Throughout the first year of the MBA Program, my classmates and I get a chance to participate in leadership activities and receive academic credit as a result. A total of 12 points are required for academic credit and can be attained from a large menu of activities offered through Kenan-Flagler’s Leadership Initiative. The first points towards the Leadership credit are gained during First Year Orientation by completing the Pre-MBA Assessment and Workshop.
Regular classes were canceled on Friday, November 6th so that First Year MBAs could participate in Leadership Day. The morning kicked-off with “Lessons of Experience” talks from successful Kenan-Flagler alums. The speakers included Fred McCoy, Vice Chairman, Synecor and former President, Guidant Cardiac Rhythm Management; Keith Pigues, SVP & CMO, Ply Gem; and Mick Hawk, President, Bonton, who was just honored by Kenan-Flagler with a Global Leadership Award, which honors an alumnus, alumna or friend of the school whose global participation and initiative advance the school’s education, research and public service mission. I attended the talk by Mick Hawk, who is currently President of Bonton, a major Czech media company with holdings including Bontonfilm, a.s., which is a movie-distributing company, and Bonton Home Entertainment. Mick’s talk was very inspirational (especially to students like me who are particularly interested in the media and entertainment industry) and a lot of fun. He shared incredible stories about joining Bonton in Prague when he spoke no Czech and when the company only had 3 employees. The person who recruited Mick to Bonton in Prague was a UNC Kenan-Flagler professor, and Mick has been there ever since!
The afternoon of Leadership Day was spent in small teams working on a Diagnosing & Leading Change Simulation. The online simulation provided us with an interactive way to think about how to implement change, something all successful leaders must be able to achieve. We all received reading material a week before Leadership Day in order to prepare for the online simulation. The materials included readings on theories regarding managing organizational change as well as a “Player’s Guide” for the simulation. The “Player’s Guide” included a case study on GlobalTech, a fictitious company which provided us with a snapshot of a company at a critical time in a particular industry. The case study also included interviews with key executives at GlobalTech who all had differing opinions of the company’s strategy going forward and different attitudes regarding potential change in the organization. It was our group’s job to build and implement a change plan for GlobalTech by utilizing a series of tactics to bring about change within the organization. After implementing each tactic, each Kenan-Flagler team was able to see how that particular tactic influenced the receptiveness of each GlobalTech’s employee to change initiatives. My team was particularly nervous when we required the GlobalTech employees to attend a team building exercise. When we hit “submit,” the online simulation played a video showing GlobalTech employees running out of their corporate headquarters. We were sure that we had made a terrible mistake and that the employees were fleeing the building in protest. We were happy to see, however, that the employees were soon throwing Frisbees and playing games with each other (the simulation’s way of illustrating team-building activities, I presume).
I was really impressed with Leadership Day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Mindy Storrie, Director of Leadership Development and Peter Romanella, Associate Director of Leadership Development are hard at work on the early stages of planning the Spring Leadership Day. In fact, they asked participants of the Fall Leadership Day for feedback on what worked best, and to solicit ideas of what they might do differently in the future. This is a real testament to the involvement students have in our curriculum and activities at Kenan-Flagler.
Class of ’11