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February 2009
A Place of Ideas
By Janet Kropinak
    Focusing leadership development around the 3Cs—competence, character and commitment to community, the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte helps individuals prepare for their future success by sharpening their judgment and heightening their awareness of management realities.

     At the helm of the school is Dean Terry Broderick who is working hard to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders by engaging the faculty, students and community and creating a place of ideas where transformational experiences with real-world applications happen.

 

The McColl Advantage

     When Terry Broderick retired from his position as CEO of Royal & SunAlliance in 2002, he continued his involvement with the McColl School of Business as a member of Queens’ board of trustees, an executive in residence and professional coach.

     In early 2005, Queens’ President Pamela Davies (and former McColl School dean) asked Broderick to serve as interim dean while they conducted a national search for a permanent replacement. Five months later, Broderick was named dean of the McColl School, succeeding Peter Browning.

     “I’ve been so energized by the opportunities this position has allowed me. I feel very privileged to be involved in something so important, where I am affecting and enriching the lives of those around me,” exclaims Broderick. “Queens has a rich history and a dynamic president who is really helping carry the business school forward.”

     Davies’ respect for Broderick is shared. On naming him dean she remarked: “Terry’s leadership and connections with the local and regional business community will help bring us to new heights.”

     Broderick is equally quick to praise the school’s faculty and staff for the success the McColl School has seen over the last few years. “We are fortunate to have a faculty and staff of extraordinary individuals who are available, accessible and approachable to students,” he says.

     The McColl School has worked hard over the years to create a stimulating learning climate through talented program participants and a well-qualified and skilled faculty. Broderick explains that the McColl School has been fortunate, but also deliberate, in attracting faculty who are passionate about developing people to their fullest potential as leaders in their organizations.

     “Our professors focus on teaching first. That means they are dedicated to advancing your career, not theirs,” Broderick explains. “In every class discussion you find lively debates, challenging questions, and unique insights.”

     Real business experience is a mandatory requirement for all McColl faculty members.    “One responsibility of our faculty is to draw upon their real life business experience and marry that with the theoretical—creating a broader perspective for the students,” comments Broderick.

     With a strong faculty in place, Broderick says the other piece to the puzzle is finding the right students. The McColl School seeks persons of extraordinary energy and ability who, because of their intellect and character, will attain positions of leadership and high responsibility in the world of commerce and practical affairs.

     Because nearly 90 percent of McColl’s graduate students are currently employed, Broderick explains, “We’ve done everything in our power to make the program accessible to business folks looking to achieve a higher degree.”

 

The Degrees

     The graduate programs at the McColl School include the Professional MBA (PMBA), Executive MBA (EMBA), and the recently created Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD).

     The PMBA program has a strong commitment and unique approach to leadership development which includes access to national and community leaders through the Leaders in Action Lecture Series and Executives in Residence program. Students also explore their own leadership philosophy through individualized professional coaching and a community leadership assignment.

     Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Tri Tiet says it was the small and intimate learning environment the McColl School offered that sold him on the PMBA program.

     The flexible program is two to four years, depending upon the number of credit hours completed each term. Program start dates are January, May, and September with courses meeting one evening per week.

     Although he hasn’t obtained his degree just yet, Tiet is already reaping the rewards from his decision: “I’ve been exposed to the 3Cs and I’ve learned that this program is more than just a degree—it has changed my outlook and thinking about life, my surrounding, and society.”

     The McColl Executive MBA program was initiated in 1990 and is the only EMBA program in the Charlotte region. From the start, the program has aimed to deliver a dynamic and practical development experience for mid to senior level managers.

     Rod Rauch, COO of Price Brothers, Inc., a Charlotte-based plumbing contractor, recalls his decision to enter the EMBA program: “I liked the fact that we would be studying case studies of actual ‘real world’ events, and in a class of individuals from all different professions that would allow me to learn from their experiences as well.” He adds: “It also made a difference to me that I would be working alongside individuals who had jobs would be experiencing the same challenges on many fronts while going back to school.”

     Participants complete the EMBA 20-month program with a class of professionals with parallel levels of responsibility and experience. The one-day-a-week class schedule is designed to maximize time with faculty and peers while minimizing time away from work and personal obligations.

     “I have taken a much deeper look at myself and what I can do more effectively in my job,” comments Rauch. “With the EMBA program you are not learning items for a test or for one semester, you are taking these lessons with you for life.”

     And for those worried the benefits don’t outweigh the cost, he answers quickly: “Do it. Make the financial and time sacrifices necessary. The benefits will far exceed your expectations.”

     “In particular, the faculty and staff,” Rauch continues. “These are individuals who have experienced success and accomplishments in the corporate world that have the incredible ability to share from their backgrounds while challenging you to expand your boundaries.”

     Another program offering, the McColl Master of Science in Organization Development initiated more recently, develops skilled change agents dedicated to improving personal and organizational performance through the utilization of behavioral science interventions in planned change efforts. The MSOD is a 36-credit hour program designed for working professionals who are interested in designing and leading organizational change.

     The MSOD curriculum is particularly unique because it includes an emphasis on coaching and leadership development. Students have the opportunity to graduate with an M.S. in Organization Development and a Certificate in Coaching.

     “I was seeking three things in particular from this program: academic knowledge, an opportunity to practice new skills in a controlled environment, and networking opportunities,” explains MSOD student Alan Barnhardt. “Our study of theories and leadership models has confirmed principles that I have employed and filled in gaps that I did not understand. Our assignments, our professors and our project partners allow us to experiment without fear of serious repercussions.”

     “My experience at the McColl School of Business has been terrific. The faculty has encouraged me to push my personal expectations to higher levels,” Barnhardt continues. “Our current economic times provide challenges and opportunities. The MSOD program offers one of the best opportunities to polish skills in preparation for a leadership position during the economic recovery.”

     The program is designed for the needs of working professionals and provides a flexible part-time, evening schedule. Students can finish in as little as two years, or spread their coursework across multiple semesters to accommodate personal schedules and needs.

     “There is no question that the faculty and staff at the McColl School of Business want to serve the community,” Barnhardt adds. “Their energy is infectious, their depth of knowledge vast, and their personalities open and welcoming. My investment in time and tuition is already generating healthy dividends.”

     McColl’s offerings are not limited to its degree programs. Complimentary departments include the Executive Leadership Institute, which offers custom-designed programs to businesses to meet specific needs that integrate leadership development with a solid foundation of business fundamentals.

     Another facet of the school is the Leaders in Action Lecture Series which hosts speakers who integrate business knowledge and leadership skills, focusing on competence, character and commitment to community.

     Broderick also makes mention of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle (ELC), a group of entrepreneurs who have embraced the McColl School by providing support and counsel to its leadership, students and faculty. “Its goal is to provide a link between the McColl School and the resources of the vibrant Charlotte business community,” Broderick explains.

 

The 3Cs and More

     As Broderick explains the 3Cs, he describes competence as having the necessary credentials and skills to succeed. “Competence is essential for any good leader,” he adds.

     The character component is the discovery and development of self-awareness. Part of the curriculum includes the creation of a development plan which lays out a student’s goals for themselves. To help the students achieve this, they are aligned with a coach who encourages them to find their strengths and works with them on their weaknesses.

     “If you are going to be an effective leader, you must understand character,” Broderick says simply.

     The third C is commitment to community, which Broderick views as a cornerstone to the McColl School experience. “We work very hard at engaging students to find ways to connect with the community and get involved. These experiences are so important in helping a student discover who they are,” he explains. “It’s these connections and relationships that are going to help carry them forward once a degree has been obtained.”

     Even with a strong foundation in place, Broderick is tentative about the impact of the economy. Broderick knocks on the table as he says the school hasn’t been hit by the current downturn.

     “We are very proud to say that our enrollment numbers for January were up,” he comments. “We’re seeing a lot of people coming to us to help them retool and build upon their portfolio and credentials. People are looking for ways to better prepare themselves for an uncertain economy.”

     With enrollment numbers holding strong, Broderick remains optimistic about what the future holds for the school and its students.

     “We plan to continue to add to our faculty and staff as well as grow our student base,” he comments. But he is conscious of the fact that providing students with an intimate setting is part of the appeal of The McColl School and promises this will remain true moving forward.

     Another commitment Broderick makes is to maintain the school’s accreditation, which includes the AACSB International, a distinction that less than 5 percent of the world’s business schools attain.

     Of the distinction, which the school earned in 2007, Broderick comments: “This accreditation is recognition of the continuing high quality of the McColl School programs and assures our students that they are receiving a business education that is on par with the education provided by the best business schools and programs in the world.”

     By valuing diversity in thought, collaboration, risk-taking and the freedom from traditional constraints or paradigms, the McColl School has become a place of big ideas. With international recognition, a dedicated faculty and staff, and an embracing business community, the McColl School offers students much more than a degree…a lifetime experience.

Janet Kropinak is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.
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