As dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, Laura D'Andrea Tyson was the first woman to head a major American business school. This week, she was named the first female dean of the London Business School.
Professor Tyson, who takes up the post next January, is best known for her theories on the importance of government help in fostering the international competitiveness of advanced industries. These theories gained credibility when she was appointed President Bill Clinton's national economic adviser during his first term of office. President Clinton praised her for offering "unfailingly frank, direct and principled advice".
She has also dabbled in journalism, with a column in Business Week , articles for The Washington Post and The New York Times and former membership of the board of economists on the Los Angeles Times . She credits her husband, novelist Erik Tarloff, with honing her writing skills.
A noted team-player, Professor Tyson took her first degree at the all-female Smith College, becoming its first graduate to win a postgraduate place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After completing her PhD, she was sent to a conference on women in science organised by the National Science Foundation. She said: "These women did not have that much in common, but the vast majority of them had been cheerleaders. When these women had grown up, there were no teams for women. So what women did who wanted to be competitive, wanted to be out there and involved with the school and part of the team, was cheerleading."
When she arrived at Haas in 1998, she spent millions of dollars on new computers, improving careers services and paying academics market salaries. She began to use executives from Silicon Valley as guest lecturers, along with big names, including actor Paul Newman.