Prof. Marianne Schmid Mast has just been elected as the next Dean by the Faculty Council of HEC Lausanne (UNIL) and confirmed in her functions by the direction of UNIL. An interview with the new Dean, who will take up her role in August 2021.
What motivated you to apply as Dean of the school?
I would like to contribute to the development and influence of our faculty and by the same token to that of the University of Lausanne as I am used to doing at the research level. As far as my scientific contribution is concerned, I have been named among the 50 most influential living psychologists in the world 3 years in a row. I was also named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association for extraordinary contributions to research. For some time now, I have begun to turn more towards applied research and the transfer of scientific knowledge to a wider audience. This is the logic behind my motivation to lead our faculty: to put the scientific skills and knowledge of our faculty at the service of the ecosystem that surrounds us, training tomorrow's decision-makers and collaborating with business, industry and politics to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of the future.
What benefits do you believe you will bring to the school in the role?
In addition to my experience in various leadership roles (for example, as president of the Swiss Psychological Society, chair of the Research Committee at the University of Neuchâtel, and chair of the Equal Opportunity Committee at the University of Neuchâtel and the University of Lausanne), I am aiming to continue along the same excellent path as the previous Dean, ensuring its continuity and pushing digitalization, diversity and sustainability further. At a personal level, I am someone who understands how to motivate people to come together to find solutions and create synergies in groups and projects. I am forward-looking and open to innovation and new technologies.
Can you tell us more about your plans and your short- and medium-term vision?
We are facing a great transition on the axes of digitalization, diversity and sustainability. In terms of digitalization, I want to develop a pedagogical platform for innovation in teaching and we need to incorporate data management in our research processes, in accordance with data protection legislation. With regard to diversity, we can make visible the diversity that already exists at HEC Lausanne and guarantee equal opportunities by introducing awareness of implicit biases and measures to support the next generation of academics. As far as sustainability is concerned, it will be further integrated into teaching and I intend to strengthen our laboratory of the future to help us in strategic foresight. I would like to awaken in all our interlocutors, partners and stakeholders a thirst for knowledge, an open-mindedness and confidence in solutions that are both realistic and ambitious.
What does HEC Lausanne represent to you?
HEC Lausanne is a top business school that deserves even more international visibility. At the same time, it’s a well-integrated and important faculty in a dynamic and diverse university. It is on this dual identity that we must build because each one enhances the other even more.
What are you most looking forward to about this new role?
Working with the Dean’s Office team but also with technical and administrative personnel (PAT) and with the various other groups of staff. A good internal cohesion and understanding is the strength that allows us to be ambitious in the quality of the training we offer to our students and in the collaborations with our local and international partners.
What are the biggest challenges you will face?
Incorporating the experiences we have had during the COVID period into post-COVID teaching – maintaining freedom and productivity in research, while observing statutory requirements around protecting research data – enhancing HEC Lausanne’s visibility and international reputation as a top business school - collaborate more with businesses and the economic and political fabric that surrounds us.
Will women be in the majority in your Dean’s Office?
My choices will be guided by the skills of the people because this is what corresponds most to my conviction and values: setting aside characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, etc. and judging someone based on their skills. However, it is important to have diversity represented at the Dean level.
The whole school congratulates Marianne Schmid Mast on her new role!
Brief profile of Marianne Schmid Mast