20th Anniversary Interview: Ken Keeley

ImageKen Keeley is a retired professional, assisting MBA CSEA with the Agreed Upon Procedures reviews. His is formerly Executive Director of the Career Opportunities Center at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. Ken is an incorporator of MBA CSEA, former board member and past recipient of the MBA CSEA Service Award for Significant Contributions Over Time. Ken is also a lifetime member of MBA CSEA.

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

When the first MBA career services professionals were meeting to see if they could organize to create standards for their own profession, I was not working in career services. At that time, I was the Director of the MBA Program at The Ohio State University and serving on the Board of Trusties of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). One of my colleagues at Ohio State – Mary Rose – worked in MBA Career Services for us, and represented Ohio State at those meetings. Given that the career services folks did not yet have an organization or resources, they received some limited resources and eventually the opportunity to attend one of GMAC’s Annual Meetings as a means of helping them to develop the organization they became.

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

In March of 1994, I moved from Ohio State to take a position at Carnegie Mellon University’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration (now the Tepper School of Business). I was employed as the Director of the Career Opportunity Center and reported to the Associate Dean of Career Services – Jean Eisel. Jean and I had worked together from 1978 to 1981 at Ohio State, and had remained close friends. In 1997, I became the Secretary and Editor of the newsletter for the MBA Career Services Council. Jean Eisel and Jackie Wilbur were close friends. At that time, Jackie – one of the moving forces behind the organization and the development of the Standards – was serving as the organization’s President. My recollection is that Jean “volunteered” me to perform those roles for Jackie and the organization.

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

I think most of the people who serve in student services want to make a positive difference in the lives of the students we serve. Involvement in MBA CSC permitted me to better help my students because of access to best practices ideas and contacts throughout the world. It also provided a feeling of making a difference for business schools throughout the United States, and to some degree internationally. I believe that by encouraging schools to be part of MBA CSC, and to adhere and promote the Standards, that we were improving the quality of information available to prospective students, current students, alumni, employers, accrediting agencies, and the media. One additional thing that deserves mention is the opportunity to develop friendships with others experiencing the same challenges you face. Many times there is no one, or only a few, at your own school that understand the scope of the challenges in front of you.

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

Without any question, the most significant accomplishment of MBA CSC has been the creation of the Standards for Reporting Employment Statistics. There are both similarities and differences between the schools that are members of the organization, but they have been able to agree on a set of Standards that have served us reasonably well. The promotion and implementation of the Standards has enabled the organization to achieve national and international recognition with leading business schools, professional organizations involved in graduate business education, and the business media.

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

When MBA CSC (at that time) first implemented the review of Agreed Upon Procedures (AUP), they were designed to be educational rather than punitive. While I have tremendous respect for what MBA CSEA has accomplished with the Standards, I fear that the Standards impact upon graduate management education will be diminished over time if a better reward system is not developed for those schools who commit the resources to dutifully adhere to them. Likewise, there needs to be observable consequences to those who do not as observed during AUPs. Without clear rewards and consequences, I fear schools will begin to believe that there is not much incentive to follow the Standards. I fear we may regress to the kind of “employment reports” that we experienced pre-Standards.

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