Plus Program cultivates leadership skills that corporate recruiters seek in MBA hires

AUSTIN, Texas—About 800 MBA students from The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business will interrupt regular classroom activities from March 15-16 to participate in professional development workshops and consulting projects with companies around the world.

The non-graded work is a part of McCombs Plus, an effort to cultivate skills in areas that corporate recruiters consistently rate among the most important for new managers: leadership, communications, ethics, teamwork and global awareness.

Students in the spring program will participate in a range of consulting projects, coaching sessions and opportunities for career exploration.

Putting their learning into practice, MBA students will work on team consulting projects with organizations on all seven continents. Among dozens of projects, teams will

  • Analyze NBC’s market for ways to keep young voters engaged
  • Help Austin’s South by Southwest music, film and multimedia festival increase profitability through a revised advertising strategy
  • Help Ford increase sales of the Focus in Puerto Rico
  • Collaborate with students in Cape Town to help 3M get its latest projection products into the South African educational market.

“The opportunity to impress a potential employer motivates the students to do extraordinary work and to take risks they wouldn’t take in a classroom,” says Steven Tomlinson, director of McCombs Plus.

In addition to consulting, about half of the students enroll in “Academies of Interest” to study career opportunities in areas such as entrepreneurship, marketing, real estate and corporate finance.

Students also attend workshops by some of the nation’s leading professional coaches. Motivational speaker Dr. Jack Groppel will lead a workshop on the “power of full engagement” based on his holistic approach to leadership. Janine Sagert will offer coaching sessions on achieving one’s “optimal performance state” using biofeedback and other techniques for attention management. Bill Jensen will discuss why executives should pay more heed to the concept of simplicity.

Second-year students will participate in workshops on applying improvisational theater techniques to business, overcoming the fear of cold calling and enhancing communication styles.

According to Tomlinson, Plus encourages participants to “step outside of the student mindset.”

“Most of us have achieved success by repeated use of a limited set of mental muscles, and our students are no different,” says Tomlinson. “Like all of us, they have developed habits of thought and expression that have worked well enough in the past. They are good students who know how to excel academically,” he says. “On the other hand, they aspire to executive responsibility, and executives have to be enterprising, courageous and willing to make strong choices in the face of uncertainty.”

In addition to the activities on campus, more than 290 McCombs MBA students will be abroad this spring on study tours as a part of Plus Global.

For more information contact: Steven Tomlinson, 512-471-5654, or J.B. Bird, McCombs School of Business, 512-471-3314.