The future of work means thriving through change

Gerald Kane aims to prepare students for careers where evolution is a given and digital transformation is key
Jerry Kane in front of bookshelves

Each fall, when new management information systems majors walk into their first data management class, they can be assured of one thing — the state of data science will have improved by the time they graduate. 

With the rapid pace of technological change, the most significant thing an academic program can give its students is the ability to evolve, said Gerald Kane, who was named head of the Terry College of Business Department of Management Information Systems on Jan. 1. 

“It’s our job to stay not only on top of what is needed now, but also what’s going to be needed for the future,” added Kane, who holds a C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry Chair of Business Administration. “We’re trying to prepare the students for the business environment of the future, not just for today. Because if we’re preparing for today, we’re going to be too late.”

Kane succeeded department head Maric Boudreau, who has returned to full-time teaching and research. Boudreau served as department head for 12 of her 22 years on the MIS faculty. During that time, she oversaw an almost quadrupling of the department’s undergraduate majors and nearly tripling of its research faculty.

“I’m very grateful to Maric for the stellar leadership and direction she provided the MIS Department. Its reputation for impactful research, outstanding instruction and professional service is well deserved.” Dean Ben Ayers said. “I am confident the department will continue its upward trajectory under Jerry’s leadership.”

The reputation of the department’s faculty and students is what drew Kane to the University of Georgia in the first place. He sees continued opportunity to broaden the department’s reach and integrate machine learning across the program of study.

An Atlanta native, Kane began his academic career with a Ph.D. in information systems from Emory University and a 16-year tenure on the faculty of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, where he also served as a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He’s best known for his digital transformation research and how new technologies can change a company’s operational rhythm and work culture. His two books, 2021’s The Transformation Myth Leading Your Organization through Uncertain Times and 2019’s The Technology Fallacy: How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation, were published by MIT Press and focus on how companies can best take advantage of technological transitions by preparing their teams to adapt.

As a faculty member in MIS, which has a strong relationship with industry advisors and practitioners, Kane feels he is in a good position to help turn students into graduates who can shepherd companies through what he predicts will be successive technological transitions during their careers.

“I think our role is to prepare students to have a deep appreciation for the trajectory of digital technology,” he said. “Without it, you’re more likely to get sidetracked by all the hype that comes along without a critical understanding of what’s going to change and what’s not.”

In addition to producing great thinkers in the digital transformation space, Kane values the role the department plays more broadly across the Terry College in expanding digital fluency and students’ abilities to assess and integrate new technologies into their skill sets.

“I think the role of the MIS Department in the business school, in general, is not just to train MIS students to be tech leaders but also make sure other graduates and business leaders through executive education have the technological awareness and skills they need to thrive in their jobs as they change,” he said.