1997…Back to Southern Hospitality…
The 1997 GBC brought us south of the Mason Dixon line once again, to Nashville and the Owen School of Management on the picturesque Vanderbilt University campus. Conference chairs Kristin McGrath and Steve Pillsbury introduced Managing Quality: Quality Managing and proceeded to take the assembly through a masterful exploration of this topic.
Keynote speaker Marvin Runyon, CEO and Postmaster General of the U.S. Postal Service presented an intriguing retrospective of the major milestones of his career and demonstrated the linkage between his business management style, his commitment to strong employee relations, and his overarching dedication to quality management. He was followed by Howland Blackiston, President of the Jurand Institute, who introduced several fundamentals of Quality Management through a series of mini-case studies.
Our keynotes set the stage for a superb series of afternoon panel discussions designed by student conference coordinators. These sessions were facilitated by several prominent members of the Owen faculty and featured topics that included The Customer’s Role in Quality, Building a Workplace Culture Around Quality, and Quality Leadership. Our afternoon concluded with an innovative Leadership Forum presented by Professor Richard L Daft, Ralph Owen Professor of Management.
Partners in Leadership
Friday evening brought us to the Cheekwood Gardens estate, a perfect venue for our gala Leadership Awards Banquet. In a Conference first, both the Student Leadership Award and the Community Outreach award were presented to Wharton students. President of the Wharton Graduate Association and Student Leadership Award recipient Michael Carrel synthesized a 30-page vision document for the future of the Wharton Community and executed his vision with extraordinary results. Funding for Wharton and greater community initiatives was increased by $150,000. Student modem support, information services, and meeting facilities were all expanded significantly. Not to be undone, Community Outreach Award recipient Todd Gibbey teamed with Carrel and significantly expanded Wharton’s community service programs. Student support grew from 15 volunteers in 1996 to over 200 volunteers in 1997.
Leadership, Partnership, Camaraderie, and the One-Eyed Joe…
Saturday proved to be a most invigorating exchange of best practices. A series of workshops promoted a spirited discussion of ideas and ideals. On a parallel path, the President’s Leadership forum continued with a program of breakout exercises, problem solves, and coordinated initiatives. We concluded the formal Conference program with a Graduate Business Foundation presentation and a look for to our sister European Graduate Business Conference in Cologne, Germany.
When the delegation was not in formal meetings, we found ourselves pampered by the Owen social committee’s Southern Hospitality. It became all too easy to lapse into “y’all” and various other local drawls in our hospitality suite, our Saturday Tennessee Barbecue lunch, and Saturday evening’s coup d’etat: Casino Night at Nashville’s historic Union Station. Harrad’s capped its support for the GBC by mobilizing a complete Casino (staff and equipment) for our after-dinner activity. The stakes were high, and the play money flowed like a river! Our late-night itinerary included a trip to the famous Crazy Horse Saloon, and delegates commandeered the dance floor for a spirited (albeit terrible) stab at country dancing.