Leadership Corner: Vance Roley
Interviewed by Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
Name: Vance Roley
Title: Dean and First Hawaiian Bank Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Management
Organization: College of Business Administration, University of Hawai'i-Manoa
High school: Fort Vancouver High School, Vancouver, Wash.
College: Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and statistics, University of California at Berkeley; Master of Arts and Ph.D. in economics, Harvard University
Little-known fact: Roley is a huge sports fan. He especially loves baseball and, having grown up in the Northwest, roots for the Seattle Mariners.
Major challenge: "The major challenge is to generate enough resources so that the quality of the College of Business will continue to improve," he said. "We need to invest in our academic programs and in our faculty and staff."
Book reading now: Roley just finished "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't" by Jim Collins.
Favorite pastime: Every morning Roley runs about three miles. On Sundays he does a longer run. "It just feels good," he said.
Mentor: Yash Gupta, former dean at the University of Washington Business School, who initiated big changes to the college. "He taught me that you just don't accept status quo, you look for ways to improve and you always involve people," Roley said. "He was a very honest person. Integrity was important to him."
Q. What made you decide to leave the University of Washington, where you were serving as acting dean, to take this job at UH?
A. Two main factors were responsible for my decision. First, the College of Business (at UH) has a strong international reputation and the potential to improve. Second, my family and I have always enjoyed Hawai'i.
Q. Where do you see the most potential for improvement?
A. The most potential is in the area of international business. Fortunately, this is the area that has been emphasized in the CBA for some time. We are fortunate in that both our undergraduate and graduate programs are ranked in the U.S. News and World Report (10th and 20th, respectively). We should be able to use this recognition to expand our executive programs, again emphasizing our strength in the Asia-Pacific region.
Q. What's the potential of China's growing economy for Hawai'i?
A. As the GDP increases, assuming the visa problems are solved, tourism (from China) will increase dramatically. And this would seem like a natural stop for them. In addition, I assume that will open up some business opportunities for businesses in Hawai'i to work more with businesses in China. They're becoming the manufacturer of the world now, so the opportunities are going to be large. Most business schools are over in China right now because they recognize the potential of the Chinese market. ... There's going to be a huge demand for management training and that's where I hope we can help fill that need.
Q. What do you hope to bring to this program?
A. I hope our research focus increases more. I think research is really valuable. First of all, it creates knowledge and, second, it's a way for our faculty to invest in themselves, keeps them on the cutting edge, gets them in the field and then they can bring that research and knowledge into the classroom. ... This is a state institution and most state institutions need resources. This is definitely no exception. Business schools typically generate resources on their own, and we're going to have to think of ways of doing that.
Q. What are your plans for increasing resources for the college?
A. We'll have to do it through revenue-generating programs like degree and executive programs. The idea is trying to make things as close to self-sustaining as possible at the graduate level, not the undergraduate level. Also, we need to raise money for faculty endowment support. We only have four or five chairs here in the College of Business that's out of a
tenure-track faculty of 50. At Washington, we really increased endowment support of our faculty. We had 49 endowed positions out of 79 tenure-track positions. Last year was the first year in 20 years we didn't lose somebody on our faculty to a competing institution.
Q. Is faculty retention particularly challenging here?
A. It's universal. In my first 2 1/2 weeks, I haven't heard anybody looking for a job. (laughs) But you never know. This is right in the middle of faculty recruiting season. ... There are some schools that can pay significantly more than we can pay here, even potential double. Retention at Washington was a huge problem until recently. I don't think it's a huge problem here, but it is a problem. This is a very expensive place to live, so that also hurts. On the other hand, it's an incredibly great place to live, so you have to make some trade-offs.
Q. What, in your opinion, are must-have qualities in a leader?
A. I think it is very important to hire good people and then listen to their advice. Integrity is also crucially important, and it must be demanded throughout the organization.
Q. What is your advice to recent college graduates?
A. Use your education to the fullest ... There is no substitute for hard work and integrity. Treat others with respect.