When Wharton EMBA alumna Susan Sotiropoulos, AP marketing manager for DuPont Chemicals in Shanghai, had a business trip to the U.S. last month, she made sure to arrange her schedule so she could attend Wharton’s annual Leadership Conference as well. Having already attended the event twice before, she knew the speakers would discuss topics very relevant to her own career.
This time, Wharton Prof. Harbir Singh's presentation about how India’s top business leaders are revolutionizing management was of particular interest. “I work very closely with our team in India, and am hopeful that the additional insight from his talk will allow me to create further value in our work together,” she says.
Sotiropoulos, who graduated from Wharton in 2005, also was very interested in Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Engagement at Ernst & Young Beth Brook’s talk about the need for inclusive leadership in turbulent times. “While this is something we as leaders understand, very few of us employ systematic means to ensure we utilize this form of inclusive leadership to its potential,” she says. “However, this type of engagement will be necessary for my company’s future success in China.”
The annual Wharton event, says Sotiropoulos, is well worth attending not only because it exposes her to leadership talent that only top schools can attract, but also because it provides a chance to reconnect with colleagues both within and outside of the Wharton community. “I have asked colleagues to join me for this conference so I can reconnect with individuals I work with in a different manner than our regular interactions allow,” she explains.
Mark Turner, who graduated from Wharton’s EMBA program in 2001 and is the president and CEO of WSFS Financial Corp. in Wilmington, Del., agrees that events like the Leadership Conference are great opportunities for networking. “Since I’ve graduated, I’ve come back four times for this conference. In some cases, my classmates and I use it as an opportunity to get together and have dinner afterward, but it’s also a chance to get to know other alumni and business leaders because it is so well attended,” he says.
And it’s a “booster shot” in terms of leadership ideas and inspiration, which are critical these days to be an effective leader, he says. “You need to keep current with what others are doing and I come away from these events energized.”
Of particular interest to Turner at this year’s conference was Peter Guber’s talk about story telling. Turner says that the chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group did a great job speaking about how to motivate other people to support your ideas and reinforcing the concept of authentic leadership.
“Programs at Wharton like the Leadership Conference add significantly to the value of my degree in terms of reconnecting with people, making new connections, and providing continuing education – I’ve always been a proponent of lifelong learning,” he adds.