Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meet the Professor: Diane O’Byrne

Diane O’Byrne joins the MBA team here at the School of Business as coordinator of the Kansas Impact Program, a year-long initiative that provides MBA students with team-based consulting experience by taking on some of the state's thorniest management issues.

Why did you decide to join the Kansas Impact Project (KIP)?

After meeting Dean Neeli and understanding her passion and vision for the project, I knew I wanted to be involved. Meeting MBA director Catherine Shenoy sealed the deal!

What is your philosophy on higher education and how does that tie into KIP?

My philosophy is that higher education should help students find their passions and paths in life.  It’s an opportunity to help students develop a sense of how they may impact the world with their intellects.   KIP is the ideal project for everyone involved!  It's a tremendous opportunity for the University of Kansas School of Business to give back to our community.  Our non-profit partners benefit from the bright and dedicated minds of our incoming MBA students who assist them in solving a challenge they are facing.  And what an opportunity it is for our students!  They are taking all the tremendous knowledge they are learning in their academic coursework and actually applying it to solve a significant issue.

What are your goals for KIP? 

My goals are simple: 1. To add depth to the skills and knowledge of our MBA students. 2.  To have a significant impact on the non-profits we serve in the state of Kansas.  3. To face head-on Chancellor Gray-Little's challenge of finding ways to serve our entire state.

What most uniquely qualifies you to run KIP?

My greatest passions are education, business and non-profit missions.  KIP combines the three perfectly.  I have been on the KU campus for more than 20 years, so my heart is in higher education.  I have been fortunate to sit on many non-profit boards through the years and continue to see the day-to-day challenges they face.  As an entrepreneur who has owned a business for over 20 years, I see the business applications to help our partners.

What do you think students value most about KIP?

I hope they value the immediate opportunities to immerse themselves in a challenge presented by a non-profit and have an impact on our Kansas community. Additionally, I hope they understand sound business solutions are applicable to the non-profit world.

What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments during your time at KU?

I am most proud of my students and the success they continue to find, whether it’s personal or professional.  I often receive a note, LinkedIn message, Facebook message or email from my former students and I love hearing about where they are now and the impact they are having helping others.  I ran into a student who is now a recruiter for a company attending our business career fair, who graduated in 2002.  When she saw me, she repeated a concept she had learned in my class all those years ago!  She said she regularly quotes me when helping others find the right career paths.  It just doesn't get any better than that; to know that my students truly learned and are still applying the knowledge and skills I taught them to help others.

What strengths and expertise will carry over from the journalism school and contribute to the business school?

I taught in the strategic communications track for the journalism school and those are skills I hope to bring to our business students.  No matter what your position is in the business world, the more effective you are at communicating, the more success you will enjoy.

What do you love most about being at KU?

For me, there is simply no greater reward than watching that light bulb go off in someone’s head.  The look on their face when a concept or idea we've discussed clicks in and they immediately see the application.

Even though I have taught at KU, I am still a "newbie" in the business school and I love how welcoming the MBA team has been as well as the other faculty members.

by Mackenzie Leander