Getting down to business

UWL Junior Jon Barnes, left, says the Beta Gamma Sigma Global Leadership Summit opened his eyes to the life experiences of others. Photo courtesy of Glennon Williams.

UWL students join top business students worldwide to build on strengths, shape the future

What happens when top business students from across the globe gather in one, big room?

Well, at first, it can be a bit of scuffling among all the type-A, go-getter personalities. But then, as students put their heads together and leverage strengths, they solve challenges that are sure to be head scratchers for future business leaders.

Seven students from UW-La Crosse’s Beta Gamma Sigma chapter were selected to attend the BGS Global Leadership Summit Nov. 3-6, in Dallas, Texas. Donna Anderson, professor and advisor to BGS, led the group from UW-La Crosse. They networked with students in the business honors fraternity from across the globe and heard from business experts.

UWL senior Emily Sherwin, left, pictured during discussions at the Beta Gamma Sigma Global Leadership Summit. Sherwin says the experience helped prepare her for successful collaboration that she expects in a future career. Photo courtesy of Glennon Williams.

UWL senior Emily Sherwin, left, pictured during discussions at the Beta Gamma Sigma Global Leadership Summit. Sherwin says the experience helped prepare her for successful collaboration that she expects in a future career. Photo courtesy of Glennon Williams.

Prior to the conference, students completed StrengthsFinder. Once they arrived, they heard from speakers about how to use those strengths for success. On the last days of the conference, all were assigned to diverse groups of business students worldwide and given a company marketing challenge or ethical dilemma to solve by combining their strengths. On the final day, each group presented to a panel of judges made up of business executives.

UWL senior Hannah Thomsen, a double major in marketing and Spanish, was part of the team that won the competition. Winning was a  “confidence booster” and inspiration to challenge herself to do more competitions going forward, she says.

UWL students attending the summit were from left, Junior Rachel Ajack, international business and Spanish; Junior Rachel Nolan, finance; Junior Jon Barnes, accountancy; Senior Hannah Thomsen, marketing and Spanish; Senior Emily Sherwin, marketing; Senior Adam Letto, marketing; Senior Kayla Peterson, management and marketing.

UWL students attending the summit were from left, Junior Rachel Ajack, international business and Spanish; Junior Rachel Nolan, finance; Junior Jon Barnes, accountancy; Senior Hannah Thomsen, marketing and Spanish; Senior Emily Sherwin, marketing; Senior Adam Letto, marketing; Senior Kayla Peterson, management and marketing.

Learning strengths weren’t only useful for winning the event. They’ll come in handy down the road in classes, job interviews and future careers.

“We tend to focus on negatives — I’m not as strong as her or as successful as him. The message was to not do that, but to focus on your five strengths — what makes you, you. That’s how you position yourself for success that you can bring wherever you go,” explains UWL senior Adam Letto. “You leverage something no one else has.”

The summit also helped students learn to look for the strengths in others, and find resolution when strengths conflict.

“A lot of the people in my group were all taking the leadership role, so it was hard to find balance,” says UWL senior Emily Sherwin. “But that’s what we will find in the real world.”

Letto experienced a similar scenario as his group plotted marketing plans for millennial fashion. One member of the group continued to present problems with every suggestion, but offered no solutions. Letto simply communicated this to the group, asking for a more collaborative, problem-solving approach. They completed the project with a solid plan for the judges, he adds.

UWL senior Kayla Peterson, a double major in management and marketing, has already used her strengths for insight into her leadership style in a campus organization. In particular, she learned she needs to communicate to understand why people do what they do instead of simply becoming frustrated by not knowing.

UWL senior Kayla Peterson, far left, pictured with her group at the summit. They took second overall. UWL senior Hannah Thomsen’s team took first overall. Photo courtesy of Glennon Williams.

UWL senior Kayla Peterson, far left, pictured with her group at the summit. They took second overall. UWL senior Hannah Thomsen’s team took first overall. Photo courtesy of Glennon Williams.

UWL Junior Jon Barnes, an accountancy major, says the cultural diversity at the summit, and even within his group, opened his eyes to the life experiences of others. Speakers made him realize it’s OK to not know exactly what to do in life. But their message about finding passion within careers was energizing.

“It struck me that our business paths as young leaders will shape the future,” says Barnes. “There are ways to combine business with making a difference in society.”

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“If you put yourself out there and capitalize on the opportunities the university provides, you will better yourself and you’ll have takeaways large and small.” – UWL Senior Adam Letto.

About Beta Gamma Sigma

Beta Gamma Sigma is the national scholastic honor society for students of business and management. Election to membership in Beta Gamma Sigma is the highest scholastic honor that a student in a school of business or management can achieve.