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Section Three: The Leader’s Journey

July/August 2019

By Business Officer editors

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What will the future require from higher education leadership?

Strategic thinker. Engaged collaborator. Effective communicator. In addition to technical expertise, today’s chief business officer is expected to bring oversight skills to the job and insight to the complex challenges facing his or her institution, and also to show up with solutions to new revenue demands.

The proliferation of institutional data—and the attempt to make sense of it all—is another way expectations of higher education leaders are expanding. By being proficient with data, institution leaders can empower the entire campus to improve student outcomes and identify operational savings. The ability to inspire a culture of change—to do the hard work of realigning academic programs and priorities or rethinking business or student services—will become an increasingly valuable trait of the transformative leader.

Perhaps no leadership attribute will be more in demand than someone who can simultaneously focus on furthering the institution’s core mission while keeping an eye fixed on the external forces and trends shaping the higher education industry. Successful leaders will be able to assimilate the best approaches for their institutions in service of a new generation of diverse learners.

Finally, no role will be more important for the CBO than his or her active participation in preparing the next cohort of business office leaders to take the helm. By ensuring a legacy of strategic and operational expertise, leaders also guarantee that future industry and institution challenges will be adeptly met and managed.

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