On July 24, 2014, 41 executives from EMBA Cohort 13 graduated from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, in a ceremony attended by more than 300 family, friends and faculty and staff of the Smith School at the university’s Riggs Alumni Center.
Dean Alex Triantis congratulated the cohort on their accomplishments and commented on the strong positive impression the group had left on the faculty who taught them. “I thought I’d share with you what we’ve gained out of this experience – what the faculty and staff of the Smith School have learned and experienced by having you here,” he said.
One faculty member shared: “I really love teaching the EMBAs … they have seen so much that they can appreciate why it makes sense to develop frameworks and theories to help make sense of some future problem they are sure to face. This willingness to think about problems at a higher level is what makes the discussions we have in class so enriching, for them but also very much for me. As a former colleague of mine used to say (paraphrasing), MBA students are looking for more hats while the great thing about teaching EMBAs is that they've got too many hats and what they really need -- and what they know they need -- is a hat rack.”
Student speaker Maurice Garland, regional sales director for Sanofi, spoke movingly about his early life in inner-city Baltimore and the positive influence of his mother. He credited her inspiration with helping him “achieve the impossible” – graduating with an EMBA.
“Achieving the impossible takes two things that we learned in this program. A maniacal focus on the truth, based on the data and the facts. And collaboration. Achieving the impossible takes a team,” said Garland. He urged his classmates to do more than pursue influential, high-paying roles in their organizations: “We need to take what we learned here, and the talent we have, and help other people achieve their impossibilities.”
Commencement comes on the heels of an intense week-long business simulation that challenges students to incorporate all of the frameworks and insights learned during their 19-month EMBA experience to create a successful multi-national company. The game required the “Lucky 13s” to analyze and synthesize information across many disciplines in order to make wise decisions in a highly accelerated time frame.
“We instituted the simulation with the first EMBA cohort in May 2004 and it has been a success as a wrap up capstone project ever since,” says Vice Dean Joyce E. A. Russell, faculty leader of the business simulation. “It requires EMBAs to integrate all the functional content they have learned in the program in a challenging, competitive fashion. It also enables them to test out their leadership and teamwork skills under intense pressure. It’s amazing what the teams are able to accomplish — truly impressive.”
The Smith School launched its Executive MBA program in the U.S. and Beijing, China, in 2003. For more information about the Smith EMBA program, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/emba.