170808_022211UW280The Tuesday February 22 Learners to Leaders networking reception, dinner, and sample MBA experience program was well attended and well received. The second annual L2L  was held in Schulze Auditorium and Opus Hall, hosted by UST’s Opus College of Business.

After a half hour networking session, Dean Christopher Puto kicked off the evening with a welcoming address to an audience that included 28 minority college juniors, seniors and recent graduates from a dozen area colleges. In his remarks the Dean addressed the commitment that  the OCB has made to excellence, and to diversity, the strong representation of African American and Hispanic faculty, and the University’s support for initiatives such as the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, which the Opus College of Business has co-sponsored in partnership with NBMBAA for more than 20 years.

I congratulated the participants on their leadership contributions thus far, and described how the L2L program was designed to provide perspective that helps high potential minorities make better informed graduate school choices. At the same time the program also provides a benchmark model for how high quality graduate programs can support development of soft skills and personal connections that maximize career success. I also reminded the participants that the same leadership attributes that brought them to this program would be a key determinant in their personal and professional success throughout their lives, and encouraged them to continue to seek opportunities that would support their development as leaders.

We then introduced an interactive discussion of Ethics and Leadership led by MBA Student Association President Kelsey Luers and Vice President of Ethics Bill Grau. This was a highly interactive session, that included real time voting on an ethical dilemma similar to the types of tough judgment calls leaders in large organizations are often called upon to make. This part of the program was highly interactive, and led to lively discussions at our table that continued on well after the exercise was complete.

Towards the end of dinner was a discussion with panelists Mavreen Ananura, a current second year UST MBA; Sandra Thomas, assistant director of admissions for the UST MBA program; and Chris Iverson, UST MBA ’05. They shared their personal professional journeys and responded to questions about how their graduate school experiences have developed their leadership abilities, and how their multi-cultural backgrounds influenced their leadership abilities and contributions.

A sample MBA class experience led by Professor Avinash Malshe explored the significance of our personal brands, and how they impact our ability to lead.

The evening closed with a greeting from UST Full-time MBA Program Director Dustin Cornwell, who thanked the participants for attending, and highlighted some of the financial support available for MBA students, including scholarships offered through partnerships between the Opus College of Business and the National Black MBA Association, and with the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. At the meeting’s close the participants had the opportunity to meet staff members from UST’s Opus College of Business, School of Law, and College of Applied Professional Sciences.

170808_022211UW278Each of the sessions provoked excellent questions from a highly engaged audience. The program’s dual objectives were clearly achieved. One, we brought value and insight on graduate education to a group that historically has been under-represented in grad schools in the Twin Cities and around the country. And two, we introduced graduate education at St. Thomas to a pool of graduate school intenders for whom St. Thomas might not previously had appeared on their radar screen. Mission accomplished!

Another benefit of the program is the opportunity it provides our current students to demonstrate their leadership and view their MBA experience through the eyes of others. We are part of what has evolved into an impressive institution, and it’s nice hearing that feedback from people outside of our program.

Thanks to all of the faculty, staff, current students, and UST MBA alumni who participated in the program. Your availability to connect with the L2L nominees, and share your personal stories, is what made the program a success.