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OCTOBER 2010        RSSPrint PrintEller College on Facebook FacebookPrint Twitter     

Executive Briefing Sessions Test MBA Business Communication Skills

Kathleen Perkins, Allesondra Gronager, and Mollie Schane
OpticsReport CEO Kathleen Perkins (left) hosts an
executive briefing session with first-year Eller MBA
students Allesondra Gronager and Mollie Schane.

Photo by Thomas Veneklasen.

By Liz Warren-Pederson

First-year Eller MBA students — now at the mid-point of their initial semester in the program — participated in high-stakes executive briefings as part of an in-class simulation designed to test their managerial communication skills.

The kicker? They presented to high-profile working executives.

David Goldstein (president, Diamond Ventures), Kathleen Perkins (CEO, OpticsReport), Tom Miller (Action Coach Solutions), and Susan Butler (CEO, Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders) all volunteered their time to interact directly with the students during the October 12 presentations, followed by a networking lunch.

“Our assignment was to persuade an executive, Kathleen Perkins, to sign off on a product launch,” explained Allesondra Gronager (MBA ’12). She and teammate Mollie Schane have spent the semester studying Nike as part of their business communication class.

“We all role-played in the briefing,” Schane said. “Ally was a marketing executive and I was a sales executive. Kathleen played our VP of marketing.”

“Mollie and I requested a $40 million marketing campaign budget for Nike’s newly-launched running shoes, the Lunarglides+2,” Gronager said.

To prep for their presentations, senior lecturer Diza Sauers had the students analyze past presentations, some successful and others not. “Seeing others in the same situation gave me a better perspective of what would be expected of me,” Gronager said.

Name, name, name, and Susan Butler
Eller MBA students Jennifer Wood, Hyo-mi Kim, and
Bill Ruth meet with pioneering executive Susan
Butler (right).

Photo by Thomas Veneklasen.

“Diza films all of our presentations,” Schane said. “We can see how we come across to others during a presentation and learn from it. What we see is much different than we expected.”

“At my old job I used to meet with senior managers, and this exercise was a similar format,” Gronager said. “When you meet executives, you need to respect that they have very little time and get your point across quickly but effectively.”

“As future business leaders, MBA students must know how to work a room and quickly get the important things across in meetings,” Schane said. “As Diza said, it is important to BLOT: Bottom Line on Top.”

“Next semester we will have meetings like this with our field project clients,” Gronager added. “It’s better to mess up in an exercise than in the real world, which is why assignments like this are so necessary!”

The Eller College offers four distinct MBA programs: Full-Time (including Dual Degree option), Evening, Executive, and Accelerated.

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