23/01/2007 - 22:00

Horton's dual focus

23/01/2007 - 22:00

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It has been a challenging two years for UWA Business School dean Tracey Horton.

Horton's dual focus

It has been a challenging two years for UWA Business School dean Tracey Horton.

After leaving a successful career in management consulting, including seven years with Bain & Co based in San Francisco, Mrs Horton embraced a change in direction by taking on the role of the dean of the University of Western Australia’s business school.

Since taking on the role in early 2005, Mrs Horton has managed the construction of the business school’s new $45 million home, a three-story complex expected to be completed next year.

And, while making sure the bricks and mortar go up, she hounds the corporate world for sponsorships in a bid to reach the school’s fundraising target of $25 million.

Mrs Horton is more than half-way there, with $13 million committed so far. This year, Mrs Horton takes on a new task – integrating the Graduate School of Management into UWA’s business school.

Mrs Horton was part of a team that believed amalgamating the two schools would create greater synergies. She previously was responsible for the two schools, with each school having different budgets and managers.

“It’s a cultural shift and this year is very much a transition year,” Mrs Horton told WA Business News.

“The challenge is to make sure we don’t lose any of the positives we had when they were separate schools.

"The GSM became known for the MBA and providing a speciality offering for post graduates and we need to make sure people know that it’s all still here but under the business school.”

Mrs Horton is also chairman of the D’Orsogna board and was previously a non-executive director of the Water Corporation and Good Samaritan Industries.

She said more boards were taking on people with diversified skills and that meant more women were being called upon. However, she acknowledges that there are few women on company boards.

“Is it the best thing to draw on 50 per cent of the population if you want the most talented people in the role?” she said.

Mrs Horton would like to see more women be elected to boards, but based on merit rather than enshrined in legislation.

“No-one wants to be told they are in the position they are in because they are a woman,” she said.

Mrs Horton said women often returned to work in less demanding positions after having children, something which often meant they were overlooked for promotions and resulted in fewer women making it to senior positions.

Mrs Horton, a mother of two boys, said she was lucky enough to be able to hire a full-time nanny after returning to the fast-paced world of management consulting.

She said that, by going back into a “client-facing” role, she was able to continue to progress up the corporate ladder.

And she was a better business-woman because she had kids.

“I have a bit more perspective. It helps me to stand back and not get so overwhelmed when something I’ve been working really hard on for a long time doesn’t come off.”

UWA’s business school is made up of a who’s who in Perth’s business circles, with managing director of Azure Capital chairman, John Poynton, and Woodside chief Don Voelte among several high-profile men on the board.

“The calibre of the board certainly keeps me on my toes” Mrs Horton said. “But that’s a good thing.”

Earlier this year, Mrs Horton stepped down from the Water Corporation board, a decision she said was based on the amount of time she had available for extra curricular activities.

However, she has not ruled out on joining more boards in the future.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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