Marriott Alumni Magazine

Winter 1989 Exchange

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interpersonal skills and allow them to apply the concepts they learn in class- for leadership preparation is closely tied to experience. Leaders are not created in an academic vacuum. Indeed, many of our students come to us already having significant leadership experience in business, community, and church. One faculty member mentioned that in his undergraduate advanced operations course fully half the students had worked full time in management or supervisory positions for such companies as American Express, Signetics, Westcon, and Novell. They were combining their academic training with significant management experience. One advantage of the Marriott School, that most people see only in terms of foreign language capability, is the mission experience a majority of our students have. To give some proof about how significant this experience is, let me quote James Fallows of U.S. News & World Report: "Language skill is the most obvious result of [the missionaries'] foreign exposure .... But [they] learn something more than language. Like most Peace Corps veterans, returned missionaries often seem to have changed when they come home. ... The former missionaries also seem deepened simply because they've had to give two years of their lives to a cause other than the advancement of their own careers. ... "The best of the Mormon missionaries...have a quiet, confident goodness that we like to think of as typically American.... I've been converted to think that their missions make America a wiser, more competitive country and certain Americans stronger, better people."5 In the Marriott School we try to add upon the experience our students bring to their course work . Our MBA curriculum includes a relatively new idea called integrative exercises. These exercises take first-year students out of the usual classroom experience for two days and cause them to work in groups, analyzing a case and presenting their recommendations to a group of faculty members. The cases require them to analyze a company from several perspectives, using disciplines as diverse as accounting and organizational behavior. Through these group exercises the students learn communication skills - both within the group and in making formal presentations-and learn to appreciate and use the strengths of other group members. Second-year students have a similar, though more involved, experience in a computer simulation exercise. The curriculum itself is also becoming more and more directed toward educating leaders. Courses covering such topics as personnel management and labor relations, ethics for management, business-government relations, management philosophy and style, managerial leadership development, and dynamics of interpersonal behavior give students a foundation for analyzing their own behavior and refining their management philosophy. Several courses in the Marriott School involve students in consulting projects as part of their course work. Kathy Buckner, assistant director of the Utah Small Business Development Center (located in the Tanner Building), relates in a National Business Employment weekly article how many Marriott School students have benefitted from their course-related consulting with small and medium-sized businesses. For example: "While earning a B.S. in finance at Brigham Young University, John Davis got to know a group of professors who were spearheading an effort to save Geneva Steel Works, a troubled USX steel plant in nearby Orem, Utah. Many of the plant's employees were interested in buying the plant under an employee stock ownership plan. John's finance skills were crucial to helping produce their feasibility study. "The project counted toward class credit, but much more important was the chance to work with an interdisciplinary team of students and professors on a vast array of management issues. As John moved on to graduate studies in organizational behavior, he stayed involved with the task force, which grew to include community leaders and managers of other local firms."6 "Lydia Chan, an MBA student from Hong Kong, found that her marketing degree carried more weight with potential employers because of the projects she'd completed for two small companies: an exhaustive study of the interactive video market for a high-tech start-up, and a report on promising target markets for a local manufacturer's products. Both companies implemented Lydia's suggestions. ... "Working as a consultant to local businesses lets you influence actual management decisions by placing you in a role typically reserved for experienced specialists at large companies."7 Beyond the academic experience, students have more opportunities to develop leadership skills at BYU than at perhaps any other university. Many choose to participate in student government and service organizations, including the Marriott School's student council. But one unique characteristic of Brigham Young University that has great impact on leadership experience is its church- related status. More than 150 congregations have been organized for student worship. These "wards" offer students many opportunities to serve, since most leadership positions are filled by the students themselves. Many of our management students, besides completing their course work, serve as presidents of priesthood quorums or service auxiliaries and gain invaluable practical experience while obtaining their degrees. Considering the quality of our students and the combination of practical experience and conceptual education they receive, the Marriott School should be producing the finest leaders in this country. And we intend to do just that. We are moving forward, in both the quality of the educational experience we offer and the resources that will help us climb the hills just ahead. Both the Marriott name and the financial support from the Marriott Foundation will be invaluable in the school's efforts to graduate ethical individuals, successful entrepreneurs, and leaders who are well prepared for an expanding global economy. Notes 1 'James Fallows, "The World Beyond Salt Lake City," U.S. News & World Report, May 2, 1988, p.67. 2 John A. Byrne, et al., "Where the Schools Aren't Doing Their Homework," Business week, November 28; 1988, p. 84. 3 Ibid. 4 John A. Byrne, et al., p. 85. 5 James Fallows, p. 6 7. 6 Kathy Buckner, "Consulting While Still in School," National Business Employment Weekly, Fall 1988 reprint, p. 1. 7 lbid. EXCHANGE 5

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