Chapel Hill: December 2012

Building on campus

Recap of the MBA@UNC Global Immersion in Chapel Hill, NC., December 13-16, 2012

In December 2012, MBA@UNC students, faculty and staff gathered in Chapel Hill for the final MBA@UNC Global Immersion of 2012. This course, “Developing Leaders for a Complex World,” featured classes with UNC Kenan-Flagler professors and several guest lecturers; leadership development sessions with the Kenan-Flagler career management & leadership development staff; and a keynote from Gen. George Casey (Ret.), former chief of staff of the U.S. Army, on how to lead in a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA) environment.

Before many of the students arrived in Chapel Hill, one of our students, Ana-Laura Diaz (MBA ’13), received a surprise when her boyfriend proposed in front of the Old Well!

Like our previous Global Immersions, students and faculty enjoyed a welcome reception to kick off the weekend. The MBA@UNC leadership team, including MBA@UNC Associate Dean Doug Shackelford and Susan Cates, executive director, addressed the students, staff and faculty in attendance.

To begin the academic sessions on Friday morning, UNC Kenan-Flagler Dean Jim Dean addressed students and discussed the growth of the program and where it is going in the near future.

The first class of the weekend, led by Jeffrey Edwards, Belk Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behavior at UNC Kenan-Flagler, focused on ethics in the workplace and how to apply moral reasoning in complex business situations. After the class session and leadership development sessions Friday morning, students enjoyed lunch at the beautiful DuBose House at the Rizzo Conference Center.

In the afternoon, students were divided into class sessions with Professor Edwards, Susan Cates, Shawnice Meador and Jim Shanley. While Professor Edwards continued to focus on ethics, Susan Cates' class was on leadership assessment. Shawnice Meador and Jim Shanley hosted a class to discuss derailers and success in the workplace. To cap off the first full day of the Immersion, our students enjoyed a dinner reception where they were able to further develop their relationships and friendships.

Saturday morning featured class sessions presented by UNC Kenan-Flagler professors Dave Roberts, Alison Fragale and Dave Hofmann.

Professor Fragale's first class of the day was on negotiating skills, and students were given the chance to practice their own skills and receive critiques from their classmates. Dave Roberts' classes focused on persuasion and influence in the workplace. In the class, students learned how to influence the right stakeholders in a company to push forward new ideas and initiatives. Students also participated in group and partner activities to work on their proposal and communication skills.

Professor Hofmann’s classes were called “Strategic Decision-Making” and “Effective Team Dynamics.” “Strategic Decision-Making” examined case studies to explore decision-making approaches in business environments. In “Effective Team Dynamics,” Hofmann focused in strategies for successful team development.

During lunch, General Casey delivered a keynote address on how to lead in a VUCA environment. Throughout his talk, General Casey pulled from personal experiences from his 41 years in the military. He offered insight into how students can lead within their organizations despite competitive and ever-changing workplace environments.

General Casey

After General Casey's keynote, all 177 students gathered in front of the DuBose House for a group photo. We got some great shots, however it was much more difficult than last year's Chapel Hill Immersion, where we had 44 students.



In the afternoon, Professors Roberts and Hofmann held the second run of their sessions, while Dorie Clark, CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and a noted Forbes contributor, held a class on crisis communication that received rave reviews, and several students took to Twitter to express their enthusiasm. In class, students received training on how to communicate effectively—both internally and externally—while coping with negative situations within their organization.

Once Professor Roberts, Professor Fragale and Ms. Clark had wrapped up their afternoon classes, students went to the main Chapel Hill campus for a visit to the Carolina Basketball Hall of Fame with a guided campus tour by Doug Shackelford.

Sunday, the final day of the Immersion, featured several class sessions held by Professor Fragale, Professor Hofmann, Peter Romanella and Bauback Yeganeh. Professors Fragale and Hofmann’s classes were the same as their previous classes, while Peter Romanella led a session entitled “Performing Under Pressure” and Bauback Yeganeh's class was called “Mindfulness.”

After the morning class sessions came to a close, Susan Cates and Doug Shackelford joined students for a town hall meeting, where the students engaged in an open discussion and provided their feedback and thoughts about the program and their own experiences.

Following the town hall, students split up one more time for their last sessions of the weekend. Many of the students went to their leadership coaching sessions, while Steve Jones, dean emeritus at UNC Kenan-Flagler, led a class on “Transformational Change.”

You can get a further recap of the weekend by checking out our photo album on Facebook. You can also read Ana-Laura Diaz's post on the Chapel Hill Immersion weekend, and how the experience continued her love of the “Carolina Way.”