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Students turn thinking into action at first annual Strategic Leadership Challenge

Thursday, December 6 2018 12:00pm

Student teams competed for the chance to present their idea at the Collegiate Leadership Competition in April 2019.

By Andrew Pueschel and Tim Reynolds

On Wednesday, Nov. 28, Ohio University’s College of Business hosted the first annual Strategic Leadership Challenge. Sponsored by the Walter Center for Strategic Leadership, students from across the university competed in teams for a chance to attend the Collegiate Leadership Competition to be held in April 2019 in Oxford, Ohio. The purpose of the event was to create an environment where students further developed the ability to turn strategic leadership thinking into action.

“It is not enough to only be able to solve problems as they happen,” said Andrew Pueschel, director of the Emerging Leaders program and lecturer in management at the COB. “Today’s strategic leaders must to be able to proactively simulate future challenges and opportunities that have the ability to maximize positive impact on individuals, organizations, and communities.”

Kim Jordan, director of the strategic leadership certificate and COB lecturer, kicked off the event by promoting the strategic leadership certificate, noting the significance of the program and the impact it can have on students who complete the program.

“The Strategic Leadership Challenge is about bringing interactive development opportunities to students from across the university and awareness to the academic and co-curricular opportunities that are provided through the strategic leadership certificate and other offerings of the Walter Center,” said Jordan.

Using “just-in-time learning,” the participants, more than 60 students, were placed into teams of six and given the challenge of first, creating an agreed upon issue with a positive social impact that interested the group as a whole.  The teams chose to focus on the issues of incarcerated pregnant women living in Florida and were given 30 minutes to research the information needed to identify, analyze, and solve problems for these women. Finally, students prepared a three-to-four-minute presentation in the remaining 20 minutes left of the session for the roleplay audience, the administration of the Florida’s Women’s Penitentiary Board. 

Students listened to their peers as each team presented their concepts.  After the teams finished presenting, the students voted on the best selection to represent Ohio University at the spring 2019 Collegiate Leadership Competition.  The winning team of students included the following participants:

Nader Afyouni, Finance and Economics, College of Business
Brian Hirschl, Accounting with Spanish minor, Honor Tutorial College
Morgan Parker, Finance and Business Analytics, College of Business
Sierra Smith, Finance and Business Analytics, College of Business
Laura Wilt, Marketing and Data Analytics, College of Business

Students enjoyed the event and were excited to be challenged.

“It was fun to be faced with a totally unexpected and unknown problem,” said Kelly Thaxton, majoring in information systems, “It was also fun to come up with the solution!”

Those who attended the event left the session both inspired and excited to move forward with their own leadership development.

“I didn’t know that I was capable of researching brand new issues that quickly,” Madeline Smith, majoring in international business, said.

The Walter Center for Strategic Leadership also sponsors a variety of leadership development events throughout the year. In the fall, The ECO Challenge partners students in the strategic leadership certificate, T. Richard and Eleanora K. Robe Leadership Institute, and Cutler Scholars for an eight-week intensive competition where students create and pitch investment proposals for sustainable infrastructure on campus.  During the spring, the Robert L. Foehl Ethical Case Competitionchallenges students to research and present ethical issues that are currently impacting our society.  

The Strategic Leadership Challengefollows the tradition of the Walter Center by inviting students from across the OHIO community to realize their leadership potential.

“It is imperative that we as educators create practice fields and feedback systems where next generation leaders collaboratively learn to recognize strategic value possibilities, solve complex problems through high-performance teaming, and realize their own potential for doing so.” said Tim Reynolds, executive director of Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership and executive-in-residence at the COB.

For more information on the strategic leadership certificate or the Walter Center for Strategic Leadership, please go to:

·       Strategic leadership certificate: /academics/certificates/strategic-leadership/

·       Walter Center for Strategic Leadership: /about/centers-institutes/walter-center-for-strategic-leadership/

·       Eco Challenge (2018 recap):

·       Ethics Case Competition (2018 information) /about/events/robert-l-foeehl-ethical-leadership-case-competition/