Wake Forest University Schools of Business faculty and staff welcomed 394 new graduate business students to campus on Aug. 26 for orientation at the Benson University Center.
Most programs experienced steady growth. The incoming Master of Science in Accountancy class has a record 141 students, representing 62% growth over last year. There are 64 full-time students in the full-time MBA Class of 2013. A total of 93 Working Professionals make up the Evening MBA Class of 2013 with 50 attending classes in Charlotte and 43 in Winston-Salem. The 96 Master of Arts in Management students started classes for their 10-month program in July.
In his welcome address, Dean of Business Steve Reinemund asked students to pledge to master the skills of character, competency and commitment. The retired chairman and CEO of PepsiCo said, “Character, Competency and Commitment are the common ingredients I have seen in leaders who have lived lives of success, and more importantly of significance.”
Character is the single most important trait in a successful leader and is more complex than honesty, said Reinemund. “Character has to be learned, it has to be practiced and it has to be proven over time. It’s tested in what I call the crucible of life.”
Competency is knowledge, experience and wisdom, according to Reinemund. He said that while character failure gets the most publicity, the largest reason for business failures over the past decade has been competency, a lack of experience and the absence of a world view. “Leaders with true competency have married their intellectual capabilities and creativity with experience and wisdom, creating great business results.”
Commitment is “the fire in the belly, the goal line orientation and the drive to reach results.” Reinemund shared a story of a former student who secured her dream job at one of the world’s top advertising agencies during the economy’s “darkest days” when hundreds in the field were losing their jobs. “She knew what she wanted and she just stayed on it until she got it,” he said while encouraging students to immediately get to work on developing career goals and exploring various vocations.
“You can be successful if you decide that you are going to put the effort in to make it happen. My challenge to you is to seriously think about this idea of character, competency commitment,” Reinemund said. He then asked students to sign a class poster, pledging to demonstrate and master the 3Cs. After doing so, each student received a business card holder engraved with the words “character, competency and commitment.”
The theme continued when keynote speaker, Dr. Christopher B. Howard, President of Hampden-Sydney College, presented his “Eight Ways to Accelerate your Leadership Odyssey.”
Howard is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He earned a Doctorate in politics as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and has an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School. At the Academy, he earned the Campbell Award, the highest academic award in the country presented to a senior football player.
Howard referenced his football experience to explain how leaders, like athletes must be self-aware. He said players look at game film, review mistakes and anticipate and “auto-correct” to avoid errors in the future.
Leaders must also be contextually aware, according to Howard. Leaders need to operate differently depending on the situation, he said, pointing out that you can’t act like a drill instructor while addressing a team of brain surgeons during an operation. “The very thing that makes us successful in one environment may cause us to crash and burn in another environment,” he said.
Howard says leaders are also lifelong students; effective, efficient communicators; empathetic; accountable and courageous. Students listened attentively as he shared a story of how he had to eject from the cockpit of a fighter jet to survive a crash during pilot school. An eight week investigation proved that he did the right thing in the situation and was cleared to fly again. Howard overcame his fear and found the courage to return to the cockpit. “I thought if I don’t fly again that’s cool, because the last time I did a nearly died, but then I thought of all of the people who sacrificed so I could be in that cockpit,” he said. “Seven months later, I was an U.S. Air Force pilot. Be courageous.”
Howard said it is important for today’s leaders to develop the characteristics and strengths that he and Dean Reinemund illustrated. “You are either in a storm, just leaving a storm or headed into a storm…that’s the role of a leader in 2011,” said Howard.
Graduate business student orientation continued at Wake Forest on Aug. 26 and 27 with workshops on diversity and inclusion, teambuilding activities, and faculty panel discussions.
In addition to its graduate programs, the Wake Forest University Schools of Business offer undergraduate programs in finance, accounting, mathematical business, and business and enterprise management. Wake Forest business programs are consistently ranked among the world’s best in surveys by U.S. News & World Report, Business Week, the Economist, Forbes, and the Financial Times. Wake Forest MBAs who sat for Six Sigma certification exams in 2011 had a 100% pass rate and Wake Forest accountancy graduates have earned the highest passing rate on the CPA exam for five of the past six years.