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Bernard Godley, EMP87, presenting "Teamwork in the Operating Room" for the Business Card Series
Bernard Godley, EMP87, presenting “Teamwork in the Operating Room” for the Business Card Series

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other – John F. Kennedy

Balancing theory and practice is a key characteristic of the EMBA program at Kellogg. My classmates in the Executive MBA program are high-level executives with substantial experience in management and come from Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, public and nonprofit organizations. Throughout the course of a year, we have amazing speakers and faculty come in to speak to us. Randy Lewis, Senior VP at Walgreens, spoke about leadership and intrepreneurship.  He shared with us how he identified an opportunity to integrate people with disabilities in Walgreens distribution centers, a win-win proposition for the company and the community. Professor Jamie Jones from the Social Enterprise at Kellogg (SEEK) department also gave an exciting presentation on market-based models for social impact, highlighting socially responsible businesses, like Patagonia.

As EMBA students and because of our diverse experiences, we have so much to share with each other and to learn from one another. A unique opportunity to do this outside of the classroom setting was through the Business Card Series (BCS). I had the privilege of implementing BSC within my cohort, EMP 87. BSC provided a platform for my classmates to present their work, as well as current or past professional challenges. The presentation topics were selected and content developed in relation to one or more topics covered in class. I was pleased with the level of participation and feedback from my peers. The Series became so popular that suggestions were made to invite other cohorts to attend if it coincided with times they were on campus.

Sara Baker, EMP87, presenting "Best Practices in M&A" for the Business Card Series
Sara Baker, EMP87, presenting “Best Practices in M&A” for the Business Card Series

Classmates could present in teams or individually. Doctors Bernard Godley, Julie Hughes and Richard Altieri – all physicians – spoke to us about “teamwork in the operating room.” Despite the fact that each of them represented different specialties, the take-away remained that being a good leader starts from building effective teams. Justin Poggioli shared information with us about the challenges and lessons learned from creating a new, cross-functional division in the high-technology industry. Classmates Sara Baker and Ray Ballotta presented some of the best practices in M&A. Sara, who has an HR background, shared the importance of cultural sensitivity and managing diverse global teams during times of corporate uncertainty and change, while Ray, a Partner at Deloitte, shared the rigors involved in M&A transactions in his industry. My classmates were quite impressed with the number of transactions of deals north of $500MM that he is involved in annually. Pedro Carjaval gave us insight into being at the center of a multi-conglomerate family business, and Bernard Roy, CEO of Capital Bank in Haiti, shared information on strategic crisis management, using the 2010 earthquake as an example of the leadership he demonstrated to prevent a total banking meltdown for the bank’s customers.

At the end of these presentations, one thing was clear: My classmates and I left the room feeling even more connected, knowing more about each other and inspired from having expanded our depth and breadth of business knowledge.