Len Lodish’s 45-year career has helped shape the face of the Wharton School. We ask him to reflect upon it now that he has announced his retirement.
Innovation. Global presence. Social impact. These are Wharton’s three strategic pillars. They also describe the career of Leonard Lodish, the Samuel R. Harrell Professor and co-founder of the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum (GCP).
Lodish joined the Wharton faculty as an assistant marketing professor in 1968, after completing his Ph.D. at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Ten years later—after being promoted to professor of marketing—Lodish was inspired to create the GCP, a cross-functional course that pairs Wharton MBA students with students from international partner institutions. The teams consult for organizations—both nonprofit and for-profit—that wish to leverage a relationship between the partner country and North America.
“This was a way to efficiently create much global value while helping our students to learn to be trusted advisors; work efficiently in global teams; and put to practical use the concepts, methods and paradigms from their Wharton classes,” explains Lodish.
In 1997, Lodish initiated, developed and began teaching Wharton’s Entrepreneurial Marketing course for MBA students, addressing the increased number of students focused on entrepreneurship at Wharton. It is through this course that Lodish began working with the likes of the founders of Diapers.com and Milo.com.
“That’s what I spend a lot of my time with now—startups,” Lodish says. “I love that.”
Lodish was instrumental in expanding the number of future entrepreneurs who can attend Wharton through his role in the creation of Wharton | San Francisco. He served as the inaugural vice dean from 2001 to 2009.
“Our biggest challenge was to create a program that all the stakeholders felt was extremely valuable—not just the students who enrolled, but their sponsoring companies or other firms who might hire our graduates, our 8,000 West Coast alumni and the faculty who flew to teach in San Francisco every weekend,” he recalls.
Today, the Wharton | San Francisco community numbers more than 1,000 and is plugged into the Bay Area’s flourishing tech industry.
When Lodish returned to Philadelphia in 2009, he took the lead on another initiative that changed the Wharton landscape: social impact. Under Lodish’s guidance as founding dean, the Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII ) has encouraged students to evaluate the importance of the social sphere in their future careers—by expanding the number of social impact internships to creating courses such as the successful finance class, Impact Investing.
“We have a lot of CEO s that come to Wharton … and every time I talk to any of these people, they tell me how much time they’re spending on social impact-related [issues],” Lodish says.
Lodish has recently handed the WSII reins to new Vice Dean Katherine Klein, the Edward H. Bowman Professor of Management.
As he reflects on his career, Lodish is particularly proud of his work with the GCP—and of his research in entrepreneurial marketing, strategic and tactical marketing resource planning, and marketing decision support systems.
“I think we really had an impact on the way managers think about marketing and helped create a lot of value. Creating value is how I get my work satisfaction,” he says.
Lodish will have more opportunity to create value. Though officially retiring, he will continue as GCP co-lead and as a student mentor and faculty adviser for the Venture Initiation Program in San Francisco.
—By Amanda D’Amico