Executives Bring Knowledge into the Leadership Classroom

Posted: April 29, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Without a clear definition of leadership and good examples to follow, future leaders may not develop the skills and practices that they need to be successful in their roles. This is the principle behind Archie Tinelli’s communication and leadership graduate class, the introductory class in the Technology Management Program in the School of Management that began meeting March 29.

“Everyone has a different understanding of leadership, and most students never get a complete introduction of how to be a leader,” says Tinelli, director of executive and professional education in the School of Management. “This class provides students with an organized framework for understanding the roles of leaders and what one needs to be successful in such a position.”

Tinelli doesn’t waste any class time exploring these roles. On the first day of the class, a new batch of technology management students were immediately introduced to the roles of the chief information officer (CIO) and the chief technology officer (CTO)—literally. Three top executives from respected technological companies arrived in class that day and allowed students to interview them. The visitors included Jack Littley, CIO, GTSI; Alan Harbitter, CTO, PEC Solutions; and Dan Bannister, CEO, Dyncorp.

“It sends the message that this class is not just book learning, but hands-on experience,” says Tinelli. “These are senior executives from major corporations—the type of people that my students are aspiring to be like. It’s a great opportunity for them to engage with people who are already successful in the field they want to enter.”

Students got the opportunity to talk about the definition of leadership and how these executives climbed the corporate ladder. “It’s a wonderful enhancement to the program to bring these professionals into the classroom,” says Andres Fortino, director of the Technology Management Program. “Students need role models. Many of these executives are CIOs and CTOs who crafted the technology management program at Mason and helped create it. It is a powerful combination to have students and professionals working and learning together, and it is one of the program’s strengths.”

The executives also walked away from the experience with something positive. Tinelli, who has brought leaders into his other classes in the past for the same type of program, says the leaders themselves benefit from the interview. “They get to see a sampling of students, of the future leaders in technology, and what they are like,” he says. “And they always walk away impressed.”

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