#HumansOfSmith - Dean Konana
With the start of a new semester, SUSA would like to formally introduce Dean Konana to the Smith community. If you haven’t had a chance to meet the Smith School’s newest dean, follow the interview below to get to know Dean Konana better!
Q&A with Dean Konana
1. Where did you grow up and how did that contribute to who you are as a person?
I grew up in many small towns in the state of Karnataka in India as my father used to be transferred every three years. It helped me make lots of new friends with very different cultures (each place had its own culture with a variant of my mother tongue).
2. What were your dreams as a child (Professional and/or Personal) and how have they changed over time?
Like most kids in India, I wanted to play cricket for India until it became a futile dream. I was enamored by police and their power until 12th grade. But like most middle-class families, I was asked to study hard to become an engineer or a doctor. I chose to become an engineer because my brother was doing medical. Nothing was planned but just followed the usual path like most kids around me.
3. What drew you to UMD?
The University of Maryland is a well-known university in the world. My first professor who taught me in the U.S at the University of Arizona is currently in the Smith School. Both the faculty who admitted me to the PhD program and my first advisor in the PhD program are graduates of the Smith School of Business! I learned upon becoming dean that UMD briefly had trouble creating an email address for me because my name was in the system from 1989 when I applied to Master’s program from India!
4. What would you like students to know about you and your priorities as the Dean of the Business School?
Reputation for excellence. Excellence in every touch point. Life-changing impact on our students.
Those govern my beliefs and those are my priorities. Excellence in teaching, research and outreach impact businesses, students, and broader society. When we do that well our reputation goes up. Every student wants to have the best outcome for their career. Which means we must provide every opportunity for career development. That requires us to deeply connect with industry and alumni. They provide mentorship, experiential learning, internships, and full-time opportunities. If one wants to be an entrepreneur, we provide mentoring to launch their ideas possibly with some seed money. I am deeply committed to make all these happen.
5. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as an undergraduate student, what would you say?
I would advise myself of many things: to pursue an economics degree and not engineering; do something to help the community rather than just studying and playing cricket/table tennis; and most importantly, challenge social norms without fear. Growing up we were taught obedience at the expense of inquisitiveness and follow the social norms to avoid criticisms.
6. What is one thing or aspect of your life that brings you joy?
Making a difference on those who need the most!
7. What is your favorite quote or message and why?
My favorite is “Don’t be too humble you aren’t that great.” When Steve Jobs comes in a turtleneck and jeans to a meeting, people will say “wow! He is so rich and successful yet so humble.” However, if you wear jeans to a business meeting, you may be thrown out! This quote is from Golda Meir who was the Prime Minister of Israel in 1960.
People make impressions about your actions and worthiness depending on your status/wealth and thus until you do become great, it is okay to establish yourself than trying to be too humble. If you are too humble without establishing yourself, some may interpret that as a weakness and lack of confidence. Today, if you want a leadership position many look for some level of assertiveness and confidence. It is sad but a reality.
8. Is there anything on your bucket list that you’re excited to one day check off?
There are many that have eroded over time. There is nothing that I deeply crave for. But I want to get back and be more active with our non-profit Pragathi.org. I haven’t been much engaged with my dean roles now and earlier. That should be an ongoing work rather than bucket list item.
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- Melanie Rojas, SUSA Project Manager, Marketing Committee