GCP Spotlight: Dr. Elad Granot, Dean of John Carroll University’s Boler College of Business
By Laura DeMarco
Dr. Elad Granot has been a venture capitalist, professor, consultant, CMO of KPMG in Tel Aviv, CEO of a large media production company, sales manager for an international company and an officer in the Israel Defense Forces. But he currently holds the role he is most passionate about, Dean of John Carroll University’s Boler College of Business, a position he accepted in 2022 after more than two decades at Rider, Ashland and Cleveland State universities.
In this position, Dr. Granot strives to make an impact on both his students’ lives and the regional ecosystem. He is truly All in for his John Carroll community — and Cleveland.
Dr. Granot recently took some time to sit down with Greater Cleveland Partnership to discuss the integral role of business colleges in the ecosystem, the major challenges facing future business leaders, sustainability, innovation and why the “tight knit” city of Cleveland is moving forward with a new generation of leaders — and possibilities.
Did you always want to teach business?
Following my military service in the Israeli Defense Forces, my entire career has been in international business. I’ve worked for large multinationals. I’ve advised start-ups and medium sized companies. I work alongside venture capital firms.
I never had any intention to go into higher education. That changed when I had an opportunity to speak in an MBA class that a colleague was teaching. I loved it.
Years later, I entered the University of Massachusetts doctoral program with every intention of going back to business when I was done, but certainly still no intention of full time academia. But there are requirements to teach classes. And I found myself yet again teaching. And again, the sheer joy of that experience surfaced to the point where I pivoted and decided that I will go into higher education. I was fortunate enough to have a number of offers. One of them was from Cleveland State University.
Jumping forward to your move to John Carroll, what made that appealing?
I’ve had great respect for the business college for my entire time that I’ve been aware of it. I consider it the premier business school in Northeast Ohio and for multiple reasons: its accreditation level, its accomplishments, its alumni base, the outcomes for of the students coming out of Boler.
In previous institutions, I when I laid out the strategy, I specifically said that the Boler College of Business should be our roadmap. This is what we’re trying to emulate. … When I became aware of a vacancy at Boler, I had to apply.
A university is a unique member of a community. They have a business, a thing that they do, which is educate people, but they also play a role in the community. How does Boler see its role in the Cleveland community?
The role of any business school is to be a foundational partner in its ecosystem. It has to be.
Institutions of higher education are incredibly important, and business schools in particular are charged with pumping talent into their ecosystems.
That’s what Boler is here to do. There’s no other function in any ecosystem that is charged with that. If you look if you look at government, they don’t generate talent. If you look at industry, it definitely it doesn’t do that. It consumes talent. The only function in an ecosystem that does that, and is charged with that as its mission, is higher education. And specifically for me and for Boler, that is business schools. We are foundational members of the ecosystem that we serve.
You mentioned earlier you use Boler as a roadmap. What were they were doing right before you got there — and how have you built upon that?
What Boler has always done right is insist on two things that are foundational to the university and to the college. One is constantly pursuing the highest levels of academic content and education at the highest level with no compromises and constantly increasing that. The second is and closely related to its Jesuit mission, and that is serving the community. What we’ve done since we started working together is take that as a core and really start to identify who we are.
If we realize that we are foundational members of the ecosystem, then what do we want to be known for? We came up with what evolved as “The Boler Effect.” We aspire to have an ecosystem that’s comprised of five things:
First is ecosystem impact … we are focused on having an impact on our ecosystem that goes beyond societal impact, which is critically important.
The second thing is “learning by doing.” We’re a business school, not some theoretical ivory tower institution. We teach applied skills. And so we give our students opportunities for practicing their skills.
The third is we’re focusing on internationalizing the curriculum. The reason for that should be obvious. It’s a global marketplace.
The fourth thing is that we’re implementing what we call “tech core” into our curriculum. It’s required and for good reason. Modern society demands a technological proficiency and business schools are not teaching it at the level critical for today’s marketplace. Today, every business is a technology business. So we’ve started a tech core to complement the liberal arts core. For example, accounting students will study blockchain, finance students will study fintech, marketing as students will study ad tech.
The final thing that matters to Boler is our MBA program. We are heavily investing to make sure that we offer more specializations. We’re calling it the MBA+. You’re going to get an MBA, but you can get a certification in nonprofit administration or health care administration or financial management, whatever you’re passionate about.
What are major challenges facing future business leaders?
Technology goes without saying. It filters through everything. And I think the major issues you can see that happening in macro-economic trends are supply chain challenges and talent challenges. We even have employers demanding to see freshmen in our career fairs. There is a significant shortage of talent in the marketplace. Talent is a huge, huge challenge for employers, as is an understanding of supply chain and its implications.
One of the other things that really matters is innovation. Innovation is critical to growth and more and more companies do not realize that they, too, are a technology company.
It used to be you would say, tech companies and go, “Google, Facebook, etc.” Now, if you think about if you think about Northeast Ohio, UH for example is a tech company, right? Everything runs on their own technology.
So if you sort of put it all together, how does innovation give an edge? What you see is a lot of companies investing in innovation because they don’t have it organically. So they outsource it initially, but then they try to grow innovation from inside. Take, for example, Goodyear. Goodyear has shown amazing effort that they’re putting into innovation. I mean, you might think it’s a company that makes tires, what’s the big deal? But you can’t grow without innovation.
My goal is to produce students who are not just technologically competent, but can think innovatively and entrepreneurially.
You are speaking at Geater Cleveland Partnership’s Sustainability Summit. Can you share a little bit about its importance?
Sustainable business practices are smart business. So, so putting aside for a second our responsibility towards a planetary society, it’s smart business to operate in a sustainable manner and make sure that you maximize resources, make sure that you minimize waste, make sure that you think long term in terms of impacting your environment.
It’s just good business to do that. When you put that together with values, it becomes a management imperative, a management philosophy and a way to do business.
Your students are young. Sustainability is going to be a part of their whole career.
It will become the DNA of doing business. It’s already started. And so I think down the road, let’s put it this way, I don’t think the Sustainability Summit is sustainable because at a certain point it’ll be so obvious that there’ll be no point in mentioning it. It will be the only way of doing business. Just like technology.
Could share a few thoughts on the Cleveland business community?
One of the things I love about the Cleveland community translates into its business community: we are a big city in terms of what we have here, but we’re a small town in terms of how we operate. What I mean by that is, if I want to reach out to someone I didn’t know, it would be literally one email. Or when you go to the airport here, it’s like a high school reunion. We have all of the amenities of a large city, but we also have this very tight knit community. If we don’t know each other, then we know somebody who knows whoever we need to talk. I love being a part of that. I love that we are now in a winning All In mentality.
I’m certainly All In. It feels like it’s the right time, and it’s more than a feeling. We can see that on the ground. We’re moving forward.
There’s a generational shift of folks like me who’ve been here for a long time, or who have grown up here, who are now in places where they can influence Northeast Ohio. The traditional parochial structure is disintegrating right before our eyes.
We’re all working together to move forward. I feel so privileged to be a part of it.
Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Abundant Talent.