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OEMBA News

COB Spotlight: J.F. Coget

Morels, Ethics, Cheerleading and Leadership:

Introducing Jean-François Coget, PhD, Our New COB Dean


That’s right: morels—otherwise known as sponge mushrooms or brain mushrooms. Foraging for these and other wild fungal delicacies is just one of the myriad interesting facets of Jean-François “JF” Coget, PhD, the new dean of the Sacramento State College of Business (COB).


Dr. Coget stepped into his new role this past January, one more step in a life in academics. Born and raised in Paris with an identical twin brother, he earned his BA from Lycée Stanislas and IPESUP and his MSc in Management from HEC Paris while working in finance. After a year at the French embassy in Portugal, his love of learning led him to a PhD in Organizational Behavior at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Then, back to France for a professorial stint at HEC, and across the Atlantic again to California, where he has lived ever since.


In his 15 years at Cal Poly and another 2 ½ years at Sonoma State, he held faculty roles at all levels, including professor, department chair, associate dean, and dean. Though all CSUs are governed under the same umbrella, they each have different cultures and ways of doing things. These experiences give Dr. Coget a unique perspective, as he’s able to compare and contrast the challenges and strengths of each.


His impressions about Sac State are that it’s quite dynamic, especially in evolving programs and keeping up with trends in higher education and industry. Also, other CSUs are more rural, which makes a difference for graduate programs—it’s a boon for our business school to be in a larger city, with more variety of industries, including state government. “Sac State is very diverse, which is something to be proud of,” said Dr. Coget. “And I’m struck by how engaged everyone is here. The staff is incredibly well-trained and engaged and they stay in their jobs. CSUs are typically not research oriented, but I see high-quality research by our faculty in top journals, as well as innovation in the classroom. Overall, I’m very impressed that despite bureaucracy, it works; it’s not dysfunctional.


His previous leadership experiences will inform his work in our College of Business. As the dean of Sonoma State’s School of Business and Economics, he’s particularly proud of having developed a new strategic plan and identity, broadening the school’s reach beyond wine and becoming more purpose driven. He worked with students, alumni, faculty, staff and other stakeholders to evolve the culture to be more collaborative, resulting in a new mission and vision with core values emphasizing diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability, and community engagement.


As for the Sac State COB, the dean has a few top priorities, one of which is being the chief cheerleader and storyteller. Dr. Coget says the college’s strengths lie in innovating new programs that meet industry demand (e.g., business analytics, cybersecurity), strength in quantitative business programs (e.g., analytics, accounting, finance), engaged and experienced staff, quality research and diversity.


“We have the potential to be recognized as one of the best COBs in the CSU system,” he said. “My roles are to communicate our successes, elevate the quality of our programs and research, articulate how our diversity is a strength, and find the one direction that will unite us. We have everything we need to be successful; how can we tell our story in a way that’s sexy? How do we differentiate ourselves? There’s so much potential for the region. Plus, we’re the only public business school in the area that has both undergrad and graduate programs—Davis only has graduate programs and they’re much more expensive.”


Besides being chief cheerleader, Dean Coget will also focus on evolving the COB culture to become more collaborative and on liberating and supporting the passions of faculty, staff, students and external supporters. “I really believe in creating a culture where people feel excited to come to work and collaborate. Culture is as important as strategy.”


Why academics? “It’s a noble profession with a meaningful mission,” said Dr. Coget. “It’s ethically rewarding. It feels good to make a positive difference in the world. I’m also a very curious person. One of the reasons I became a professor was because I wasn’t done learning. I enjoy the opportunity to meet others who are curious, who research deep topics. I like the diversity of backgrounds and disciplines.” As dean, he does regret having less interaction with students. “Working with students, the next generation, is refreshing, even in simple ways like language and new expressions. You get to stay young in some ways—although I also feel older because they never age!”


Even his choice of literature leans toward the academic. For the past 10 years, Dean Coget has been listening to a lot of audiobooks, particularly biographies and autobiographies. His two recent favorites are The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World, by Andrea Wulf, and Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, by Jim Mattis. He explained, “Humboldt was one of the most influential scientists of his time, with a county and a penguin named after him. He discovered how climate affects the ecosystem and was ahead of his time, being an environmentalist and pro–indigenous rights. And Mattis was an amazing leader with a deep understanding of how organizations work and how to lead people.”


And about those mushrooms? “Identifying them is an art and science. You can’t really recognize mushrooms just from pictures; you need to smell them, look at their undersides, know where they grow and which trees they grow with.” After you’re certain you’ve picked non-poisonous chanterelles, porcinis or morels, Dr. Coget recommends simple cooking that showcases the mushrooms—omelets, pasta with cream sauce or cream of mushroom soup.


In closing, the dean said, “I’m really thrilled to be here at Sacramento State. I’m very impressed with everything I’ve seen so far and I’m looking forward to meeting OEMBA members. There are a lot of fantastic things happening here and the sky’s the limit.”


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Dr. Coget is married and has two boys, ages five and 11, and two dogs—Truffy, an Italian greyhound, and Kai, a German shepherd/husky mix. He speaks French, English and Spanish fluently, and “a bit” of Portuguese, Italian and German. He looks forward to hunting for morels in the Sierras after the snow melts.


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This column celebrates Sacramento State Executive MBAs and their successes. Do you or an EMBA grad or current student you know have anything to feature? Any career news? Published books or papers? Awards? A day in the life of (your unique job)? Almost anything goes, as long as it’s professionally or educationally related. Email us at oembacsus@gmail.com. You/they could be featured in our next newsletter.


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