Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2022 year in review.
He’s fluent in Hebrew and fond of gangster movies and books that make him cry.
He’s a finance professor by trade and recently started his new post at Arizona State University as dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business.
Meet Ohad Kadan.
After an intense national search, Kadan left his position as the vice dean for education and globalization and the H. Frederick Hagemann Jr. Professor of Finance at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis to report for work in Tempe on July 1.
Since then, he’s hit the ground running. Kadan has been holding planning sessions with faculty and key personnel, finding new ways for innovation, setting long- and short-term goals, and adjusting from a private school setting to a public university.
ASU News spoke to Kadan a few weeks into his tenure. Here’s what he had to say about his new and unfolding adventure.
Question: What resonated about the W. P. Carey School and Arizona State University while pursuing this position?
Answer: There are several aspects of the school that attracted me. The first is that the city of Phoenix and the metro area is a thriving region. It’s the fifth-largest city in the United States, and it's growing fast, with both migration of individuals and corporations moving in. I think that’s important for a business school or university. So I see a lot of opportunities just being in the metro Phoenix area.
The second issue that attracted me was the school itself, particularly the faculty and staff. We know the faculty at W. P. Carey has a strong reputation in teaching and research. That’s an attractive point in joining this phenomenal group and its already great programs, both undergraduate and graduate. ASU is also well-known for innovation, and W. P. Carey has been offering innovative programs and leading online education. I view myself as an academic entrepreneur and felt that this would be a suitable ecosystem for me in terms of adding or contributing to that innovative approach here at ASU and W. P. Carey. All this together attracted me to the school.
Q: Before joining W. P. Carey earlier this month, you had been at Washington University in St. Louis since 2002, starting as an assistant professor and becoming a full professor while moving through roles such as academic director of the Global Master of Finance program, finance chair and vice dean for education and globalization. How has that trajectory influenced the way you think about leading at the W. P. Carey School?
A: First is the importance of collaboration and working with the faculty and staff. That has been a staple of my work as a leader and administrator. You can’t do it all alone; it must be teamwork. And that's something that I've learned along the way. The second thing I learned was the importance of strategic planning. I couldn’t take my position and say, “Let's do that or do something else.” I had to plan. Planning is not something I could do on my own. It had to be assured by faculty, students, staff members, alumni, the business community and the university leadership, all contributing to this plan of what is and who is W. P. Carey? What are we about at the business school? Who do we want to become? Where are we heading? We were doing this well at the Olin Business School.
I’m carrying it with me to W. P. Carey – the idea that you need to plan strategically, think long-term about where you want to be five and 10 years from now, and work together to develop and execute the plan. And it can’t be an amorphous plan. It must have measurable goals. It must have a timeline. It must have champions who are responsible for execution. It must be a tangible plan. That's what we are doing here right now.
Q: Can you tell us about your research expertise?
A: I'm a finance professor. I've been a finance professor my entire career, starting as an assistant professor at Washington University and advancing through the ranks. Over the 20 years I spent at Washington University, I researched different areas of finance. First, I started studying the structure of financial markets, then focused more on financial decisions at the corporate level. More recently, I've focused on pricing and asset management questions. I've also focused on the information you can elicit from the prices of options and derivatives and on the implications of diversity, equity and inclusion on investment decisions.
Q: Are there areas of W. P. Carey that you consider “hidden strengths” and will try to highlight?
A: I think a few areas we could develop are executive education, continuing education, lifelong learning and engagement with businesses and the community. These are areas I wouldn’t call “hidden strengths.” They just haven’t been as developed as they should. So those are areas I'm particularly interested in and will work to develop further.
Q: You started the transition early, attending several school events in the spring, leading strategic planning sessions and gaining an understanding of the ASU system. Can you give us examples of crucial decisions you made in those early days?
A: The first critical decision was to launch a strategic planning process that looks five to 10 years ahead and asks, “Where are we going to be?” Creating a strategic plan sounds obvious, but it's not apparent to everybody. We are now pausing and thinking long-term and working together to plan and reach out to all our stakeholders and ask them, “What do you think? What is your feedback? What are your ideas?” Collecting all this information into a strategic plan was my first major decision. I made this decision early after being named dean because I couldn't do it any other way.
The second important decision that became clear as part of the strategic planning process was the need to emphasize executive education, continuing education and lifelong learning here at W. P. Carey. I created a new unit around those areas in collaboration with the then-interim dean, Amy Ostrom, and appointed Raghu Santanam, senior associate dean for executive education, corporate partnerships and lifelong learning, to jumpstart the process. I wanted this to begin even before I came to Tempe. Creating this unit was a significant decision I made early on.
Q: What else do you want our community to know about what the future holds for the W. P. Carey School?
A: Our vision focuses on access, excellence and innovation in business knowledge. It’s who we already are, but we will emphasize it more. Access to education is critical. We are here to provide education to those who need education. Education is not a luxury. It opens doors and creates opportunities, and we are here to provide that. That's essential, and it's not any education. It's excellent education. It must be top-notch education. We need to attract top-notch faculty and amazing students so that we will deliver not only on access but also on excellence. Finally, how do we offer all of that? Through innovation. We innovate, and we teach innovation, but we also practice innovation in everything we do. That's part of the ASU identity. I should say that we will also engage with everybody around us. We will engage with businesses, the community and all of ASU. We are going to be team players here on campus. We take the ASU Charter very seriously, which says that we need to contribute and be committed and inclusive.
Q: You mentioned that your wife, Dafna, would help in your role at W. P. Carey. What will this look like?
A: Dafna's a very social person, so I expect her to participate in many W. P. Carey events, including fundraising and other activities. She’s looking forward to participating and interacting with the entire community, whether within W. P. Carey at the university or in the community at large. She's also looking forward to moving to Phoenix and sharing this experience with me.
Q: You’ve had a whirlwind year following the selection process and moving to Arizona from Missouri. How do you spend your time when life isn’t so busy?
A: Life is busy, and I like to spend my time with family to the extent I can. They're my priority in life. I have three children: my oldest is 24, my middle child is 21 and my youngest is 17, who is still living with us. I dedicate as much time to my family as possible, given my many obligations and commitments. In terms of leisure time, we like hiking.
Q: Now for some fun stuff. Favorite Phoenix area restaurant?
A: An Israeli restaurant in Scottsdale called Fata Morgana. My wife is a foodie, and she has a list of Phoenix restaurants she wants us to attend already!
Q: Favorite or most recent book you’ve read?
A: I recently read "The Kite Runner" and felt emotionally affected by it.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: I love the cinema, and there are so many great movies. But I’m a big fan of "The Godfather" saga.
Q: Best business advice you've ever received?
A: To listen. When you are in a meeting, spend 80% of your time listening and 20% talking. Leaders want to speak rather than listen, and I think that’s a mistake. I need to listen and hear, not just hear what people are saying. So listening is an essential skill in business.
Q: Favorite professor or teacher who had an impact on you?
A: I’ve had many, but I would like to highlight my alma mater, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which taught me to be rigorous in everything I do in my research and teaching. That was very influential on my career.
Q: Best advice for prospective ASU students?
A: I have the same advice for prospective students and graduates: Don’t be afraid to take chances or get a "no.” There’s a saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” I got many "nos" in my career. So, if you are a student, ask the question. Don't be shy or get discouraged. If you are a graduate, apply for a job. If you don't take your chances, you won’t get anywhere.
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