The Carlson School Magazine Spring 2021

From the Dean

Adjusting to a New Normal

Dean Sri Zaheer Headshot

It’s been more than a year since COVID-19 upended our lives. While nearly everything has changed, I still often find myself adjusting to a “new normal.” The same can be said for many of you, I’m sure. That’s especially true for those parents with young children at home, those taking care of sick or aging relatives, or those assisting siblings in their education, to name just a few examples. These blurred lines between all that we do can make our lives feel messy; they are also impacting businesses and the way we work.

As you may know or have experienced personally, women have felt these impacts acutely. The statistics are startling, disheartening, and deserving of our attention. In the following pages, you can learn more about the current situation, as well as the new opportunities it presents.

Several Carlson School faculty members are studying these impacts and providing their expertise to understand the many challenges resulting from child care, remote learning, and remote work, among others. Families today have different shapes, sizes, and roles, so I recognize that these shifting demands also affect each of us in varied ways—and we all need a little grace. There is a message here for companies of all shapes and sizes: It’s time to rethink work. Our faculty members are lending their expertise to suggest effective strategies that produce positive results for employees and the bottom line.

When we see positive things happen, we need to acknowledge them. I hope you find inspiration in the story of Professor Rachna Shah (who has been blending work and home for a long time!), and from the three female founders of Odele Beauty. Two of the three met as Carlson School students and all have the same goal of protecting what is important to them, which, as they say, can shift over time.

However, some things do not change, and that includes our commitment to fostering a diverse, welcoming, equitable community. The urgently important work to be anti-racist continues at our school, with new faculty and staff trainings underway as one important step. There are many faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are pushing us forward. I appreciate their passion, energy, and insights. But I know it will take a sustained effort from each of us to create long-lasting change.

I’m confident 2021 will bring us progress, on diversity, equity, and inclusion; on more flexible work; on the economy; and on our ability to gather together again.

Warmest regards,

Sri Zaheer,
Dean, Carlson School of Management

Cover story

Spring 2021 alumni magazine cover

Download the Spring 2021 issue

Women & Work: Exploring the challenges—and opportunities—presented by the pandemic.

Download this issue