Social impact important to new head of Victoria Business School

A professor who helped the Melbourne Business School become an international leader in finding new ways to solve entrenched social problems is to be Victoria University of Wellington's new Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce of the Victoria Business School.

Ian Williamson, who will succeed current Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce Professor Bob Buckle when he retires next year, is the Helen Macpherson Smith Chair of Leadership for Social Impact at the Melbourne Business School, part of the University of Melbourne, and founder and Co-Director of the School’s Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre.

The Centre seeks to spark positive social change in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific region by collaborating with the non-profit, business, philanthropic and government sectors to solve problems stemming from poverty, poor health, inadequate education and discrimination.

Professor Williamson is also the Melbourne Business School’s Associate Dean of International Relations and Faculty Director of its flagship Executive MBA programme.

Victoria University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford, says Professor Williamson is a natural and inspiring leader. His strategic ability, values, ambition and commitment to excellence in research, teaching and public engagement are an excellent match for Victoria University.

“Professor Williamson has impressive international standing and experience and a remarkable track record in areas that will help Victoria fulfil its global-civic university aspirations for Wellington and the wider Asia-Pacific region. For example, through the Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre he has supported the development of more than 100 social enterprises in the Asia-Pacific and established an indigenous business masterclass programme. Furthermore, his leading work on ‘talent pipelines’ is directly relevant to our ambition to secure the intellectual potential put at risk through experience of disadvantage in Māori, Pasifika and other communities.

“At Victoria, Professor Williamson will carry on the outstanding work of Professor Buckle since he became Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean in 2008, ensuring the continued growth and evolution of the Victoria Business School as a capital city business school that embraces the important role it has to play in business, government, policymaking and society in New Zealand and beyond.”

Professor Williamson, who starts at Victoria in mid-2017, says: “It is a great honour to serve as the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Victoria Business School. The School’s commitment to business excellence, innovation in government and diversity is a great fit with my personal and professional values. I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students to develop cross-sector partnerships across the business, government and social sectors to support innovations in economic development in New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region.”

Professor Williamson is a recognised international expert in the area of human resource management. His research examines the impact of “talent pipelines” on organisational and community outcomes, with a particular emphasis on how human and social capital influences operational and financial outcomes in firms, talent management in the context of new ventures and growth-oriented firms, and the role of human resource practices in driving firm innovation.

His research has received several international awards and has been featured in leading media outlets around the world. He is in demand globally as a speaker at conferences and other forums. He also has extensive experience as a consultant, working with leading organisations in more than 20 countries, including Nestle, KiwiBank, Petronas, Louis Vuitton, PwC, Clemenger Group, ANZ and Fletcher Building.

Originally from the United States, Professor Williamson has substantial international teaching experience and is an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, in the US and Lorange Institute of Business Zurich in Switzerland.

Before moving to Australia in 2006 to teach at the Melbourne Business School, Professor Williamson taught at the University of Maryland in the US. He has a PhD in Organisational Behaviour from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BSc in Business Management–Organisational Behaviour from the Richard T Farmer School of Business at Miami University.