Leaders in the Making

With the common goal of professional and leadership development, the Carson College’s 24 business clubs work with the Carson Center for Student Success to connect every business student with unique experiences that develop their skills and build their networks.

One of those unique experiences occurred over the summer with the launch of the inaugural Leadership Conference, where more than 50 student business club members convened in Pullman to gain leadership skills, strategies for building a strong organization, effective meeting practices, and career tips. Fifteen executive club officers from Everett, Tri-Cities, and Vancouver also attended, generously supported by a $5,500 contribution from The Boeing Company.

From left, Nick Fairchild, Payton Krumsick, and Kiiza Gbadebo-Smith

“I really enjoyed the networking aspect, and it was good to see the actual campus where the Carson College of Business operates,” said Floyd Adams, Marketing Club officer and management information systems senior.

“It was my first time attending a leadership conference,” said Issac Weil, Carson Center employee and marketing junior. “The mix of students and older, professional presenters gave us good perspectives from youth and those with career experience.”

Jessica Cassleman, assistant dean and director of the Carson College International Business Institute, gave the morning address. She asked students to consider what it means to be a leader and the importance of that role. “Work to bring out the best in your followers and yourself while minimizing the worst,” she said. “It’s also important to accept when you are wrong and make changes. As a student leader within the Carson College, we expect you to enjoy the path of change.”

Importance of diversity, inclusion

From left, Sophia Gaither, Isaac Weil, Danielle Buckner

Participants rotated among four breakout sessions on various leadership topics, including the power of diversity, delivered by Maximiliano Prado, finance senior and founder of the Association of Latino Professionals for America student organization. Prado spoke on the significance of diversity in today’s job market. As the largest generation in history, millennials represent many ethnicities. “Sixty-seven percent of millennial job seekers say a diverse workforce is important to them when considering job offers,” he said.

He explained the difference between diversity and inclusion and why they are important distinctions. “Diversity is like the invitation to the party,” he said. “Inclusion is like being asked to dance. It is important for leaders to promote both. If you create a diversity team within your organization, incorporate team building to create trust and unity. Develop a culture where anyone can provide feedback.”

Tips on what employers want

Judy Hopkins, internship coordinator, WSU Academic Success and Career Center, said internships and service experiences top the list as best practices for getting a job after graduation. “Employers don’t want to hire one dimensional people,” she said. “They are looking for certain qualities and want interns who know the company’s value and mission, can work in a team, show skills and competence, and demonstrate values and caring for people. In the end, having the highest GPA will not make you successful.”

She advised taking advantage of the student resources available, working collaboratively across campus to form a professional network, and developing an elevator speech that captures “who you are, where you are going, and what you have to declare.”

Making meetings effective

Dr. Tom Tripp delivering the concluding keynote address

Tom Tripp, Carson College associate dean for undergraduate programs, closed the conference with tips on how to run effective meetings. “Good meetings have three Ps: a purpose, participants, and a plan,” he said. “You have eight minutes before people start to disengage and bystander apathy sets in. Start the meeting on time with an agenda and be task oriented.”

He described some common pitfalls found in ineffective meetings, such as “death by PowerPoint,” repetitive opinions or rants, lack of tabling and decisions, and last minute cancellations. To avoid these problems, Tripp recommended limiting the meeting size to fewer than 10 people, putting the most important items in the middle third of the agenda, and distributing agendas prior to the meeting.

Tripp said three key leadership roles contribute to meeting success: taskmaster, facilitator, and devil’s advocate. The taskmaster should arrive early, set up technology and chairs, etc. The facilitator should pay attention to group dynamics and social behavior of the group. The devil’s advocate helps prevent group dysfunction. “Call on people to respond,” he said. “Silence doesn’t equal agreement.”

Following the breakout sessions, committee members voted on the top three student presenters, who received a $1,000 scholarship to support their club. Winners included: Nicholas Fairchild, Sigma Iota director of events, “How to Lead Your Team in Any Setting;” Kiiza Gbadebo-Smith, Carson College of Business ambassador, “Business Mentorship;” and Payton Krumsick, Professional Convention Management Association president, “How to Create Professional Emails.”

To learn about how you can support Carson College business student leaders,
contact Sophia Gaither at sophia.gaither@wsu.edu or 509-335-8285.