School of Business and Leadership

Loving leadership

Rhee has expertise in leadership, teamwork, emotional intelligence, and self-directed change.

"I love studying and teaching leadership, since leaders make differences and impact many people."

Great leaders don't set out to become a program leader or a dean, he says. "Being a leader is not about you. It's all about helping other people realize their potential. The type of people I've seen who seek out leadership opportunities tend to be self-centered, which is not effective leadership."

It's OK to switch gears

Rhee first pursued degrees in chemistry because he was always good at science and was told he could make good money as a chemist. After getting his master's degree in chemistry, he worked as a chemist for a few years at a pharmaceutical company and at a contact lens company, but he found he didn't like focusing on chemistry full-time.

It can be hard to shift your focus, but sometimes you have to be adaptable. "It's a good lesson for my students: Follow your passion."

Why Naz?

Rhee was attracted to Nazareth's person-centered approach.

"Nazareth's School of Business and Leadership (SBL) faculty and staff care about our students and help our students — and all of our stakeholders — realize their full potential. If students are looking for a safe environment to learn and grow as leaders, there won't be a better place than Nazareth SBL."

If you talk to companies that hire business school graduates, they don't want employees who lack perspective and wider knowledge, such as accountants who only know accounting. Across many types of jobs, employers need team players who can also create a good presentation and who have empathy.

"If you can combine business, technology and liberal arts [as Nazareth offers for business degrees], I think that's the perfect combination. We have a tremendous advantage."

Rhee is focusing on growing Nazareth's School of Business and Leadership by developing new programs and identifying opportunities where Nazareth can better stand out to the target market.

Women power

Since Nazareth has more female than male students, Rhee sees an opportunity to build programs in which women can develop their leadership abilities and self-confidence.

"There aren't too many women leaders in Fortune 500 corporations, but I think that trend is going to change. Women are more than 50% of the workforce."

As Rhee told Nazareth's Connections magazine, his strategy fits with his plan for all students: to teach them how to adapt in a changing marketplace — including "being growth-minded," self-directed, flexible, and able to work together well with colleagues.

Other key marketable skills in business that he promotes:

  • integrating technology and humanity
  • having diverse perspectives
  • solving problems creatively
  • collaborating effectively

Advice for Students

"Carpe diem – Seek out new opportunities and take advantage of them."

Ken Rhee

Can you teach innovation?

In a BizCast podcast with the Rochester Business Journal, Rhee said key skill sets include being able to recognize new patterns through analyzing data, scanning the environment, and forecasting what might happen in the future.

Also, innovation happens because of the culture in an organization: Leaders must encourage open thoughts, experimentation with new ways of doing things, and out-of-the-box thinking — not traditional command-and-control leadership.

"Encourage people to learn from their mistakes," he added.

Fun is important

Rhee's M.B.A. program held classes Mondays through Thursdays, leaving Fridays as a study day. But during the winter, he went skiing on Fridays. "People thought I was crazy, but that [skiing] was very helpful. You can forget about what you're doing, focus on skiing, and just relax. I was very productive on weekends — so even though I took a whole day off, I was much more productive for the whole week because I was productive 6 days a week."

"Taking time off to do the things that will help you relax and divert your attention away from work — I think that's a key to anyone's success." His knee isn't happy skiing any more, but he's found other diversions. "I play golf these days and also I have a hobby in photography."