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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis business major booms

Published: September 7, 2012
Section: Features

As the newly established business major continues to attract a wealth of undergraduate students, Edward Bayone, chair of the program, had an unusual progression in the world of business, rising from a childhood in the projects to an executive career laden with international travel.

Originally stemming from the Lower East Side of New York, Bayone spent his childhood years dwelling in the city’s housing projects. In his youth, he recalls the mentality that “the only way out of the housing projects was education, and that’s what we were taught, and that really formed who I am.”

Seeking to pursue a career as a high school social studies teacher, Bayone witnessed the tumultuous nature of employment rates in such a heavily populated city, as approximately 10,000 teaching positions were eliminated due to bankruptcy issues following his graduation from university. He continued on to study history with the aspiration to become a college professor, but faced similar issues as the job market remained plagued with layoffs.

Rather than dwelling on the apparent demise of his teaching dreams, Bayone continued on to obtain a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, specializing in banking and finance. Despite his previous hardships seeking employment, he received six job offers post graduation, leading to a career spanning 23 years with the same company and promotion to executive of the banking industry.

He recalls “probably half of my career was involved in international work, and I just loved it.” During this time period, Bayone spent approximately five years living in Germany, and in subsequent years traveled to regions in Asia and Latin America such as Argentina and Brazil. Although his banking career permitted him to travel across the globe, Bayone traces his involvement in the Brandeis community to his appearance as guest lecturer in 2000.

Originally teaching a class that met once a week, the dean soon approached Bayone to become a full time professor at Brandeis. Describing the moment, he states “I thought that was incredible, to live out my dream of being a teacher. I’ve never looked back; It’s been an amazing experience here.” He cites the “great student body, commitment to social justice, and very nurturing environment” as the qualities which drew him to remain at Brandeis.

As chair of the undergraduate program for business, Bayone played a crucial role in the establishment of a business major in 2010, a feat which he claims served the purpose of not only “meeting a need in the market but providing students with a first class educational experience.” On a regular basis, Bayone is responsible for both strategic and tactical work, meeting with professors to discuss methods to improve the discipline by making it more exciting and accessible to students.

Although Brandeis is traditionally a liberal arts university, Bayone explains the rationality behind the creation of a business major. He states “very few students who single mindedly at age 17 or 18 know they want business choose Brandeis; if at 17 you know you want business, your guidance counselors will direct you to very fine schools that live and breathe business.” Rather, he attributes distinct qualities to those who attend Brandeis University, stating these diverse individuals “want a place that will challenge them intellectually. If they study business, they will want to understand how it fits into a larger context.”

Bayone stresses the significance of enhancing a liberal arts education with business knowledge rather than solely focusing on the business major itself, claiming “business doesn’t stand by itself; rather business and society are thoroughly interwoven.” Students who participate in the program are required to enroll in two or three business and society courses, which are offered throughout the rest of the academy, such as classes titled Science on Trial, and Political Economy of the Third World.

When questioned as to his aspirations for the program in the future, Bayone expressed his desire to further the integration of business studies along with diverse programs across the university. Deriving inspiration from a quote from Raba in the Talmud, which states “The first question a person is asked at Judgment after death is ‘Did you deal in good faith in your business?” Bayone seeks to create a course which reflects on the ethics behind faith systems and how they pertain to business ideals.

For students exploring the possibility of becoming involved in the business program, Bayone refers to the course BUS10a Functions of a Capitalist Society, which he states “immerses students in a very difficult and rich business case environment.” In addition to serving as chair of the undergraduate business program, he also teaches two of the sections for the class. He claims students “students emerge excited to pursue their individual fields,” whether it be marketing, real estate, entrepreneurship, or countless other disciplines.

Regarding student success stories within the program, graduates are able to obtain employment within diverse fields. Karen Hu ’12, a business and economics major, currently works at Hill Holiday, an advertising agency situated in Boston. Referencing the experiences that allowed her to become a top job candidate, Hu acknowledges her position as UDR for the program, involvement in valuable internships, and her interactions with Hiatt Career Center. Describing her experience organizing events around campus, such as Culture X and Lunar New Year, she states, “This taught me not only how to be a leader but also how to work with others as a team in order to achieve a shared vision.” Beyond the field of advertising, other graduates continue on to fields such as sales or finance as well as law school.

Before the creation of the business major, students interested in the business sector gravitated towards the Economics major. According to the US News and World Report profile of Brandeis, economics is still the most popular major, with 11 percent of undergraduates majoring in it.

Even though the International Business School (IBS) was founded in 1994, the undergraduate business major was introduced only in 2010, and since then it has become a popular choice for students.

Business UDR Daniella Kohlhagen ’13 said that the business major provides education that is more relevant to the changing business world than the mainly theory-based economics major. After taking the required introductory Economics and Financial Accounting courses, students can explore areas including marketing research, entrepreneurship, finance or even an interdisciplinary Investing and Energy class. Many of these classes include IBS masters students.
Often students find that the combined five-year B.A./M.A. business program offered through IBS gives them an advantage. Brandeis students can apply to IBS as early as sophomore year, without taking graduate school admissions tests, according to Holly Chase, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at IBS. Once accepted into the program, it only takes students one extra year of post-collegiate study to earn a masters degree, which saves money, Chase said. Twenty-three Brandeis seniors are currently in the program, and that number is predicted to increase in the coming years.

Classes in other social science departments also count as electives towards the business major, such as Social or Organizational Psychology and Anthropology classes that focus on production and consumption. Kohlhagen says her classes in politics and IGS, her second major and minor, also counted towards the business major.

Business UDR Jared Goldman ’13 believes that the combination of business and liberal arts will make students more desirable. “Interviewers are looking to connect on a personal level, too. Business prepares you for a job, but liberal arts prepares you for the conversations,” Goldman said.

“In the coming years I hope the university will allow the business department to continue to grow to its full capacity, by allocating more resources to create classes within each specialty,” Goldman said.

As chair of the program, Bayone stresses the significance of encouraging students to explore business in correlation with diverse fields of study. In regards to the recent birth and rising popularity of the program, he proclaims “that has been a fabulous journey, a great success.”