New Full-Time MBA students at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during their orientation: a chance to ask questions of Eli Broad himself as he joined them virtually by Skype. Later in the week, they had the opportunity to put his advice regarding giving back into practice through several community service projects.
A new feature of orientation week was reading and discussing The Art of Being Unreasonable, written by college namesake Eli Broad. During the week, students discovered that they would have an opportunity to conference virtually with Broad and personally ask questions of the businessman and philanthropist. The new Full-Time MBA class of 2015 is the first class anywhere across the college to have such an opportunity.
Sanjay Gupta, associate dean for MBA and professional master’s programs, facilitated a brief discussion about some of the themes in Broad’s book, and then the floor was opened for students to ask questions of Broad. The conversation covered such ground as advice for business success, the role of education, Broad’s own journey, and the role of giving back.
“To get even a few minutes on a billionaire’s calendar is understandably difficult,” said Wayne Hutchison, director of academic programs and student services for the Full-Time MBA Program. “Our students had an extraordinary opportunity to learn about our college’s namesake and connect with the man behind the success. This experience can inform their studies and professional development throughout the MBA program.”
Later in orientation week, students had the opportunity to act on Broad’s advice regarding giving back to the community, as a new service initiative took them to the Old Town neighborhood of Lansing and to the Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB). In one morning, the class donated 200 hours of service to the Old Town Commercial Association and the food bank, working on curb appeal in the Old Town neighborhood of Lansing and cleaning, sorting, and preparing donations for shipment at the GLFB.
This one-morning event was the start of an initiative in which some MBA students will volunteer an hour or two per week (50–100 hours per year) to apply their skills to local needs – anything from helping to increase patronage at Old Town businesses to assisting the Greater Lansing Food Bank in optimizing its supply chain. In effect, the volunteer program will provide students the opportunity to apply the advanced business skills they are developing while benefiting the community by providing social impact consulting services.
“We are building on our existing culture of service to help our incoming students develop an understanding of how they can give back and what making a difference can mean for people – to see that measurable impact of an investment in the community and begin to expand their thinking,” said Hutchison.
The Full-Time MBA orientation week also featured training in financial analysis, time management, community resources, business ethics, and teamwork/organization.