Lynne Segall joined Goizueta Business School in 2015 as the Associate Dean for Goizueta IMPACT, the experiential learning program in which student teams provide consulting services to a real-life client. Her first year comes to a conclusion on a high note: the inaugural Goizueta Client Day was a huge success with noteworthy participation from Goizueta faculty, staff, and alumni. Professor Segall took some time to talk with Business Librarian Saira Raza.
Goizueta Business Library: You just finished your first year in this new role. What are some of the highlights that stand out to you?
Lynne Segall: One of the most meaningful things happened last week. An alumni that I know called me to rave about the students and the work that they did for her company. She said 1) they understood our business, 2) they spoke our language, 3) they brought us fresh perspective and saw our business in a different way than how we see it, and 4) their communication was unbelievable. And that is what is Goizueta IMPACT is really about. It was such a highlight to hear this playback to me from someone who hasn’t been part of the vision and hasn’t been part of what we’re trying to do here. She just experienced it firsthand as a client. And that was very powerful because when the students are in the middle of it they don’t always recognize the value of what they’re accomplishing until after the fact. It’s kind of a rearview mirror on the experience. And her endorsement of what this program is all about, what we’re doing, and what our students are capable of was just so rewarding.
GBL: You are also an alumni of the MBA program. During your career in consulting, what lessons from your Goizueta experience stayed with you the most?
LS: I think one of the lessons that I learned here that stayed with through my career at Accenture and that’s come home to roost since I’ve been back is the importance of relationships and networks. I’ve tried to help fellow alumni over the years get jobs at Accenture or connect them within my network. But what has been so rewarding has been seeing my classmates come back to support me in this role. They’ve come back as volunteers for my final exam called Day One Challenge, in which students have to solve a case in four hours and then present it to a panel of faculty and alumni judges. I graduated 17 years ago, and I had 10 alumni from my class here in December, and I had 10 alumni from my class at Client Day last week. It’s such an important lesson about the power and importance of relationships.
GBL: In what ways has Goizueta changed since you graduated and is there anything that you’re happy to see hasn’t changed at all?
LS: I’ll start with hasn’t changed and I’m happy about this. What hasn’t changed is the culture. We still have students who come to Goizueta because they want a complete MBA experience, not just a degree. They engage and get involved in important, meaningful ways to help make the school a better place for future generations. That was the case and certainly the reason why I chose to come here as a student. I am thrilled to see that the culture is still very much alive and well.
The biggest thing that has changed is the curriculum and recruiting. I am just astounded by what students are required to know and be able to do within two months of getting here. They are already interviewing for summer internships that early. When I was a student here, we had the whole semester and part of the second semester to get our business school feet grounding, but they just don’t have that luxury anymore. The curriculum changed in response to that business reality. I see our students being very successful in recruiting largely because of our curriculum and the way that it’s designed so that they get all of their core content in the first semester. The challenge is that it’s a very intense first semester. I think it helps our students in recruiting, but it doesn’t give them a lot of time to absorb everything that we’re throwing at them. They seem to do a great job despite the structural challenges of what we’re putting them through.
GBL: Most meeting that I’ve attended with you, you usually have a really great story about your kids and how you help them solve problems in their lives with some strategies from your Goizueta IMPACT course. Do you have any recent stories that you can share with us?
LS: My eight year old loves playing dodge ball at school. She came home about a month ago pretty frustrated. I didn’t know what the problem was, but she had a solution. Her solution was that they needed to have girls only dodge ball on some days. I said, “Oh, that’s interesting, why is that?” And she had all these reasons: the boys are better and they can throw the ball harder, they always pick other boys first so the girls are always the last to get picked, and that makes some girls not want to play. I asked her if she had thought about proposing her idea, but she hadn’t because she didn’t think anyone would listen to her. We talked about what evidence she might need and what research she might do to answer the key question: Should there be girls-only dodgeball? And she said, “I can track how many times the girls get picked first.” She goes to Montessori School where they do research all the time as part of the curriculum, so I told her she should look into Title IX. She hasn’t actually acted on it, but that’s my most recent example of MP at home. I want her to do an issue tree, but I’m not forcing it on her just yet.
GBL: I remember you saying that you have a background in acting. What attracted you to business school and a career in consulting? Are you still active as an actor and in the arts in general?
LS: In high school, I was both an actor and a dancer. When I went to college, I still did a little bit of both, but not seriously because I think I had this pragmatism drilled into me by my mother (like, “what are you actually going to do with that liberal arts degree once you graduate?”). So I never pursued it, and I came to business school. Then I was at a work meeting in 2000, and we went around the table for a teambuilding thing, and everyone had to say if they could parachute into any career and be successful, what would it be? Mine was that I would be an actress. I got kind of sad that night because everyone talked with such passion about what they would parachute into, and I thought about how we find ourselves in these paths. Do we take a path for reasons outside of our own? I never thought I was super talented as an actress, and I never thought it was a viable career for me, so I didn’t pursue it even though it was something I love doing. But I realized I could take classes. And there’s nothing to stop me from doing this as a hobby and for fun. I started taking classes, and I took classes for a couple of years before I got up the nerve to audition for anything. And then it took several auditions before I was ever cast in anything. And in the end, I think I was in seven community theater productions and one professional theater production before I had children. Now since I’ve had kids it’s on the backburner. But I did the same thing with dancing too. I started taking international Latin ballroom dancing lessons, and before I had kids I also competed ProAm in that. So I’ve started thinking about dance a little more – maybe I need to start taking dance classes again. The way I get arts in my life right now is I’m on the board of the Horizon Theater, so I’m applying my business acumen to the arts in a different way.
GBL: What is your favorite business book and why?
LS: This is totally old school, but I think Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (by Stephen Covey) probably had the biggest impact on me. It was big in the ‘90s when I was just starting my career. I worked for several organizations that had bought into Covey’s philosophy, so it shaped my early career. That’s probably been the most formative business book.
GBL: What are three words that come to mind when you think of the business library?
LS: The first word that comes to mind is partner or partnership. The business librarians are such important partners for me and for Goizueta IMPACT.
The second word that comes to mind, it’s more of a concept, this amazing channel to information.
The third word that comes to mind is invaluable.