Graduate School Announces Business Skills Program for Ph.D. Students in Partnership with UVA’s Darden School of Business

June 7, 2022



Princeton University Graduate School Announces Business Skills Program for Ph.D. Students in Partnership with UVA’s Darden School of Business

June 7, 2022– Princeton University

“Princeton graduate students are creating innovation across a diverse array of fields in ways that expand knowledge, accelerate discovery and serve humanity. The Graduate School’s GradFUTURES initiative is committed to preparing graduate students with the professional skills, business acumen, and leadership competencies they need to have a broad impact on society’s most pressing challenges– now and in the future.”

Rodney Priestley, Dean of the Graduate School, Princeton University

Princeton University’s Graduate School and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business are launching a partnership to ensure that Princeton’s graduate students gain the business acumen and skills needed to succeed in a wide range of future professions. This summer, the GradFUTURES® professional development initiative will offer a Business Skills for Ph.D.s in Academia & Beyond Learning Cohort in a first-of-its-kind academic and alumni partnership designed especially for Princeton graduate students.

The GradFUTURES professional development initiative at the Graduate School prepares graduate students with the competencies, connections, clarity, and confidence they need to thrive at Princeton and wherever their lives after graduation may take them. A robust ecosystem of campus partners, faculty, graduate alumni mentors, academic and industry partners, and graduate student leaders empowers graduate student futures through a broad spectrum of skills training, mentorship, bespoke experiential opportunities, and interdisciplinary learning. Among the most popular program offerings are the GradFUTURES Interdisciplinary Learning Cohorts. Each cohort brings graduate students together with alumni, faculty, post-docs, and industry experts to explore diverse professional pathways and societal, industry, or global trends. GradFUTURES’ interdisciplinary  learning cohorts build community among graduate students and reinforce each student’s graduate training and previous experiences to inform the cohort’s investigation of the topic. Graduate students in the cohorts read and discuss books, articles, and case studies and engage in reflection, group projects, and immersive experiences while building professional skills and knowledge together.

We are delighted to launch our newest learning cohort focused on business skills and this unique partnership with our graduate alumni and a well-respected business school such as Darden. Typically, most people associate the term ‘business’ with the private sector. However, business skills are essential to career progression in every sector –including academia. Labor market trends and feedback from Princeton graduate alumni indicate that acquiring critical business skills and knowledge widens the aperture of opportunity for all Ph.D.s. across all fields.” – Eva Kubu, Associate Dean for Professional Development and Director of GradFUTURES at Princeton University

With course content developed by faculty at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, this learning cohort will explore case studies from academia, government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations using a “business and society” approach to understand how individuals and organizations create socially responsible business practices and social impact. Among the skills and topics addressed by the cohort are strategy development, inclusive leadership, ethical decision-making, building and assessing value, communications and storytelling, innovation, and change management. As part of the partnership, the Darden School of Business will provide Princeton’s Graduate School with sample facilitator guides and access to case studies, recommended readings, and videos available on Princeton’s Canvas learning management system.

“Darden is pleased to leverage our faculty’s expertise in creating meaningful educational experiences for all learners. This partnership allows us to leverage the experience we gained in working with UVA’s doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars. Darden is committed to sharing our teaching materials through Darden Business Publishing which makes this partnership a natural fit.” – Maureen Wellen, Executive Director, Faculty Advancement, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Sonali Majumdar, Princeton’s assistant dean for professional development, will moderate the learning cohort, having managed a similar course for the Ph.D. Plus program at UVA prior to joining the GradFUTURES team at the Graduate School in May of 2022. Kubu said, “Sonali began her new role and immediately helped us establish the partnership with Darden. She has extensive experience designing skill-based learning programs for Ph.D.s and building academic and industry partnerships.”

Members of Princeton University’s graduate alumni community serve an integral role in the Graduate School’s GradFUTURES professional development programming, serving as speakers, panelists, and mentors for current graduate students. In addition to moderator Sonali Majumdar, the primary facilitator for the inaugural Business Skills in Academia & Beyond Learning Cohort discussions will be Princeton graduate alumnus Jim Scully, who earned a Ph.D. in Economics in 2003 and has extensive experience as a strategy consultant. Jim is a Managing Director in Accenture Strategy and the Lead for Accenture's North America Development Programs. Jim is based out of the New York City office, and within Accenture Strategy is focused on Consumer Goods and Services. Jim has worked with clients to develop corporate and business unit strategies, establish and execute commercial and operational initiatives, and identify key competencies, resources, and criteria necessary to ensure sustainable, measurable impact. He also has experience in M&A/L&A strategy, divestiture strategy, due diligence, and competitive intelligence.

Ph.D.s become experts in one specific discipline and analyze problems through that lens. Understanding business skills and frameworks will not only broaden their thinking but can also broaden their professional horizons.” – Jim Scully *03, ECO, Managing Director in Accenture Strategy

Over the years, Jim Scully has been a featured speaker at many professional development programs at Princeton and frequently shares his insights, advice, and expertise with current graduate students. In his presentations and talks, Jim focuses on helping graduate students gain a greater understanding of career options for Ph.D.s and the skills and competencies needed to provide onramps to opportunities in diverse industries. In April of this year, he presented Be a Business Savvy Ph.D.: Skills Ph.D.s need in the Academy and Beyond at the GradFUTURES Forum, an annual conference hosted by the Graduate School, which attracts more than 3,600 participants from the Princeton graduate community as well as graduate institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Plans also include inviting Princeton faculty, administrators, and other graduate alumni to serve as guest speakers throughout the summer. For example, David Miller, director of Princeton’s Faith & Work Initiative, will lead a session on basic ethical theories and developing practical tools for personal and applied ethics in any organizational setting, including academia, business, entrepreneurship, and broader marketplace contexts. David brings an unusual “bilingual” perspective to the classroom and the boardroom. Before receiving his Ph.D. in ethics and joining the faculty at Princeton University, he spent 16 years in senior executive positions in international business and finance, including eight years in London.

The Business Skills for Ph.D.s in Academia & Beyond Learning Cohort at Princeton University’s Graduate School will begin June 9 and continue through August 25. Ten unique sessions will be offered, and graduate students are encouraged to attend all sessions. Princeton graduate students will be eligible to receive a co-curricular certificate of completion and a Business Skills for Ph.D.s badge on LinkedIn. For more information, please visit the "Business Skills for Ph.D.s in Academia and Beyond" page on the GradFUTURES website.

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Princeton University Office of Communications Mike Hotchkiss

Director of Media Relations 609-258-9522

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