LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Author and former Amazon and General Motors executive Dr. Michael Arena will assume the role of Dean of Biola University’s Crowell School of Business on July 1, 2023.
“As Biola continues to strengthen our academic programs and student placement through our Crowell School of Business, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Arena as our incoming dean,” said President Barry H. Corey. “His experience as a corporate executive, adjunct faculty member at University of Pennsylvania, author and innovator makes him an ideal leader at Biola University. Seasoned by a humble spirit and Christlike disposition, Dr. Arena will lead the Crowell school of business into a season of remarkable influence through our graduates.”
Last fall, Biola commenced a national search for the next leader to serve as Dean of Crowell School of Business after Gary Lindblad, dean of Crowell, announced his retirement. He will serve through June of this year. A search advisory committee, composed of faculty, staff and a member of the board of trustees, helped facilitate the search for a new dean. In the past couple of months, it became clear that Arena would be best suited to lead Crowell into the future.
“I believe we have identified the right leader to build on the strengths of the Crowell School of Business and provide the kind of energy and vision needed to move forward,” said Dr. Matthew Hall, provost and senior vice president. “Dr. Arena comes to this post with vast experience in some of the most senior levels of executive leadership at Bank of America, General Motors, and, most recently, Amazon. His expertise in talent development, strategic planning and innovation, and organizational health stands out. But so too does his evident character, heartfelt concern for others and a love for Christ.”
With more than 20 years of experience in Fortune 100 companies, Arena successfully managed the talent and development portfolio of the Amazon Web Service to help grow the business from $26 billion to nearly $75 billion dollar run rate in revenue in three years. Additionally, he led business transformation at General Motors (GM) by introducing innovative initiatives resulting in growth for the company. His book, Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations, which is based on his work at GM, outlines a model to reinvent a company.
“For nearly a decade, I’ve worked with a team of academic researchers, organizational leaders, and skilled practitioners to build practical solutions for adaptation,” said Brad Anderson, retired CEO and chairman of Best Buy. “Michael Arena was a central member of this team, and along with his colleagues at General Motors, he built a breakthrough methodology to lead this type of organizational transformation.”
Arena served as Vice President for Talent and Development at Amazon Web Services (AWS) until 2022 and prior to joining AWS he served as Chief Talent Officer at GM for seven years. From 2006 to 2010 he served as Senior Vice President of Leadership Development at Bank of America where he co-designed and launched the Center for Future Banking.
“Michael Arena is an extraordinarily skilled thinker, learner and researcher as well as an accomplished practitioner and executive in applying organizational theory and design,” said Alan M. Barstow, Ph.D., Program Director and Senior Scholar, Organizational Dynamics, University of Pennsylvania. “Blending these accomplishments with his strong sense of purpose and deep humility will make him an ideal leader for the Crowell School of Business at Biola University.”
In addition to his vast experience as an executive, Arena has also spent time in the classroom as a student and professor. He received his doctorate in Organization Development from the Union Institute and University, his MBA from Wheeling Jesuit University and his bachelor of science degree from PennWest California University.
Arena spent two years as a visiting scientist with MIT's Media Lab studying network theory. He served as a faculty member of the Masters of Science in Organizational Dynamics Program at the University of Pennsylvania and as a design thinking coach at Stanford University, in addition to serving as an adjunct professor at McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte and Pfeiffer University. He currently serves as a board member for the Association for Talent Development, the largest professional association for learning and talent development professionals across the globe, serving more than 35,000 members across 120 countries.
“I am honored to be joining the faculty and staff of the Crowell School of Business at Biola University,” said Arena. “This is an incredible opportunity to engage my core passions at the intersection of business, academia, and faith, and I feel privileged to partner in the critical mission of equipping students to work out their full potential in business while remaining grounded in Christian principles.”
Founded in 1993, Biola University’s Crowell School of Business is a leader among Christ-centered business schools, offering several programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). At Crowell, students of all levels and backgrounds are equipped to thrive personally and professionally — empowered with the integrity, skill and conviction to lead the modern marketplace. We welcome kingdom-minded professionals who are driven to make a difference in and through their work. Through innovative graduate and undergraduate programs, students are prepared to thrive in business while serving Christ.
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