. For some, that’s early in the morning, for others, that’s at the lunch break, for others, that’s in the evening after the kids go to bed. But I think it’s very important for prospective students to think very strategically, when is this convenient online learning time going to happen and when is it best for them.
I think a second piece of advice that I have for students is really to take advantage of the opportunity of when you’ve gone back to school to really network, not only with the faculty that you’ll meet in our program but also with your peers. We have some amazing students that take this program. We have folks in the hospital administration, lawyers, doctors, research scholars. It’s an amazing community in this online Healthcare MBA program. And I think too often, with our busy lives, it’s hard to remember that this is a special time in one’s life, going back to school, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow, not only with your faculty but with other peers in the program as well.
My last piece of advice for any student considering our program is to come visit us at gwsb.campusgroups.com. Our campus groups website was designed for prospective students as well as current students. It’s a place where you can learn what other students are talking about, you can ask them questions in a Facebook-like interface. You can see through our … our calendar what events are going on in our face-to-face as well as our digital community. You can really become part of our community. So I encourage you today to go to gwsb.campusgroups.com.