A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Leadership Program Immerses Global Participants in Valuable Business Skills Development

Representing 40 universities locally and globally, 83 participants learned about business leadership and fine-tuned their future plans during UCR’s two-week Accelerated Business Leaders Education program.


The UCR School of Business wrapped up its two-week Accelerated Business Leaders Education (ABLE) winter session in February, presenting it in a virtual format for the first time due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The program included 83 participants representing 40 universities from more than seven countries and territories, and the online program expanded ABLE’s reach to students both locally and globally.

“ABLE is a good starting point for those who, like me, are planning their graduate studies,” says participant Mark Andrew de la Cruz, a working professional in the Philippines. “I am very impressed with the innovative way UCR Business executed this program to ensure education is accessible no matter how challenging the situation, especially in these uncertain times.”

Guest speakers included Michelle Mao, president, and Chris Larson, vice president, of TCL, a multi-national electronics company and the fastest-growing television brand in North America. Mao was recognized as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Technology” in 2016, and she and Larson spoke about the leadership, strategic vision, and market insights that helped the company grow so rapidly.

“I tell my employees all the time that if you’re not making mistakes, it’s because you are either moving too slow or are too far within your comfort zone,” said Larson. Mao also discussed cultural differences involved in managing employees in varying locations and responded to student questions about navigating a top leadership position as a woman.

UCR School of Business management professors utilized case study methodology, role-playing activities, survey polls, and other interactive methods to teach the pillars of the program curriculum—leadership, teamwork, innovation, and strategy. Assistant Professor Kyle Ingram focused on the Leader-Member Exchange theory, helping participants understand leader-follower dynamics to increase job satisfaction and overall performance. Associate Professor Elaine Wong guided participants through the decision-making process with strategies to help leaders recognize and reduce biases, which often lead to ineffective decisions. Associate Professor Marlo Raveendran provided an in-depth overview of possible organizational design structures, their advantages, and situations where each would be appropriate, and she emphasized “structure follows strategy.”

Other learning opportunities included a CliftonStrengths workshop led by Lela Dennis, human resources director of employee and organizational development at UCR, underscoring the importance of leaders balancing the needs of people, productivity, and profit. Sabine Freij, director of Graduate Advising and Student Services at UCR’s A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, facilitated a conflict resolution workshop providing tools for handling different types of conflict.


ABLE Strategy and Business Innovation Competition

Grouped in teams, ABLE participants conducted an innovation and strategic audit for an assigned company in the program’s Strategy and Business Innovation Competition. In preparation for the contest, Sean Jasso, professor of practice in management, led “winning” and “strategy” seminars. Teams worked together over the course of the program to overcome a variety of challenges, including cross-cultural communication and group dynamics. On the last day of the ABLE program, each team presented an analysis with recommendations for the company moving forward.

ABLE Strategy and Business Innovation Competition winner February 2021: Team BEST BUY

The top competitor was Team Best Buy. “They delivered a polished, well-organized and rigorous presentation highlighted by a strong command of the company’s complex strategic issues,” says Jasso, the competition coordinator and one of three judges. “They were well-rehearsed and relaxed, adhered to time and format requirements, produced high-level executive slides, and most, importantly, provided effective strategic alternatives for their client.” 

In addition to hands-on strategic audit experience, each member of Team Best Buy received a $5,000 scholarship toward their business master’s education at UCR.

“The ABLE program has given me the opportunity to accelerate my learning and prepare myself for success as a strategic leader in the business sector,” says Jinatul Raihan Mumu, an undergraduate student in Bangladesh. “By providing ample opportunities to learn more about the graduate business school at UCR and the freedom to contact anyone—student ambassadors, administrators, and faculty—to ask for help, I am more confident and prepared to pursue a graduate degree.”

The ABLE program summer session (June/July) is enrolling now. ABLE is open to domestic and international students, undergraduate students interested in business or leadership, and anyone who is looking to “try out” a graduate management program. Interested individuals may apply for the 2021 summer program or request a brochure for information on program pricing.



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