Executive MBA Leadership Conference Brings Together Students and Alumni
By Mia Gleason
The Carson College of Business hosted its annual Executive MBA Leadership Conference to bring together Coug leaders interested in expanding their professional scope as it applies to being better business leaders and excelling in their academic fields.
“The Carson College offers this exclusive opportunity to MBA students and alumni to invest in their personal growth and to engage in meaningful connections with peers, faculty, and the program team,” said Cheryl Oliver, associate dean for professional programs. “I always look forward to this chance to meet with students and alumni. I am impressed to hear how they are progressing in their careers and to see the incredible relationships they have formed with one another.”
Hearing From Innovative Thought leaders
The conference introduced three leaders in business including Anu Arora, executive and empowerment coach; Stephen Krempl, CEO of Krempl Communications International; and Leah Sheppard, assistant professor of management in the Carson College.
Sheppard opened the conference with her session “Identifying and Confronting Bias in the Workplace” and used scenarios to lead thoughtful discussions centered around leadership and identification of bias.
“Leaders have a duty to foster diversity and inclusion at every level of their organizations,” Sheppard said. “This begins with confronting their own biases and then dismantling biases affecting their organization’s recruitment, selection, promotion, and performance appraisal processes. It won’t be accomplished overnight; it requires dedication, action plans, and follow through.”
Following Sheppard’s presentation and workshop, attendees heard from Arora on how they can adapt to become “emotionally effective leaders.”
Arora focused on this concept through innovative group activities and opportunities for participants to think about how they can address stress, management, assertiveness, and resiliency in the workforce and in their personal lives.
To wrap up the conference, providing a deeply experiential component, Krempl hosted an all-day session discussing “The 5% Zone: How to Stand out as a Global Executive.” Krempl presented the idea that small changes in behavior can equate to great outcomes both professionally and personally.
“We change our behavior and our energy assertion based on our role. Ninety-five percent of the time you can be who you are and work in your comfort zone. The other 5 percent of the time, when you may be engaging with senior leadership, you must take on a different role and exert a higher level of energy,” Krempl said. “You must ask yourself what role your senior management is expecting of you. You are only as good or as great as the person who comes before you or the person who comes after you.”
Conference Value and the Student Experience
Professional opportunities like the Executive MBA Leadership Conference give students the ability to network and experience face-to-face interaction that online programs are not able to provide.
“Building relationships was the best thing about the conference,” said Executive MBA student Matt Davenport, a financial center manager at Fifth Third Bank. “Connecting with my peers, faculty, and staff was definitely life-changing, and my network continues to grow because of experiences like these.”
“I would absolutely recommend this conference to my peers,” said Executive MBA student Shane Sullivan, a retired Naval officer and general manager at Aero-Flite, Inc. “Meeting other classmates who are ahead of you in the program, as well as your peers whom you may partner with on group projects, was an incredibly valuable part of my experience. It puts that face to the name, which is so important in an online learning environment because you may not get another opportunity to meet everyone.”
The annual Executive MBA Leadership Conference takes place in Seattle in September.
Learn more about the WSU Carson College Executive MBA program.