On July 28, 2012, 41 executives from EMBA Cohort 11 celebrated the end of their 19-month journey at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. More than 350 family members, friends and members of the Smith School community joined together at the university’s Samuel Riggs Alumni Center for a recognition ceremony to honor their accomplishments.
Greg Hanifee, assistant dean of executive programs encouraged students to use the skills they learned and their strong network to make a positive difference in the workplace and the community. “Our emphasis on systems thinking, leadership assessments, coaching and action learning, I believe, provides the opportunity for all of us to learn what it takes to truly succeed in today’s volatile marketplace — sometimes you get to pick your team, sometimes you don’t,” said Hanifee. “Sometimes you have the time and capacity to do it all — many times you don’t; and you need others to reach the finish line. This is true not just in work, but also in life.”
Adored by the students, cohort director Progyan Basu addressed the class in a heartfelt salute, honoring them for their dedication and perseverance. “It seems like a long 19 months,” said Basu. “But it also seems like it was just the other day that you started. Well, which is it?” He asked. All of the students chimed in: “It depends!” If there is one thing a Smith EMBA student learns from Basu, a Tyser Teaching Fellow of Accounting, it’s that the answer is always “it depends!”
Student speaker Heath Campbell, a senior vice president at BB&T, talked about the impact the program has had on his life and how it has improved the way he thinks. “One of my favorite parts of the EMBA is that the professors are incredibly gifted and when you combine these teachings with shared experiences from our classmates/friends, the learning experience is second to none. We all entered the EMBA program in search of various and perhaps different things, but I am convinced we all left with the same a sense of family like bond and commitment to each other, we left with a sense of purpose to make a difference, and we sure had fun along the way!
“I have made numerous presentations over the years, but I have never had to battle the range of thoughts and emotions that were entering my mind while trying to deliver this speech,” said Campbell. “It is very fitting that I learned just as much from my last assignment as I did from my first.”
The students had just finished up an intense weeklong capstone business simulation project prior to their ceremony. The game, called “Marketplace,” from Innovative Learning Solutions, has strict deadlines and requires rapid decision making — it makes for a very exciting and intense final week and is always a highlight of the Smith EMBA experience.
“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. The Smith School also partners with SAIC to offer an executive MBA program for its employees. For more information about the Smith EMBA program, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/emba.