October 1, 2007

AEM Emphasizes Leadership

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The Department of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences launched its new student leadership program with a slew of events last Thursday and Friday.
More than 30 distinguished alumni on AEM’s Business Advisory Council helped introduce the Business Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) program through a series of workshops, seminars and panels designed to usher in a new era of leadership focus for the AEM department.
“The sessions have been tremendous. The thing most encouraging for us is to watch the heavy student participation. It shows their deep interest in diversity and deep interest in getting a first-hand interchange on what business is like,” said Frank O’Connell ’65, advisory council member. “What I’ve been impressed with are the people, the caliber of the people on the panel and their relevancy to the topic.”
Among the participants were William Perez ’69, president and CEO of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., and Lewis Wirshba ’78, managing director and COO of Credit Suisse. The main event was a keynote address by Geraldine McManus ’78, managing director at Goldman Sachs.
BOLD is a new, four-year program designed not only to further the gender and racial diversity of AEM but also to enhance the leadership skills of AEM students through experience. Although elements of it existed previously, BOLD represents the first time current initiatives have been integrated and consolidated under one program
“BOLD is really a series of four years worth of programs for students over their total [time here], some of which are mandatory, others are options. This is the beginning of it,” said Prof. William Lesser, chair of the AEM department.
“We have a freshmen orientation class, AEM102, we’re offering for the first time in the spring,” Lesser said. “That’s the kickoff for the program for freshmen. Activities sophomore year are going to be options and voluntary. Third year we’re working with the Johnson School to develop courses particularly on leadership specifically for AEM students. And then the fourth year students have the option of getting a certificate in leadership from the department by going through the process of developing some programs demonstrating and implementing leadership.”
Students within the AEM department may take advantage of this new opportunity, but those outside of AEM are out of luck — the program is limited to the AEM major.
Development of BOLD was due to the combined effort of faculty, students and alumni led by Prof. Cindy Lynne van Es, AEM. AEM’s Business Advisory Council also played a key role, providing both advice and startup funds.
“I think I speak [for everyone in saying] we have been very interested in the whole development of what is now called the BOLD program from the very beginning, the development of leadership and diversity and expanding the breadth of knowledge and experience for the student population,” said Ed Heslop ’81, advisory council member.
“Prof. Van Es has worked with groups of students to see what they want, to see what’s possible. We’ve also checked with other schools to see what their leadership programs look like and how their experiences could be utilized in the Cornell context,” Lesser said.
Although BOLD is still in its infancy, there are already plans to expand its programs and offerings. While leadership and diversity remain its main focus, it will also attempt to confront a more immediate problem facing Cornell students — that of interview performance.
“We heard that compared to some other competitor business programs that not all of our students are as well prepared for interviews as they really should be,” Lesser said. “It’s presentation skills — just how to act in an interview. So we’ll look either as part of the BOLD program or maybe in conjunction with it to see what additional assistance we can give students in helping them prepare for job interviews.”