20th Anniversary Interview: Jamie Belinne

ImageJamie Belinne is a founding member of MBA CSEA, currently working as Assistant Dean at the Bauer College of Business, University of Houston. She is a past board member, Vice President, current Global Conference subcommittee co-chair and a past recipient of the MBA CSEA Service Award for Significant Contributions Over Time.

  1. What was it like being around when the organization first began? What was going on in the industry? The job market?

I remember spending what felt like half of my life running different statistics for about five different media outlets that all collected different data in different ways, and I spent the other half of my life calling my peers at other schools to figure out how they were getting the statistics the media reported from their schools.  The most common answer was, “ Where did you see that number for us?  I never see the numbers that go to the media.  Our PR office or our Dean comes up with those.  I don’t know where they come from.”  At the same time, career center directors were being hired and fired every year based on what amounted to their creative writing skills when reporting to the media.  We were all sick of it.  There were certainly other issues in our business and a need for more benchmarking and best practices sharing, but there were some groups facilitating this on a small scale already.  The biggest challenges were to determine what data to collect and how to analyze and report it consistently.  One of my favorite changes we made was when we all refused to report “number of offers per student” anymore.  What a horrible data point – and all of the magazines seemed to want to report it!  If it’s low, your prospective students don’t want to come.  But if it’s high, your prospective employers don’t want to come.  We held firm that a student who receives one, great offer that they want to accept is a success.  Nobody asks us to report this kind of silliness anymore, thanks to the organization.

2.  Why did you first become involved in the organization?

There was a Denver meeting in 1993 and a San Diego meeting in 1994, and I kept coming pretty regularly after that, except for the two summers I had babies and the one summer I changed jobs.

3.  What is the biggest thing you’ve gained from your involvement through the years?

Friends and networks.

4.  What, in your opinion, is our most significant accomplishment as an organization to date?

The standards.

5.  What advice to you have for us for the next 20 years?

Our jobs are very intense and stressful, and we’re under constant scrutiny and pressure.  MBA CSEA should be an escape from that.  I’ve always said this group was like my annual group therapy.  We need to be careful not to carry the stress and pressure of our daily jobs into the organization.  We’re all very driven and achievement oriented, which is part of why we’ve been successful as a group.  We need to remember to relax and have fun when we get the opportunity, though.  Don’t take it all so seriously that the original intent of creating a safe space with a unified support system is lost.

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