Inside Rice’s MBA Student Government Leadership Summit
Top-notch MBA programs aren’t just about coursework; they’re about the entire experience. Classroom learning can only take you so far. Employers want more than good grades and lecture attendance. They want practical experience, and that’s why the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University recently held an MBA Student Government Leadership Summit.
The event, which took place the weekend of Nov. 17th and 18th, welcomed student government leaders from top MBA programs around the country. Its goal was to address leadership challenges and best practices through presentations, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities and nationally recognized speakers. Featured speakers at the summit included Jay Steinfield, the founder and CEO of Blinds.com; Annise Parker, senior VP and CSO at Neighborhood Centers Inc.; Todd Dewett, president of TVA Inc.; and Dorit Donoviel, director of the Biomedical Innovation Laboratory.
Some participating students live-tweeted during the course of the summit, sharing takeaways from the various speakers’ presentations:
But the summit wasn’t just about the notable speakers; it was an entire experience that touched every participant in some way. To get an idea of what it was like to attend, we spoke to a few students and an administrator to get their insight.
Attending the MBA Student Government Leadership Summit (SGLS)
Here’s what a few attendees had to say about the MBA SGLS.
“The MBA SGLS consolidated issues and success between different programs, showcasing that the attending programs face similar issues,” explained Christopher Cerutti, an MBA student from Mays Business School. “It provided a place to exchange ideas and consult with our peers.” He went on to say that the summit was helpful in driving student government forward and helping each school keep up with the ever-changing landscape of MBA programs. “Lastly, the guest speakers provided priceless knowledge that went well beyond professional development,” he added. “They alone were worth the experience.”
Nancy Gimbel, assistant dean of student engagement at the Scheller College of Business and one of the administrators at the event, was surprised to see benefits of the event extend well beyond participating students.
“I knew this would be an incredible event for our MBA student leaders but I didn’t anticipate how helpful it would be for me,” Gimbel said. “The MBA program staff who attended spent the whole conference listening to great ideas from students, discussing common challenges and sharing student engagement best practices. I’ve scheduled follow-up meetings with several staff I met at the conference to continue idea sharing and networking. We would love to attend next year if this becomes an annual event.”
Finally, I spoke with MBA student Daran Gaus, president of the Jones Student Association, over email to get his in-depth take on the summit.
What was the most valuable thing that you felt students learned at the summit?
“Despite broad differences in structure, size, curriculum and student body composition, at the end of the day we all run into the same challenges. We are all searching to improve the student experience, improve learning, increase alumni engagement, foster an inclusive environment and prepare our students for industry success. With that in mind, it was clear that many programs already have creative solutions in place for many of these issues, and sharing best practices served as an excellent medium for idea development for each program in attendance.”
What was the most surprising part of the summit?
“The high degree of collaboration across programs was amazing. On some level, each program is competing for a high place in the rankings. It was incredible to see everyone set that aside and make thoughtful and tangible inputs to help each other develop ideas.”
What would you tell a future MBA student who is considering joining the MBA Student Government?
“Student government is unique in that it is one of the few student organizations that affects the entire student body. As a result, student government leaders have the opportunity to make a large-scale contribution to improving their programs. There are many ways to give back to one’s school during his or her MBA tenure, but I found student government to be a great avenue to affect the entire program.”
How does the summit inspire students moving forward either in the MBA program or in their career?
“The goals of the summit were to highlight best practices and improve our capacity as leaders. Our student government leaders are passionate about delivering the best MBA experience for our students, and the ability to take some great ideas back to everyone’s respective programs helps us all improve our programs. Student government is an excellent opportunity to sharpen the skills necessary to lead in the workplace after the MBA, and this conference was a great way to develop those skills.”
There’s no doubt that by the end of the weekend, every MBA in attendance walked away with a better understanding of what it means to be a leader and with the knowledge that they were not alone.