For Uvic busi­ness school dean Saul Klein, there's no con­tra­dic­tion be­tween do­ing well and do­ing good in the world

BC Business Magazine - - Contents - By Lucy Hys­lop

Gus­tavson School of Busi­ness dean Saul Klein

Saul Klein can’t help re­peat­ing him­self this lunchtime. Just into his sec­ond five-year term as dean of Uvic’s Peter B. Gus­tavson School of Busi­ness, he’s talk­ing about myr­iad in­ter­na­tional tenures over the past four decades and how they pro­pelled him to his cur­rent piv­otal role. Whether he calls it so­cial jus­tice, so­cial con­scious­ness or so­cial pur­pose, Klein is evan­gel­i­cal about in­still­ing that ethos in stu­dents and com­pa­nies.

He comes by his pas­sion for this “dif­fer­ent view of a busi­ness school” hon­estly. Soon af­ter Nel­son Man­dela was elected president of South Africa, Klein spent five years teach­ing busi­ness in Jo­han­nes­burg (“phenom­e­nally in­ter­est­ing place to be, al­though it bor­dered on an­ar­chy”) in the 1990s, fol­low­ing a two-year stint in “au­thor­i­tar­ian-con­trolled” Sin­ga­pore.

Then there were for­ma­tive years in his na­tive Rhode­sia, now Zim­babwe. “It was such a priv­i­leged life but also one that was screwy,” the 59-year-old re­calls of the trou­bled coun­try, which he left at 17 to study economics at He­brew Univer­sity of Jerusalem and avoid con­scrip­tion into its na­tional army. “I took away from it a broader sense of so­cial jus­tice cre­at­ing a so­ci­ety that has more op­por­tu­nity, that’s more equal, and that’s why Canada is such a great place to be.”

With its place in this so­cial pur­pose nar­ra­tive and its un­usual in­ter­na­tional lens, Uvic was a nat­u­ral fit for him to join as a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness in 2001, the Oak Bay res­i­dent ex­plains. (Com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age of 3 per cent, he notes proudly, the busi­ness school sends 80 per cent of its un­der­grad­u­ates to study abroad.) He and his Amer­i­can wife, Susie, a speech lan­guage pathol­o­gist whom he met at a con­fer­ence in Spain, also wanted to re­turn to North Amer­ica with their son, Zak, who now stud­ies po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Uvic. Klein has an MBA and a PHD in mar­ket­ing and in­ter­na­tional busi­ness from the Univer­sity of Toronto, and dur­ing the 1980s he taught busi­ness at Bos­ton’s North­east­ern Univer­sity and Wake For­est Univer­sity in North Carolina.

“We all want our grad­u­ates to be fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful, but that’s not the ul­ti­mate mea­sure of suc­cess,” he says be­tween bites of tuna salad at Yew Seafood + Bar at the Four Sea­sons ho­tel in down­town Van­cou­ver. Short-term profit max­i­miza­tion can lead to “un­de­sir­able so­cial con­se­quences” such as greater inequal­ity, which can be a breed­ing ground for pro­tec­tion­ism, he adds.

Klein sug­gests that B.C. busi­nesses need to guard against such lean­ings, cit­ing the cur­rent U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion and Bri­tain’s de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union. Di­ver­sity is the prov­ince’s strength, he avers. “B.C. is a trad­ing econ­omy— we’ve been a mag­net for mi­gra­tion, which has been a won­der­ful ad­van­tage,” Klein says. “It’s im­por­tant that we know how to op­er­ate in a global world—that we’re sell­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, deal­ing with di­verse mul­ti­cul­tural work­forces and a so­cial pur­pose around that global vi­sion. Busi­ness has to be part of the so­lu­tion.”

For Klein, part of the so­lu­tion in­cludes serv­ing on the board of the Na­tional Con­sor­tium for In­dige­nous Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment (Canada), where he says Uvic acts as a “neu­tral zone” to build con­nec­tions be­tween First Na­tions, busi­ness and govern­ment and helps with en­tre­pre­neur­ial train­ing in Haida Gwaii, among other ar­eas of the prov­ince. At the univer­sity—which made the Fi­nan­cial Times’ top 95 master of man­age­ment pro­grams in Septem­ber—he also launched the Gus­tavson Brand Trust In­dex. Published an­nu­ally since 2015, the in­dex can­vasses more than 6,500 Cana­dian con­sumers on how much they trust nearly 300 com­pa­nies, high­light­ing the im­por­tance of com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. “We’re try­ing to show that there doesn’t have to be a trade-off, that do­ing well and do­ing good are aligned,” Klein says.

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