New business dean hopes to connect real world to curriculum


A D’Amore-McKim School of Business banner hanging on Dodge Hall. News Staff Photo/Matt Greene

Kaitlyn Budion

The new dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Raj Echambadi, said he plans to help students develop a holistic approach to better tackle real-world issues in the future.

“I hope to have a lot more dual degrees, a lot more opportunities for our students to go out and broaden their horizons in other colleges,” Echambadi said.

Echambadi, who started the position Aug. 14, said he thinks creating broader horizons for business students is the only way to prepare them to face the challenges of the modern era.

“My broader thing is, when you think about health care, when you think about cybersecurity, they cannot be solved just as a business problem,” he said. “You need a holistic perspective. That is what I’m hoping our students will have.”

Before coming to Northeastern, Echambadi was the senior associate dean for strategic innovations at the University of Illinois in Champaign. There, he trained students to become consultants for startups and created an online MBA program for the university. He said the online degree made master’s programs more available to students.

“We transformed education because it blurred the boundary between for-credit education and not-for-credit education,” Echambadi said. “But more importantly, it was available around the world.

Kate Klepper, the associate dean of graduate management programs in the business school, said she looks forward to working with Echambadi because he knows what he is doing and is bringing new ideas.

“I think he is really smart in this space,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for me and my team to learn from him and bring an outside perspective in. He comes from a very different place and a very different institution, but in the same part of graduate management space, so having another view into the world that we are so fully immersed in is really helpful.”

Klepper said her interactions with the dean so far have mostly been sharing information to decide what path they want to take going forward. She also said she thinks having a new leader will lead to positive changes for D’Amore-McKim.

“I think it is a challenging time for graduate management education, so having someone new at the head of the school who is familiar with that world and well-connected to other schools and other deans and other programs, I think it is a really great fit for us,,” she said. “People are eager to see what’s next.”

Mark Huselid, distinguished professor of workforce analytics, was the chair of the hiring committee for the dean position. He said dean positions are hard to hire for, because the dean has many responsibilities, but ultimately Echambadi was the best fit for D’Amore-McKim.

“It requires someone who has a really unique set of competencies, that Raj had,” Huselid said. “We had great candidates, but Raj is a very special guy.”

Huselid also said in the hiring process they were looking for someone who could help the business school change just as quickly and thoughtfully as the world is changing, something Echambadi talked about in his interview.

Huselid said Echambadi has been working hard since arriving to meet faculty and staff. Moving forward, Huselid said he hopes Echambadi will work to improve the business school and Northeastern as a whole.

“I think Northeastern in the last 10 years has changed very dramatically,” Huselid said. “We’ve really not only climbed in the rankings, but also have a much surer idea of who we are. I think building programs and competencies, communicating our vision — these are things that each of our deans is really working on.”

Echambadi said other than adjusting to the Boston traffic, the transition for him and his family has been smooth, and he looks forward to getting to work.

“The quality of people that I have met at Northeastern has just blown my mind,” Echambadi said. “The love they have for Northeastern, the passion they have for Northeastern is palpable, and so to me that means great things for us in the long run.”