Mark Griffin: Up for the challenge

August 13, 2014 By unc kenan-flagler
Mark Griffin (BSBA ’77)

Mark Griffin (BSBA ’77)

Thanks to the generosity of Mark Griffin (BSBA ’77), UNC Kenan-Flagler offered leadership training to more students this year by enabling them to participate in the School’s Magnetic Leadership Simulation, a day-long exercise that creates the pressures of a real-world management setting in the safety of a classroom.

“Magnetic Leadership is a business simulation that provides an opportunity for students to practice skills and competencies important to effective leadership,” says Mindy Storrie (EMBA ’97), director of leadership development.  “It helps students gain a deeper understanding of their natural leadership style, strengths and areas for improvement.  Participants have the chance to co-lead a team in a simulated safe environment that mimics the real-life decisions leaders face on a daily basis.”

“I was looking for avenues of charitable giving, and UNC Kenan-Flagler’s leadership program was on the top of my list,” says Griffin, president and owner of Blue Eagle Consulting.  “Rachel McNassor in the development department was kind enough to introduce me to Mindy Storrie to learn more about the program, and I was extremely impressed with her vision and passion.  The curriculum and program objectives seemed on point for preparing students for the world beyond college.”

During Magnetic Leadership, leaders experience making the following kinds of decisions under pressure:

A team trying to agree on decisions regarding their product while the clock is ticking

A team trying to agree on decisions regarding their product while the clock is ticking

• setting a strategy, then communicating and aligning resources accordingly

• building, engaging and motivating a team

• prioritizing resources and time to execute

• balancing business results versus people engagement

• ensuring customer demands are met and satisfaction levels maintained.

Participants have the opportunity to practice skills important to leadership, such as communication, influence, managing conflict, empowering and delegating, and driving results.

A critical component of our business simulations -- feedback and reflection

A critical component of our business simulations — feedback and reflection

After each round of the business cycle, the leaders receive feedback from their peers and from executive coaches. Everyone has the opportunity to co-lead, as well as observe and provide feedback to other leaders.

UNC Kenan-Flagler first offered Magnetic Leadership last year to the Leadership Immersion Capstone Course for students in the full-time MBA Program. (See related article Leadership simulation puts principles into practice.)  The course is unique among business schools. Students spend seven weeks – an entire quarter of their second year as MBAs – working solely on honing their leadership skills. The module teaches real-world leadership skills through “Apprentice”-style team competitions, business simulations, outdoor challenges, engagement with C-suite executives and individual observation, coaching and feedback.

“It ended up being the best, off-the-shelf, interactive simulation I have observed or offered in the past eight years of the Leadership Initiative,” says Storrie.  “This was based on feedback from the 24 student participants and the six executive coaches who helped facilitate the experience.”

Griffin’s gift also enabled UNC Kenan-Flagler to offer the simulation to undergraduate business students.

“By the time I graduate, I want to be a confident leader with concrete experiences that provide me the insight to step into a job, quickly move into a leadership role and immediately make an impact,” says Alex Bales (BSBA ’16), a junior business major and member of the UNC football team. “The session was tremendously effective and a great learning experience. Perhaps the most critical part of the program was being able to work with MBA students who have much more work experience than I do. This could be a valuable program for all student athletes in their junior or senior year because it gives them the opportunity to transition their leadership skills from the field, court, pool, etc. into a work environment.”

Griffin served as an executive coach for the simulation earlier this year.

“It was a fun and rewarding experience,” he says.  “I was impressed with not only the students’ intelligence and drive for accomplishment but also their ability to work together collaboratively with people they had just met.  Even so, the workshop challenged them. They learned that leadership counts in group situations and needs to be thought through and deliberate. Being great at collaboration and/or working harder is simply not enough to achieve team success.”

Developing leaders is a year round focus for UNC Kenan-Flagler, which launched its Leadership Development initiative in 2005. Today the School is recognized as having one of the best and most comprehensive leadership development programs of any business school. The goal is to give students a competitive advantage when they graduate and prepare them for success throughout their careers.

“It is clear that gifts directed at this program are doing great things with wonderful people in an outstanding college,” says Griffin.  “It is very gratifying to be able to contribute in a small way to the higher achievements of UNC Kenan-Flagler and its students.”

If you are interested in supporting leadership development at UNC Kenan-Flagler, please contact us at or 919.962.9252.