Human Resources



The Smith Leadership Academy was a great experience to learn a lot of the skills we as staff only “hear about” from students – including marketing, management, finance, and operations. Having these courses taught by our world-renowned Smith faculty – such as P.K. Kannan, Joe Bailey, Alex Triantis, and Curt Grimm was just icing on the cake! In terms of my fellow SLA classmates, I met staff I would not have had the opportunity to meet doing routine Smith business – such as Evan Riddle, Ashlee Kerkhoff, and Kathryn Duffy.

The Action Learning Project (ALP) assigned to each team let us not only tackle a challenge using our new project management skills, but also put some of our creative ideas into place to solve real issues being faced by the Smith School – such as addressing challenges in the MS program, improving communication within the school, and enhancing community among staff. It’s nice to hear about practices and programs currently in place, such as the “4+1” concept in the MS Program, and say, “oh, that was our idea in my team’s Leadership ALP”!


During my time in the UMD-Smith Leadership Academy, I had the opportunity to develop relationships with staff from various departments around the Smith School. These relationships have enhanced my ability to work effectively across departments and feel a stronger sense of community with my colleagues. I am so grateful for my experience in the Leadership Academy, and for the bonds I built during my time in it.


The Leadership Academy was a great experience. The aspect I found most rewarding was five professionals from dissimilar backgrounds were put together to tackle a problem. It was fascinating to watch the group grow together, become a team and present a solution to the problem given them.


Leadership Academy taught me so much about my co-workers, how they operate and what their passions are. In my role, I get to interact with the majority of our staff, but very rarely get the opportunity to really work with them. Leadership Academy gave me this opportunity to learn from and with my cohort, and I am forever grateful for the meaningful relationships I have been able to build.


The Leadership Academy has made a dramatic difference in my life. Not only did I learn much more about the Smith School of Business I learned more about myself. Throughout my career I have gotten used to being a team of one. Leadership Academy helped me learn to improve my ability to work within a team and communicate. The breadth of knowledge and interactivity of the instructors was amazing. The best part for myself was the bond that was created within my team and cohort.


Overall, the program conditioned me to be more efficient and effective in responding to and working with Smith School units outside my department, Marketing Communications. Engaging with colleagues from different units sharpened my awareness of their processes and challenges. This dynamic was fueled by the strategic insight to negotiating, leadership and collaborative problem solving from Smith faculty facilitators. Beyond equipping me to be a more effective Smith-team member, the experience undoubtedly steeled me to work more effectively with external counterparts in the PR and media fields.


The Leadership Academy provides a great opportunity to learn from some of the top faculty at the Smith School. I still apply P.K. Kannan's lesson of making sure to have the essentials right before adding "bells and whistles" during program development. In addition to the faculty, my cohort members all shared unique perspectives that broadened my views as a professional in higher education.


The Smith Leadership Academy was an amazing experience! To be able to learn from the best faculty and network with other young professionals within the school made this opportunity so worthwhile. As we completed our Action Learning Project (ALP), it was wonderful to see how well we worked as a team and utilized our strengths. The relationships that developed are ones that I will continue to nurture throughout my career.


Leadership Academy: The perfect example of synergy, where the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. It was a time of intense professional and personal development. You have access to the best faculty, and work with teams derived of people from other departments, all with different skills and unique talents. You get to realize your real potential, work with wonderful people and projects are about real issues! Amazing experience!


While Leadership Academy itself was a great experience, I realized I needed a deeper dive into the content - especially the courses I never had as an English undergrad. I was also more than slightly shocked to learn that I found Finance so interesting! It made me realize I was ready to pursue an MBA (here at Smith, of course), and I am so, so happy with that decision.


It was an awesome experience in the Leadership Academy.  I have learned great lessons from the best faculty at the Smith School. During the class I discovered the talent and strength from my colleagues which I would not otherwise since we work in different departments. It made me appreciate more about them and their work.  Through this experience I have gained confidence in public speaking and I am glad that I had this opportunity.


Leadership Academy helped me grow as a Smith School professional. Instead of being absorbed into my department's silo, I was able to make new connections throughout the building and across campus which continue to serve me today.

Application Process

Submission Deadlines

Application materials should be submitted to the Office of Human Resources & Organizational Effectiveness (VMH 2516K) no later than August 18, 2016 at 5 p.m.

Please submit materials physically or via e-mail to: Please ensure that the documents are scanned to show all necessary signatures.

Application Materials

Supervisor’s nomination and strong letter of support

The supervisor and/or senior leader’s letter of support should be in Microsoft Word format and include the following:

  • A strong recommendation for your staff member's participation
  • A description of how your staff member will add value to the departmental unit or college
  • High commitment to the Robert H. Smith School of Business, its purpose and values

Official application to include a written statement of interest from the employee (500 words or less)

The written statement of interest must include the following:

  • A description of how your participation will add value to the department, division or college, and the university
  • A description of how the academy will add value to your professional endeavors
  • A description of your current and past experiences along with your significant professional accomplishments
  • Attach resume with official application

Official Application Form.

Robert H. Smith School of Business Employees Only:

  1. Verify with your supervisor that you are eligible to participate in the UMD-Smith Leadership Academy (See Eligibility Criteria)
  2. Complete and submit application materials by the application deadline to Smith School Human Resources at For questions, contact
  3. Application must be completed and signed by applicant, supervisor and/or senior leader
  4. The Leadership Academy Selection Committee will review applications and make participant selections based on selection criteria.

We Are Smith: Sarah Kroncke

Sarah brings Wall Street to College Park. Sarah Kroncke, MBA '00 uses her investment banking experience to manage both the Mayer and Senbet Funds. They have beaten the S&P 500 nearly every year since inception, and 75 percent of the undergraduates who are fortunate to learn from her are placed on Wall Street.


Am I eligible to apply for the program if my one-year anniversary with the school is after the application deadline but before the start of the program?

Applicants must have completed their one-year anniversary with the school before the application deadline.

How often will this program be offered?

For the 2016-17 school year, the program is being offered once during the school year. It is not running during the summer term.

Is it possible for an employee and his/her supervisor to attend in the same cohort?

It is possible for an employee and his/her supervisor to participant in the same cohort if both participants are comfortable with this arrangement. Given the value of applying the learning to personal experience inside the classroom and actively participating in class discussions, some participants may feel most comfortable participating in a cohort separate from a colleague with whom they work closely.

After completion of the program, what are the outcomes? What does it signify?

The Leadership Academy provides an opportunity to invest in an individual’s personal and professional development. Participants completing the program achieve a more holistic perspective on UMCP and how their roles fit into the broader mission and business of the university. Knowledge, skills and networks developed over the course of the program allow participants to not only be more effective in their roles but also to make their day-to-day work experience more enriching.

Will I receive a certificate for completing the program?

Yes, you will receive a certification of completion from the Smith Office of Executive Programs.

Could you have recommendations from both your supervisor and a senior leader?

Yes, you may have two recommendations, though it’s not required. The quality and strength of the supervisor recommendation(s) are important factors in the selection criteria.

Who is serving on the selection committee?

The selection committee is comprised of both senior staff and faculty members and the selection process is facilitated by Smith Human Resources. The application pool and the selection process discussions are kept confidential within the committee.

How much time should participants expect to dedicate to their Action Learning Projects throughout the program?

Approximately 3-5 hours per week.

How big is the cohort?

The cohort can be anywhere from 15-25 participants.

Will there be pre-reading and other prep work?

Yes, each class will have articles and/or chapters assigned as pre-reading in order to allow participants to make the most of their time in the classroom by participating in discussion and applying concepts during in-class exercises. Pre-reading allows more content to be covered in the program, allows participants to apply new concepts to projects and exercises during the program, helping to create a more applied and integrated learning experience. Participants should expect to spend about 2-3 hours on pre-readings and pre-work for each class day.

Does the curriculum take into account that people come from all different backgrounds, not just business?

Yes, participants come from a range of professional and educational backgrounds. Where possible, faculty tailor the curriculum to the university and incorporate the experiences of participants into the class. Small group discussions and team exercises allow for a valuable exchange of ideas and allow participants to contribute based on their experiences and learn from each other.

Was this program modeled after a program at another school?

This program was modeled after Smith School executive education programs with Fortune 500 clients. Our programs incorporate lectures, case studies, hands-on exercises and an experiential Action Learning Project in order to integrate real-world experiences, facilitate learning through a variety of modes including learning by doing, and allow participants to apply their learning to real and immediate business challenges.


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