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Cambridge Judge Appoints First-Ever Female Director of the MBA

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As MBA students arrived on campus at Cambridge University’s Judge School of Business (CJBS) last month, a new academic director stood ready to greet them. Jane Davies, an expert in operations management and process excellence, was appointed in August to serve as the first-ever female director of the MBA program at Judge. Her appointment nicely coincides with the school’s launch of a Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) earlier in the year, new scholarships for females in partnership with the 30% Club, sponsorship of a new Women Entrepreneur of the Year award and a continued focus on gender-diversity related research by faculty.

While new to the role of academic director, Davies is far from new to Judge. Since 2009, she has taught operations management—including the school’s core course on operations—and she has twice won the CJBS Teaching Award as the highest-rated MBA lecturer by students, in both 2013 and 2015.

Jane Davies, first-ever director of the MBA at Cambridge's Judge Business School
Jane Davies, first-ever female director of the MBA at Cambridge’s Judge Business School

Speaking to Clear Admit just before students were scheduled to arrive on campus last month, Davies modestly downplayed how much her students seem to love her. “I don’t know about being loved,” she says with a laugh, “but I do take an interest in the students.” This means getting to know them on a first-name basis and understanding their backgrounds and inspirations, even across large core lecture classes.

“My new role will give me more of an opportunity to get to know them in greater depth and across the full academic year,” she says with clear excitement. As academic director, she will also be focused on ensuring the continuing high quality of the entire MBA program.

“I will be working to give students the best possible program and experience they can have, making sure we are academically rigorous, making sure the program is relevant and developing the program further on the practical side to give students critical real-world experience,” she says. She doesn’t worry about missing the role of lecturer, though, since she’ll also continue to teach both her core classes and electives.

Asked about any specific insights and priorities she brings as the first female director, Davies says she views her contributions as regardless of gender. “I previously worked in the consulting sector, I undertook an MBA myself, I know what it’s like to switch careers,” she says. Some might even call her a career pivot expert. She began as a management consultant, returned to earn her MBA, worked in finance at Fidelity and then obtained her doctorate and transitioned once again to academia.

This experience positions her well to help meet the needs of Judge MBAs, 89 percent of whom switched jobs or industry or countries last year, and 30 percent of whom switched all three, she says.

But it’s her operations expertise that perhaps will serve her most in this new role, she says. “I am used to getting stuff done, I focus on delivery and outcomes, I am really concentrated on the quality of service we deliver and I value and act on feedback.” Her operations background also means she is always looking for continuing improvement. “We are always looking for how we can expand what we offer students.”