Yale SOM Launches Pre-MBA Leadership Program
For two weeks in June, forty-one college students experienced a slice of life as an MBA student, taking part in some of the same courses and activities that greet first years at the Yale School of Management. The group participated in the inaugural Pre-MBA Leadership Program, an initiative aimed at developing the leadership potential of underrepresented minority students and helping them gain a better understanding of the benefits of a management education.
The students arrived on campus on June 14, and were immediately launched into the heart of the Yale integrated MBA curriculum. Connie Bagley, professor in the practice of law and management, provided the group with a three-hour version of State & Society, one of the schoolís nine Organizational Perspectives for first year students, which examines the intersection of business, government, and society. In the following days, top faculty took students through ten SOM courses, complete with long reading lists, projects, and the familiar MBA fear of cold-calling.
But coursework was just one facet of the program. Students participated in leadership development exercises, learned how to better market themselves to prospective employers, met with SOM alumni, and created business plans to fill an empty storefront on New Havenís Audubon Street. "This was a real approximation of what itís like for first-year students here. In addition to the academic rigor, we sought to offer them the kind of warm and diverse community experience that defines our culture at SOM," said Heidi Brooks, a lecturer in organizational behavior and one of the programís faculty directors. "We didnít go easy on anyone. There was a ton of work, and students tackled it with enthusiasm and commitment."
Brooks developed the program with James Baron, William S. Beinecke Professor of Management, and several SOM faculty, staff, and second-year students. The central thrust of the program is to provide students who otherwise might not apply to SOM ó or business schools in general ó an opportunity to judge the benefits of management education firsthand. Program participants were recruited from a variety of colleges and universities around the country with particular emphasis on historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions and tribal colleges. Brooks said that many students who would make great managers and leaders arenít exposed to management education as a possible pathway to impact across their careers. And while it would be an added benefit if some of the students apply to SOM, this isnít the point of the program.
"These were good students and I am sure that we would be happy to see some of them matriculate eventually, but their application to SOM was not the point. We donít view this as a recruiting program, but as a broader public service," she said. "SOMís mission is to educate leaders for business and society, and this program is part of our leadership commitment as broadly engaged management educators. Our plan is to identify potential leaders and help start them on their way. The program was a successful and enjoyable experience for the students, faculty and staff involved so we hope to continue to offer it."