MBAs get one-on-one time with execs through C-Level Confidential dinners

At the Neeley School of Business, we expect our MBAs to be outstanding scholars, excellent colleagues and good stewards of the University's reputation. But we also understand that our MBAs are individuals. By developing experiential learning programs and constantly striving to make them ever more enriching, our faculty and staff remain committed to each student's personal and professional growth.

C-Level Confidential Dinners are integral to Neeley's educational mission. Conceived by P.D. Shabay, a Neeley School alumnus and retired Bell Helicopter executive, these Dinners have been a fixture of TCU's MBA culture since 2008. Each dinner provides a rare opportunity for groups a dozen students to sit down with a senior executive to talk candidly about industry trends. Through these conversations, students also learn about the challenges upper-level executives face in their decision-making process. Each C-Level Confidential Dinner is also a great opportunity for TCU MBAs to make an impression and grow their professional network.

This academic year, Neeley is hosting thirteen C-Level Confidential Dinners. In addition to Fall 2016 participants such as Paul Raines (CEO, GameStop) and John Levis (Global Innovation Head, Deloitte), the impressive 2016-17 line-up will also feature executives Chuck Rubin (CEO, Michaels: April 19) and Barclay Berdan (CEO, Texas Health Resources: May 2).

Earlier this Spring, Taylor Mackay (MBA 2017) attended a C-Level Dinner and spent invaluable time with April Anthony, CEO of Encompass Home Health & Hospice. Taylor holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and is a past president of TCU’s MBA Healthcare, but he freely admits that he chose to further his education because, in his words, “I found myself lacking the business acumen to advance within healthcare”

Having recently accepted a position in the CEO Graduate Development Program at CareFirst, the dinner with April Anthony fit Taylor’s career path perfectly. He seized the opportunities this event presented to learn more about running a home health care business. Asked what he took away from his C-Level Dinner conversations, Taylor identifies two critical pieces of advice. “It is important to balance work and family,” he acknowledges. “April Anthony stressed the importance of integrating those values into your organizational culture.”

And secondly? “People are important and must be valued. Without them the service breaks down, you fail your customer, and as a business, your days are numbered.” Ultimately, Taylor sees his C-Level Dinner experience as being integral to his continuing to develop the financial, operational, and managerial competencies he needs to succeed in his field

Before beginning her studies at to TCU, Allie Romo (MBA 2018) worked in philanthropy with the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Last November, Allie dined with Vivek Sankaran, President of Frito-Lay. His emphasis on the value of diverse experiences in the workplace really stayed with Allie. As she observes, “there is no cookie-cutter way to becoming a great leader… we all must leverage our own expertise and unique experiences to be successful leaders.”

Allie also found several of Vivek Sankaran’s remarks to be truly inspirational. Specifically, she remembers vividly how he advised the group to approach complicated strategic issues: either you can complain about complexity or “give it a hug.” Allie picked up on this point and adds that she left the C-Level Dinner experience convinced that difficult problems “which we will all find in our current and future work, is not something we should shy away from, but embrace so that we can continue to grow.”

Learn more about how the C-Level Dinners contribute to the innovative learning environment and tight-knit community characteristic of the TCU MBA experience by visiting the Neeley School of Business website.

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