They come from many different industries. They take many different paths to become business leaders, and share different personal stories with MBA and other students at Barry University’s D. Inez Andreas School of Business. But what speakers for the Executive Leadership Forum have in common really makes the difference.
“These outside people share how they’re successful, but also expose students to the fact that it takes hard work,” said Tomislav Mandakovic, PhD, Dean of the business school. “They learn more and more about the person behind the public figure, because the speakers not only share their professional lives, but how they got there.”
Values Beyond Business Success
Students learn the importance of leadership coupled with social responsibility in the business world. Importantly, speakers also explain that graduates can achieve business success without compromising the values they learn while students at Barry University, Dean Mandakovic said.
The most recent Executive Leadership Forum in February 2016 was no exception when Joseph Roisman, Executive Vice President for Perry Ellis International, shared his story. He explained that success is possible “as long as you try, and keep a strong moral compass. That’s what I got out of it,” Dean Mandakovic says. “It shows the message of values at Barry University is realistic and up-to-date.”
How the speakers warm to the audience, interact, and share openly are among the most surprising aspects of the forum series, Dean Mandakovic said. “They don’t hide anything, and they even get emotional sometimes. For one speaker, we presented him with a picture of what he looked like when he arrived in Miami, and it was very touching.”
Determination Remains Essential
Students also learn that perseverance can pay off. Mr. Roisman is “a self made person, and was able to convey that message to the audience too,” Dean Mandakovic said. This is another reason “we need students to hear from real people, outside of teaching in the classroom.” Roisman came to the United States as a child through Operation Pedro Pan; a mass exodus of unaccompanied children from Cuba between 1960-1962 whose parents wanted their children out of the island nation’s new regime.
The Executive Leadership Forum’s unique format is designed to make the program more interactive and practical than a typical lecturer series. Speakers meet and interact with the School of Business faculty and staff during an evening reception. Next a faculty member interviews the speaker in front of an audience, followed by a question & answer session where students can comment and ask questions. During a third component, the speaker teaches a “Leadership and Advanced Management Concepts’ class in the MBA program to further elucidate themes and perspectives that arose during the forum.
Students appreciate the real-world experience and exposure they gain from the program. “I interview these students in a group at the end of their degree,” Dean Mandakovic said. “And the Executive Leadership Forum is very, very, very correlated to what they learn in the classroom.”
Now in its seventh year, the Executive Leadership Forum has also featured Juan Carlos Nunez, President of Whole Foods Market – Florida; Art Torno, Senior Vice President of American Airlines Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America; and Licenia Rojas, Vice President of American Express’ Technology Delivery Transformation Program; and many other prominent business leaders.
The speaker for the next Executive Leadership Forum in October 2016 will be announced soon.