Leadership Education through the Weikel Speaker Series
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by Peter Wierenga
Coming into my MBA education at the Wisconsin School of Business, I had high expectations for the classes I would be taking. Before entering the program, everyone I spoke with told me I would be challenged by the classes and prepared for a career in marketing research. They were absolutely right! My expectations for coursework have been completely met and exceeded. The knowledge of professors and insights brought into classroom by my peers have been outstanding. However, as mentioned, this was largely expected for an MBA program at Wisconsin's level.
While classroom education has been challenging and engaging, the opportunities for learning outside of the classroom have gone well beyond my hopes and expectations. I have been extremely impressed by the opportunities to hear from leaders in business, network with peers and companies, and participate in activities that give me hands on experience. In fact, many of these opportunities have been among the most valuable learnings of my education. A specific example that touches on a couple of these areas is the M. Keith Weikel Leadership Speaker Series.
The Weikel Series brings in leaders from a wide variety and backgrounds to provide professional advice and speak to students about their journey to success. The lectures have been thought provoking, inspiring, and often entertaining. As I look back on the series, it is apparent that there is not a single path to success. Some of our speakers started their own company while others worked up within companies, some were soft-spoken while other were very charismatic, and some had a clear vision of where they wanted to be from the start while others figured it out along the way. From what I have observed, though, there have been several common characteristics that these leaders share: action, courage, and perseverance. They were all willing to act on ideas and would not let opportunities slide by. Closely tied to that action was courage stray from the safe route and a willingness to put themselves out there.
While other business schools most-likely bring in speakers, there are two things that make the Weikel series especially valuable and unique to the Wisconsin School of Business. First, there is an calculated nature to the invited speakers. They're specifically chosen to teach of the different approaches and styles of leadership. Second, there receptions before and after the event that give the Full-Time and Evening MBAs a chance to network, discuss the speech, and share ideas. This aspect of the series perfectly encapsulates the Wisconsin School of Business's idea of "Together Forward" and provides an extremely valuable opportunity for joint learning. I have one semester and only a few Weikel speakers left to hear but cannot wait to find out what I will learn!