Future Leader Mentor Program Builds Bridges for MBA Students

Published on December 19, 2011

College Celebrates First Semester of Program Matching MBAs with Executive Partners

The Fall 2011-Spring 2012 Future Leader Mentoring Program group includes Executive Partners: Bruce Levine, Lorraine Grubbs, Al Bolea, Leslie Farnsworth, Wayne Malik, Mark Gregg, Jim Hamilton, Kenneth Guidry, Rich Walsh, Jo Dravis, William Holt, and Courtney Claiborne, as well as Future Leaders: Jesus Guerra, Allison Blankenship, Brinson Joseph, Nnaemeka Akpunonu, Kelly Herndon, Zane Corbin, Kate Turner, Saikat Basu, Kristen Blagg, Mehul Shah, Jeremy Golden and Angela Mestre.

Students from the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business frequently laud the unique combination of classroom learning and interaction with industry they experience at the college. One of the latest programs at UH Bauer giving students real world knowledge is the Future Leader Mentoring Program.

Launched in Fall 2011, the program pairs MBA students with executive partners, who volunteer their time to share what they have learned about succeeding in the corporate world and guide students through their academic and professional development.

“Both the future leaders and executive partners have been extremely pleased with the mentoring process and its outcomes during this first semester of the program,” said Leanne Atwater, chair of the college’s Department of Management.

“The future leaders felt truly privileged to be able to help develop their leadership skills with one-on-one mentoring,” she added.

The roster of mentors includes successful leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds. Students chosen to participate in the program were matched with executive partners with similar interests who could provide personalized coaching based on each participant’s goals.

Richard F. Walsh, retired senior vice president and chief administrative officer of PerkinElmer, Inc., said the future leader/executive partner discussions have covered many different subjects, including challenges the students experience in their work environment, what to expect in leadership positions, how to advance professionally, and creating a personal leadership development plan.

“It is a unique opportunity for the students to have the personal time and attention of a business executive in a ‘risk free’ relationship,” Walsh said.

The college’s Leadership Initiative Board celebrated a successful inaugural semester of the program with a luncheon in December. The event provided participants an opportunity to share best practices for optimizing their mentoring relationships and to discuss moving forward to the second semester of the program.

“People are pumped (about the program). This is a clear winner,” said Al Bolea, another executive partner and an executive leadership coach primarily in the oil and gas industry. “I was fortunate in my career to have had one or two good mentors. I know the difference that can be made by having someone to help shape a future, and I know that I have much to share.”

In order to be eligible for the program, MBA students must have completed at least half of the program requirements toward the MBA degree, expressed intention to complete the MBA Leadership Certificate, interviewed with the FLMP Interview and Selection Committee, and be in good standing with the University. The only other requirement is a willingness to learn and a desire to establish a meaningful business relationship, Walsh added.

“One other important characteristic the student must be willing to bring to the program is the desire to contribute to the EPs development as well,” he said. “This is now referred to as ‘reverse mentoring’ where the MBA student actually mentors the EP in some new areas of knowledge. An example of this might be a student helping an EP to understand more about the power of social media in a business context. With this emphasis in the FLMP, learning will be a two-way street with each party learning from the other, a real win-win.”

For more information on joining the Future Leader Mentoring Program as either an Executive Partner or a Future Leader, contact Leanne Atwater at leatwater@uh.edu.

By Ryan Tang