Despite how much the world has changed over the past several months, there is one constant that is more meaningful now than ever—the strength of the JWMI community.
Our local quarterly Jack Welch MBA networking events are vital to staying connected. While the current COVID-19 crisis prevents us from currently gathering in person, the JWMI community remains engaged and energized. Spanning the globe from Canada to South Africa to China, nearly 250 students, alumni, faculty, and staff attended our first-ever day of virtual global MBA networking event on April 23rd.
From 9 AM to 9 PM EST, the JWMI Student & Alumni Advisory Board (SAAB) and their ambassadors held regional sessions drawing students and alumni from a wide range of career stages and industries. The virtual event joined the JWMI community together to network, share insights into how we are managing today’s changing world, and to welcome our newest students on their Jack Welch MBA journey.
From the start of the morning session geared to Asia and the Middle East, it was clear the day was going to be special. Participants energetically made new connections, reconnected with old friends, and discussed the current global situation. Despite their diverse backgrounds, there was an overwhelming acknowledgment that the Jack Welch MBA program had given them the business and leadership tools to navigate today’s challenges.
Crisis Management Across the Globe
Many businesses are experiencing massive disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis. One student lamented that he had to make the difficult decision to lay off 30% of his staff. He looks to Jack’s 4 E’s and a P framework, recognizing the need to stay energized for his remaining employees, as they will feed off of his energy as a leader.
Students shared that the Jack Welch MBA program challenges you to be flexible and find a better way every day. In the words of Jack Welch: “When you are a leader, your job is to have all the questions. You have to be incredibly comfortable looking like the dumbest person in the room. Every conversation you have about a decision, a proposal, or a piece of market information has to be filled with you saying, what if? and why not? and how come?”
Citing Jack’s advice to “Face reality as it is, not as it was or you wish it would be,” participants spoke about potential innovations that could come out of this worldwide crisis. Many people are creatively finding new ways to do things, and in some cases, expand into different lines of business. For example, one participant described how a Texas distillery pivoted to producing hand sanitizer, citing the rewards of keeping people employed while contributing to the global cause. Other businesses are reengineering the way they sell and distribute goods. One student’s company found that by integrating trains into their distribution process, they were able to transport goods faster and cheaper compared to transporting by boat.
The Global Impact of JWMI
Another recurring theme throughout the day was the newfound confidence students and alumni gained in the program, resulting in new project pitches, promotions, and improved ability to engage with senior-level executives. “The energy from the other students, staff, and alumni has made me want to perform better in my job.” said one student.
Many participants noted the incredible value of being able to learn weekly from Experts of Practice—learning from executives who are in the trenches themselves. From the Leadership course to Strategy, they shared examples of how they immediately apply what they were learning in the classroom to their jobs, even remotely. The concept of “Getting Every Brain in the Game” resonated broadly. Leaders are listening to every voice on their teams to help their organizations thrive during difficult times. Most agreed that the ability to work remotely is effective but that they miss the in-person interaction and the “water cooler talk” from being in the office.
One common bond that all students and alumni share is grit, bonding over the challenges of juggling work, family, life, and the changing world while pursuing an MBA. Many attendees shared tips on time management and strategies to our 100% online program into their busy lives. Almost all noted that the JWMI faculty go above and beyond to find time to accommodate student schedules. The students and alumni agreed that they had never experienced a school that was so focused on their success, embodying Jack’s vision to reinvent the MBA experience to focus on the student as the customer, not the faculty or administration.
Even as the final session in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. West Coast drew to a close at 9 PM EST, the energy and engagement were high. Some alumni joined for just their regional session, and others stayed the whole day. The participants were grateful for the time to connect, make new friends, and get advice on managing amid the COVID-19 crisis. Despite busy schedules, increased family commitments, and changing work demands, the JWMI community remains connected, showcasing the power of our global footprint.