Yale School of Management Dean Departs for Apple

Yale School of Management Dean Joel M. Podolny ’86 announced yesterday that he will be leaving New Haven to take up a position with Apple, Inc.

Podolny, who also received a doctorate in sociology from Harvard in 1991, will resign his position Nov. 1 to become an Apple vice president and the dean of Apple University, a new training center for Apple employees.

Podolny taught in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School and in the sociology department in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from 2002 to 2005, when he left Cambridge to take the reins of Yale’s business school.

“This is not a decision I have taken lightly, and I am sure it comes as a surprise to many of you,” Podolny said in an e-mail statement to the School of Management. “On a personal level, I have never worked harder or felt more professionally rewarded, and I certainly expected to be here for some time.”

Yale President Richard C. Levin named School of Management Professor Sharon M. Oster as Podolny’s successor. Oster, who received a doctorate from Harvard in 1974, is currently the director of the School of Management’s Program on Social Enterprise.

Harvard Professor Mary C. Waters, who was chair of the sociology department from 2001 to 2005, praised Podolny for his expertise on the role of social status in markets.

“Joel Podolny is a terrific person and a very serious and well regarded scholar in economic sociology,” Waters said. “He is one of the international leaders in the field and that is why we hired him to a joint appointment in sociology and the Business School. We were very sorry to lose him to Yale.”

Before returning to Cambridge as a faculty member in 2002, Podolny served as co-director of Stanford’s Global Organization of Business Enterprise Initiative, where he offered courses in business management.

Waters pointed out that although she did not know the specifics of Podolny’s conversations with Apple, she could see one appeal of working for the Silicon Valley-based firm.

“I do know he and his family liked living in California and we had to convince him to move,” Waters said.

—Staff Writer Prateek Kumar can be reached at kumar@fas.harvard.edu.