Friday, September 30, 2011

Terry Builds Leadership…Really

Yesterday and today at Terry, two teams of MBA students competed in the Leadership Crisis Challenge. Valerie Alderson, who participated in last year's challenge, had this to say about her experience:

If I were a betting woman,--and I am-- I would bet that every MBA program claims to be developing the next generation of leaders in some way, shape, or form. Last year over 150,000 MBAs were conferred* and, of course, all those MBAs were prepared to take on the world! The only issue? The real world is not a classroom.

Decisions have implications. You don’t get a grade on a work project. It’s not feasible to learn how to be a leader by simply reading a book. Recognizing these differences between the classroom and the office, Terry decided to build a specific leadership development component into the curriculum.

Terry works real life challenges into the classroom environment in a fun yet challenging way. An example of this was a crisis challenge where 10 of us were separated into 2 teams of 5 to compete against one another to complete the best business plan under strict time constraints. These were the guidelines we were given:

“Congratulations, you are the new project team on a luxury resort project. The project is 3 weeks behind schedule and $2 million dollars over budget. We have to open on time so you need to find out how to make that happen. The Board will give you 5 minutes tomorrow at the end of their meeting to present your plan.”

We received some additional information, though not enough to make the best choices. I won’t bore you with all of the details, except to say that each piece of info we received about cutting costs or speeding up completion time was going to have negative backlash. Each team had until midnight (a 6 hour deadline,) and all we had were whiteboards, Excel and PowerPoint; the tools of masters. At 11:59pm we submitted our 5-slide PowerPoint for the “board meeting” the next day.

The following morning we were met by four men of varying backgrounds that shared one thing in common: they were our ‘board’ and were here to give us a hard time about the difficult choices we had made.

Even though it was a simulation, it was downright scary being attacked by these seemingly powerful execs. We stood our ground and remained united as a team and we did survive…just long enough to receive a message from our imaginary CEO about a scandal that was going to hit the airwaves tomorrow. We had 45 minutes to write a press release and then give a press conference to -- you guessed it -- two actual members of the UGA press who were there to batter us with questions.

While undoubtedly stressful, the entire event was a great learning experience.

After the barrage of questions from the ‘board’ and the ‘press,’ it was only fair that they provide us some feedback. I truly learned some great things about dealing with a BOD that I never would have learned in the classroom. It was a simulation, but it was as real as it gets before it gets real enough that jobs are on the line.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Join Us for Fall Visit Days

Every MBA Program has its own personality. Some schools are more competitive, some more collaborative. Your significant other may be welcomed at one school and feel less comfortable at another. Your interest in starting a new student club may be met with encouragement or resistance. Your particular work experience may be highly valued or largely discounted. The faculty may know you by name, or you may be one of a sea of faces. So how do you figure out which MBA personality is the best match with yours?

The closest you’re going to get to actually being in an MBA program is visiting one. When I say visiting I don’t mean chatting with someone from the program at a reception at a hotel; I mean going to the home turf: the campus visit. I encourage anyone considering enrolling in an MBA program to visit the campus sometime before making an enrollment decision. That’s right, you’ve got time- it doesn’t have to be before you apply or even before you’re accepted, just sometime before you choose to commit. You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, right? Enrolling in a MBA program is an even bigger economic decision, and a campus visit is your opportunity to test drive.

Every school handles campus visits a different way, so I encourage you to check websites and look for the visit opportunities each school presents. The Full-Time MBA program at the University of Georgia offers opportunities to visit in the form of information sessions (which are open to the general public) and visits scheduled in conjunction with an admissions interview (by invitation only after submission of an application). When you come for an interview at Terry you are also able to visit a class and go out to lunch with a current student. Why do we ask you to wait until after you apply? We have 101 Full-Time Terry MBA students, and we do well over 101 interviews per year! Out of consideration for limited student time (and staff time), we limit the opportunity to candidates who are seriously considering Terry. Due to our small staff size, walk-in visitors can be tough for us to accommodate. I encourage you to email or call ahead if you want to set up an informational appointment with a member of the staff. Be prepared to make positive impression: dress the part, review available information on the program, and come with a list of questions.

We’re offering four special opportunities to visit the UGA campus soon: Fall Visit Days. Join us for a Fall Visit Day to visit a class, attend an information session, and enjoy lunch with current students, faculty, and staff. If you want a comprehensive visit before choosing to apply, this is your chance! Each event takes place on a Monday from 9:00am to 1:00pm, and you can schedule an admissions interview with a member of the staff later that day if you wish. Register online here:

October 3rd
October 24th
November 7th

We hope to see you soon!