The art of making business personal

By

Sam Sloman

Some business schools have a reputation for being intense and impersonal. Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business instead aims to support work-life balance — which includes rubbing elbows and enjoying some vino.

The school's motto is even "Where business is personal," and its online and part-time MBA programs and regular alumni networking mixers are just a few examples of the school’s flexible, friendly culture in action.

W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Amy Hillman wanted to make that tagline more than just words to faculty, staff members and PhD students.

This year, Cary Lopez, the school's chief people and talent officer, has focused on finding ways to bring “Where business is personal” to life.

“As I’ve talked with individuals in the organization, I’ve learned the tagline is becoming our cultural value — it’s how people think of the organization and their role in it,” Lopez said.

That culture was on display at the recent "Business is Personal Wine and Paint Party" during happy hour at the Oasis, a monthly event where W. P. Carey School of Business professors, staff and PhD students meet for socializing, appetizers and drinks to foster the school’s flexible, friendly culture.

During the event, the group participated in pour painting. Each participant got a canvas, paint, gloves and an apron. They chose colors from the ASU brand palette and let gravity take over. For the final touch, participants shared their definition of business is personal, such as:

  • “Interactions, not transactions.”
  • “Making genuine connections.”
  • “Your career is my career.”
  • “Moments of impact that last a lifetime.”

After the paint dried, vinyl letters of the definitions were affixed to the paintings.

An installation featuring everyone's art and messages will be hung inside the Business Administration C-Wing building on the brick wall seen from inside the Starbucks on the first floor.