My three days of immersion in business school programs started in Tallahassee at the invitation of Florida A&M University to participate in its School of Business and Industry's Forum Series. The forum brings in about 15 CEOs a the year to talk about the state of their industries, and even more importantly to spend time with students. Over the past few years, students have had the opportunity to meet CEOs of GM, Caterpillar, GE and Hewlett-Packard.
Hudson Nwakanma, professor of marketing and director of academics at FAMU, says that the forums are just one way the school seeks to "develop a conscious competence" in its 1,400 business school students.
Academics, business sophistication and internships are the three components of FAMU's five-year Professional MBA program. The academic component emphasizes technical skills and developing thought processes: Every student, regardless of emphasis, is required to take 15 hours of accounting courses, two management engineering courses and another two courses in physics ?-- "to develop abstract and critical thinking processes."
Business sophistication classes teach oral and written communication skills, the ability to navigate the business environment, business etiquette and leadership skills. The program's three required internships allow students to put the academic and business sophistication components into practice.
It's no wonder that FAMU's business school grads are highly sought-after. I was impressed. First off, the students seemed mature beyond their years, perhaps because they were all dressed so professionally. They were polished and poised, and they asked challenging questions that showed that they had thoroughly researched the publishing industry. And, of course, they all asked for my business card.
The ability to network is a necessity for new MBAs, and many business schools are no longer leaving the development of this skill to chance. I learned that on my visit to Florida State University, where I attended a two-day real estate conference, after my visit to FAMU.
Florida Trend was one of the sponsors of the event that brought together real estate professionals and students to talk about emerging trends and issues facing the real estate industry and focused on factors affecting markets in the Southeastern U.S. It was a great opportunity for students to meet and mingle with potential employers.
The event was a big success: The organizers -- FSU's Real Estate Research Center, Real Estate Network and Real Estate Society -- had to turn away many people who wanted to attend, according to Dean Gatzlaff, Real Estate Department chair. And I heard from several employers who were there to meet and interview students that they were favorably impressed.
Over the past few years I've been equally impressed with business students at the University of Central Florida and the University of Miami, and I know that other Florida business schools are helping their students gain both knowledge and know-how.
Equipping our students for leadership roles will serve all of us in the years to come. And developing a "conscious competence" is a goal that we can all aspire to achieve in 2006 and beyond.You can reach Lynda Keever at LKeever@floridatrend.com