Back to the Future in Colonial Williamsburg

On Sunday afternoon March 3, colleagues from over 20 schools in the Southeast Region and several of the corporate sponsors from the Executive MBA Council began to arrive in Williamsburg for the beginning of a three day meeting hosted by the Mason School of Business.   These meetings are held annually and hosted by a different school in the Southeast Region as part of the Executive MBA Council events for their members.  The meeting this year broke the attendance records of past Southeast Regional meetings with over 65 participants.  The early arrival attendees participated in a Historical “Staff Ride” of the Yorktown Campaign.

Sunday evening was the official start of the meeting with an opening reception in Brinkley Commons.  Susan Hughes, Director EMBA Programs, began the evening with a warm greeting to our guests, introductions of the staff, innovations in the EMBA program here in the Mason School and an overview of the three day meeting.  As the group gathered and enjoyed the festivities, they were honored with a special guest, George Washington.  One attendee commented, “Impersonator hardly does the gentlemen justice, his commitment to embodying our first president was impressive!”

Monday brought the attendees back to the Mason School for a day of sessions.  The session topics included were “Using Data for Effective Marketing” presented by Erica Holcomb, Marketing Analyst from Emory University, Goizueta Business School and a Thunderbird case study presented by Christine Ferrell, from UNC Chapel Hill Kenan Flagler Business School.  Following there was a tour of the business school and lunch.

To open the afternoon session, Dean Pulley came in to welcome the attendees to the Mason School and share with them about what is happening in the MBA Programs here at William & Mary. The Monday afternoon session was on “Work Life Balance”, a case study written and presented by Barbara Millar, Assistant Dean, University of Virginia, Darden Business School.  This provided the attendees with an opportunity to engage in discussion about life balance and the responsibilities with recruiting and admissions, operations, international trips, curriculum, student services, faculty and many other aspects of running a successful top quality MBA program.

One of the highlights of the regional meeting was the community project for the Foundation for Hospital Art.  The project involves painting canvas pieces to create a unique mural.  The canvas pieces come ready to be painted with the objects already outlined and the pieces pre-coded with paint dots.  There were two groups working on two different paintings.   One of the groups worked on the project in the Design Studio while the others were downstairs in a classroom.   The attendees each dropped a business card in for a drawing to have the painting donated to a hospital in their local area.  The two winners were, Betty Jones, Georgia Institute of Technology and Christine Ferrell, UNC.

Monday evening activities started with an escort by the Fife and Drum to the historic King’s Arms Tavern for dinner.  This was a welcome surprise to our attendees and another taste of Colonial Williamsburg.  Following dinner there was an optional evening lantern tour.

Tuesday morning began with a presentation on “Consumer Psychology and Brand Building” presented by Professor Lisa Szkyman, Associate Marketing Professor.  The final presentation for the three day meeting was on “Leadership at UNC Kenan-Flagler” presented by Mindy Storrie, Director of Leadership Development and Sarah Perez, Executive Director, MBA for Executives.  The presentation included an opportunity for the attendees to participate in a Leadership Simulation exercise that all students at Kenan-Flagler students do as part of their Leadership Development while pursuing their MBA.

Susan Hughes closed out the meeting by thanking the attendees for being here at the Mason School for this year’s southeast regional meeting.  The guests gathered up their things, had lunch on the go and headed back to their respective schools.  Next year the meeting will be hosted by Tulane University in New Orleans.

Attendees were given an evaluation and in closing, here are just a few of the post meeting comments.

John Gresley, Associate Director of Student Services at the University of Florida, Hough Graduate School of Business shared the following post conference thoughts, “This was my fifth EMBA Council regional meeting and it did not disappoint. The opportunity to connect with colleagues and share industry insight has become something I look forward to annually. The William and Mary team did an exemplary job of arranging topics and activities that were professionally enriching and personally rewarding. The combination of George Washington and the Battle of Yorktown with practical business education conversations in spectacular Miller Hall put the FUN in cross-functional and achieved the collaborative tone I have come to expect at this meeting. Kudos to the team and a special tip of my three pointed cap to fifes and drum. This was uniquely W&M; I am glad the staff pulled out all the stops and so jealous this happens every day in your back yard.”

And others…

“I’ve been to the NE Regional meeting and it was good in terms of knowledge and networking, but this was OUTSTANDING.  Susan and team did an amazing job of integrating historic Williamsburg into the activities.  She’s the Martha Stewart of conference hosting!”

“Thank you for all the special touches that gave me a taste of Williamsburg.”

“If George Washington were around today, he would be proud of your talented leadership team!’

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Jana Allen

Jana currently serves as the Associate Director of the Executive MBA and FLEX MBA programs for the Mason School. She recently came to the Mason School after being with the Executive MBA Programs at Baylor University in Dallas, Texas and Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, respectively. She received both her BA in Communications and MA in Business Management/Leadership from Dallas Baptist University.

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