Learning to Lead

The Albers School's Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization enriches leadership skills

Story by: Annie Beckmann
Published: 2012-08-13

As a Microsoft product manager whose work in licensing and pricing is a hybrid between marketing and operations, Michael Wang says he makes use of all he learns in the Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization (GLFS) of his MBA program at the Albers School of Business and Economics.

Leading teams, setting direction and developing confident communication and greater interpersonal awareness are some of the competencies Wang sought for his MBA. Albers' premier reputation in the region and the flexibility it offers professionals with full-time work schedules were a draw for Wang. The GLFS is "an incredible specialization and should be recognized as a differentiating factor in Albers. I hope to see the GLFS draw students throughout the state, region and across the nation," Wang says.

Students in this select specialization spearhead the Red Winged Leadership Award, which honors community members for their leadership, business acumen and social impact. The GLFS cohort identifies possible candidates and selects the winners.

"It's like a greenhouse where aspiring leaders can practice, cultivate and grow their leadership skills in a safe classroom environment," Wang says. "All of us were inspired by hearing their stories, learning the process and journey they went through to arrive at where they are today. We looked for Red Winged Leaders who embodied key SU philosophies such as reaching out to humanity, bridging the gap and connecting people."

Hobnobbing with internationally known business leaders is another advantage of his studies. Wang was the opening speaker for the Red Winged Leadership event where Costco Wholesale co-founder and retired CEO Jim Sinegal, now senior executive in residence at Albers, delivered the keynote speech. Wang also served as a student panelist when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz came to campus for the Albers Executive Speaker Series. He credits not only SU but also Toastmasters International for helping him develop confidence as a public speaker.

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MBA student Michael Wang, right, appeared on a recent panel discussion featuring Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, left. Also on the panel were alumna Jody Hall (owner of Cupcake Royale) and undergraduate student Arielle Newcomb.

Albers Associate Professor of Management Jennifer Marrone describes Wang as articulate and thoughtful and says his motivation is influenced by his upbringing and culture. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Wang came to this country with his family when he was age 6. He says he is especially indebted to his parents-his mother for the foundational upbringing she provided and his father for being a paragon to follow.

 

"Many of the experiences that define and shape who I am today are due to my father's sacrifice to bring our family to the United States," Wang wrote in a paper for one of Marrone's management classes.

His drive takes many forms. He completed the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic in one day and finished the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Wang is also a classically trained pianist who had wanted to study music as an undergraduate, yet says he's pleased his family steered him in a different direction.

"Now I have a great career that can fund my hobby," he says with a smile.

This profile will also appear in SU's graduate viewbook.


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