Laura D'Andrea Tyson didn't accept her new job because of the weather. After all, who'd swap sunny California for bleak Britain? Instead, Tyson who was U.S. President Bill Clinton's chief economic adviser from 1993 to 1996 carefully weighed the pluses and minuses of a move from the dean's office at the University of California's Haas School of Business to the London Business School. "Weather isn't everything," says Tyson, who concluded that London is the place to be a center for culture, commerce, the arts, business and world trade. Her task: to lead the L.B.S. in its "mission" to become "the leading and most respected international business school."
To meet that goal, the L.B.S. a graduate college of the University of London recruited Tyson, 54. Before taking up her new post in mid-January, she was the only woman leading a major U.S. business school. She became dean at Haas in 1998, having previously taught economics and business administration at its Berkeley campus. The liberal, New Jersey-born economist earned her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has also taught there, as well as at Princeton and Harvard where her son, Elliott, 18, is studying government. Tyson, in mock horror, fears he'll become a politician. Married to novelist Erik Tarloff, she has written many books and articles, on such topics as Eastern Europe, high technology and global trade competition.
Since taking charge in London, Tyson has been on the go. Recently back from the World Economic Forum in New York, she will continue to travel, raising the L.B.S. profile and seeking "sustainable ways of funding growth" at the school. "While it is in the top 10," Tyson says, "it is up against strong international competition." Among other strategies, she plans to build on a unique "global executive m.b.a." program with New York's Columbia Business School, nurture links with the new Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and foster ties with other disciplines within the University of London.
It will take more than mere wind and rain to faze Tyson, who has seen power close up. And when a Democrat gets back in the White House, a return to the political maelstrom is possible. Consider the reason she has sometimes given for taking the L.B.S. job: "Al Gore didn't win."
TIME: What do you see ahead, economically, given the current slump?
Tyson: The evidence points to a picking-up of the global economy in the second half of 2002. It will be a slow recovery to complement a fairly mild and short recession. What people shouldn't expect is that we are going to go back to the equity
values and profit rates of 1999 and 2000.
TIME: Does the developing world have a chance?
Tyson: I think the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11 and the aftermath have really raised the voices of those who are worried about the stability of a world where you have inequity between the developed and developing world. I'm more optimistic and believe this is likely to lead to real improvement.
TIME: Do you have a philosophy of government?
Tyson: My views are very much influenced by my background as an American. Economics has a view of government that dates back to Adam Smith, who had a clear, liberal view: a limited government plays roles that private institutions and private citizens cannot.
TIME: Is there a difference in business education in the U.S. and in Europe?
Tyson: There tends to be a global model. While business education has a more established reputation in the U.S., the format case studies, group working, industrial placements, etc. is being followed at leading non-U.S. schools.
TIME: What got you interested in economics?
Tyson: Sometimes you are just lucky in life, in finding something you enjoy. It combined analytically interesting questions with practicality. I've always wanted to feel I was doing things to try to influence outcomes that affected real lives.