Crash introduction


Future MBAs from around the globe descended on the Gleacher Center this week for the 2008 start of the GSB's Executive MBA program. Wearing jeans and polo shirts (a few in slacks and Oxford shirts), nearly 300 new enrollees hauled rolling bags and laptotp cases through the building's lobby on Thursday, making their way to and from the day's lectures, group-study sessions, and a lunchtime talk by GSB professor Ron Burt, PhD'77, a social psychologist who studies social capital and competitive advantage.

By next week, two-thirds of the students will head home—the Executive MBA program draws students from roughly 50 countries—where they'll be based at the GSB campuses in either London or Singapore. (The rest study in Chicago.) During the program's 21-month curriculum, designed for working executives with at least ten years of professional experience, classmates from all three campuses gather and study together for four weeklong sessions. "Kick-Off Week is a chance for them to get to know each other and get their feet wet, and for the faculty to get them started in classes," said Deb Fallahay, associate program director. Some courses begin and end during Kick-Off Week; others continue when students return to their far-flung campuses.

Professor Linda Ginzel's Essentials of Effective Management is one of those all-in-a-week classes. On the agenda for Thursday afternoon's three-hour session, Ginzel announced as students filed into their seats and put up cardboard nameplates bearing appellations like Sergey, Chee Han, Yetunde, Stefan, and Vijay, was "group process and team decision-making." But before diving into the lesson plan, she offered what she called an "editorial" on working with others: "There are two ways to rise in this world," she said: step on other people, or lift them up and rise with them. The latter is much harder, Ginzel said, but "you should always leave people with the same dignity and sense of self that they had when you began the interaction. You will do better in life." And with that, she directed the class to a teamwork exercise involving a hypothetical plane crash in the Canadian subarctic and a list of survival items to rank in order of importance: among them, a flashlight, a compass, matches, snowshoes, sleeping bags, a shaving kit (with mirror), water-purification tablets, and a fifth of rum. Said Ginzel, looking at the clock at the back of the room, "You have 15 minutes."


Photo: This week the Gleacher Center hosted Kick-Off Week for the Executive MBA program.

Photo by Dan Dry.

June 27, 2008