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Accenture Leadership Center Expands Beyond Business Roots to Benefit the UW-Madison Campus

by Devin Lowe Thursday, March 5, 2015

Since its founding in 2006, the Accenture Leadership Center (ALC) at the Wisconsin School of Business has served BBA students who want to develop their leadership skills. In recent years, however, the Center has expanded to reach students from across campus, even if their majors are housed outside the walls of Grainger Hall.

“We are branching out,” said Michelle Croak (BBA ’15), a student leadership consultant in the Center. “This was one of our first opportunities this semester to really get our name out there and show people what we do for the UW-Madison campus.”

Kevin Smith keynote

Students listen to the All-Campus Leadership Conference's keynote speaker Kevin Smith in Union South's Varsity Hall.

On February 22, ALC hosted a breakout session at the All-Campus Leadership Conference, a half-day event that brought together nearly 400 UW-Madison students for a day of workshops and skill development. The event gave the Center the opportunity to highlight its programs, speaker events, and case competitions that are available to all undergraduates at UW-Madison.

“The vast majority of what we offer is open to the whole campus,” said Sam Hoppen (BBA ’15), ALC’s student director. “LeaderShape is a good way to reach out because we do promote it campus-wide. We try to get people from different backgrounds to do it so that we can start to get more exposure throughout campus.”

LeaderShape is the Center’s leadership conference, which is held every August. Over six days, undergraduate students of diverse backgrounds get to embark on what Croak calls their “leadership journey.”

Another way ALC connects students across campus is through its student-led workshops that focus on using leadership skills in everyday situations. The Center’s breakout session at the conference, for example, revolved around dealing with conflict. Croak and Hoppen guided students through discovering their conflict management styles, working through a conflict simulation, and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of certain reactions to conflict.

“One of my goals when leading development sessions is always to bring in my personal experience,” said Croak. “We might be seniors here, but we’re still students and we still go through everything that our participants do. That’s always my number one goal, to give something that they can apply to their everyday lives.”

In addition to its certificates, the Center also coordinates applied learning events that provide credit toward The Compass ProgramTM, a program for first-year business students that connects new BBA students with the resources they need to be successful.

ACLC Student Coordinators

The Conference's student coordinators came from several majors and backgrounds.

“Our motto is learn, practice, lead,” said Dani Barker, the assistant director of student life for the Wisconsin BBA Program. “All of our programs and all of our events really keep that motto in mind. The leadership certificate is the culmination of those three, and with all of the requirements for the leadership certificate, you have to have experience in all three of those areas.”

ALC’s ultimate goal is to inspire students to use their leadership skills confidently in their communities and in the workplace. To achieve this, the Center teaches leadership as an action, not as a role.

“Leadership is not a title, and it shouldn’t be a title,” said Hoppen. “It’s something that you’re doing.”

To learn more about the Accenture Leadership Center, visit the program’s website.