Category: Center for Corporate Education

VCU Mandela Fellows Actively Approach Leadership with SEAL Team Physical Training

Mandela Fellows Pose with the SEALS and Members
A group of tired yet exhilarated Mandela Fellows posed post-training with SEAL Team Professional Training staff near Belle Isle. “It boosts the spirit of collaborating, of challenging all situations, all kinds of issues. There is no barrier for me. I can now achieve bigger things, and we are taking this to Africa guys!” said Eric Casinga, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

By Shalma Akther
Intern, VCU School of Business Communications & Marketing

In business, leadership can be approached in countless ways – but none quite like the SEAL Team Physical Training that the Virginia Commonwealth University Mandela Fellows experienced on July 15th. VCU School of Business alumnus Timmy Nguyen connected the fellows with John McGuire, CEO of SEAL Team Physical Training, Inc., who offered the free session. 

Since June 20th, 50 Mandela Fellows have been at VCU learning about entrepreneurship and government through academic coursework and experiential leadership training as part of the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. “I think what is amazing about this program is that I got to be in the same room, for six weeks, with African leaders. We got to unite. We collaborated. We shared ideas. I was with very smart people that inspired me,” fellow Itumeleng Phake (Tumi), from South Africa.

SEALs await the introductions of the fellows
SEAL Team Physical Trainers awaited introductions of fellows

Since 1998 the SEAL Team Physical Training has provided an outdoor alternative to the gym. McGuire said, “Our new mission is to help individuals and teams reach their full potential. And what I love about the program is you get a chance to meet people from all over the world.” McGuire takes his knowledge from past experiences and his time as a US Navy SEAL to implement practice regimens for its diverse members and anyone else seeking training. “We’ve helped division one basketball football teams win fourteen championships in the last six years. Now we’re a small part of that, but I learned in the military there really is nothing like teamwork to bring out the best in people.”

Fellows and SEALs Complete Exercises Together
Fellows, VCU staff and SEAL Team PT staff completed exercises together

In addition to promoting confidence, SEAL Team PT also focuses on leadership and teamwork. Mandela Fellow Ndahafa Hapulile from Namibia stated, “What I like about this is the combination of mental strengthening and physical, so I felt this was a part of building my character because this exercise was very intense. However, it helped me to go beyond what I thought was my limit, so now I’m not even sure what my limit is anymore.”

As an observer I was able to witness their leadership progress. One could see the growth of communication between the fellows and the ongoing motivation each one demonstrated, while striving to achieve a common goal of seeing each other be successful in the various tasks. As a result, the fellows became an efficient and effective team, while taking the concept of what it means to be a leader to new heights, and understanding the world of possibilities available when one can effectively work together with others.

Fellows cheering on and awaiting further instructions
Fellows cheered a united “hooyah!” and awaited further instruction from CEO John McGuire

“I think what come out of this program is that we’ve collaborated. We understand that we are unity and that we need to work together to succeed as a continent, as different countries, and that’s what I’ll take out of this program,” Phake summed up his experience. Of his morning at SEAL Team PT, Phake said “I loved it! I think it shows that working as a team, that’s when you’ll achieve a lot more goals. A lot of times we are very selfish in doing things, and what it just shows is that if we work as a unit, we can achieve things better. And it’s very difficult because people have different personalities. But here we had to stay afloat. And I think teamwork makes the dream work.”

Virginia’s “Horse Country” and VCU Host Equus Leadership Coaching Event

Beth Herman and Jean Gasen pose with one of the farm hands who helped handle the horses for the event.
Beth Herman and Jean Gasen pose with workshop assistant Kennedy Tabor

Last weekend, EBH Consulting CEO Elizabeth B. Herman conducted an Introduction to Equus Leadership Coaching seminar for corporate leaders, coaches and business partners of VCU at Stillmeadows Farm in Mechanicsville.

Through Equus training, Herman demonstrates the importance of body language by letting clients enter a circle pen with a horse and giving them a chance to attract the horse and utilize their own personal leadership skills in making a connection.

Because of horses’ nature as prey animals, horses typically follow a leader the herd perceives as calm, collected and confident, according to Herman.

Herman says she's been involved with equestrian since she was 7 years old.
Herman says she’s been involved with equestrian since she was 7 years old.

“Human communication is 70 percent body language, 20 percent voice and 10 percent words,” Herman said. “Practice making that 70 percent count.”

During Saturday’s seminar, the two clients who volunteered to enter the circle pen were asked by Herman about a current challenge they were facing in their personal or professional lives.

Responding to these respective challenges, Herman let them work with the horses, offering them a chance to demonstrate their leadership abilities and creating confidence by highlighting skills and revealing areas to improve on while communicating what they wanted the horse to do.

In the process of attracting the horses’ attention and dictating the pace in which they ran around the pen, both volunteer clients were able to impose their personal difficult situations and prove to themselves they could take on any challenge, such as gaining the trust of a 1200-pound animal and assuming some degree of control over it.

The exercises would, both times, end with the horses circling the volunteers. Once trust and confidence had been built, the horses would gradually enclose the circle around the volunteer. Both horses would then rest their heads over the leader’s shoulders. This is the moment of connection, where a horse shows a relaxed state, having chosen a leader they find comforting.

Volunteers who entered the pen were asked by Herman what they'd like to see the horse do, with little instruction on how to handle the horse.
One of the volunteers, Denise Kasper, entered the pen and was asked by Herman what she would like to see the horse do, with little instruction on how to handle the horse.

Prior to Saturday’s event, both clients who volunteered said they have had little to no experience with horses.

Herman says the exercise with the horses lets clients try to exhibit leadership in ways that are different than what is fairly standard for those in positions of power.

“Humans toggle back and forth between two leadership models: domination and schmoozing,” Herman said. “Horses don’t respond well to either one.”

Mimi Weaver, who works as midlife transition coach, and Jane Alford, a rehabilitation consultant, said participating at the event gave them a new outlook on leadership habits and traits. Aware of the typical subconscious tendency to lead either by demanding results or sweet talk, both Alford and Weaver say they have new things to consider when having to demonstrate their roles as leaders.

“I’m in very adversarial work in the legal and medical field,” Alford said. “I have to push so hard, but I need to attach less to that and be present to my environment and be a better listener.”

“Often I notice the energy clients bring to me when they come,” Weaver said. “I notice the impact of me staying calm and how it opens up space in my clients to connect with themselves and feel safe to share.”

Saturday's event drew nearly 20 people. Two clients were invited into the horse pen during Saturday's demonstration.
Saturday’s event drew nearly 20 people. Two clients were invited into the horse pen during Saturday’s demonstration.

Herman, a Towson, Maryland native, says she first made the connection with Stillmeadows Farm years ago by association in equestrian jumping, an activity which Herman says she’s been long involved in.

Because of Stillmeadows reputation as a training facility with award-winning equestrian riders and mutual associates between Herman and the Center for Corporate Education Executive Director Jean Gasen, Herman was able to find a partner in the Richmond metropolitan area to host her leadership seminars.

Certified as an Equus Coach in April 2013, Herman has owned, ridden, and handled horses her whole life. In addition to her certification in Equus coaching, Herman also earned certification in a program called The Leadership Circle. Trained to coach and facilitate the Leadership Circle 360 assessment, Herman and EBH Consulting help businesses and organizations take a snapshot of employee/client/superiors confidence and morale.

“In a 360, if you’re the executive, you’re going to pick people above, below and beside you in the organizational chart and invite them to go online and give feedback about you,” Herman said. “It’s a little risky, and you’re going to learn with a dataset against other executives, you’re going to learn how your associates view you on various measures.”

Gasen says her daughter has been involved with horseback riding at Stillmeadows Farm for several years.
Gasen says her daughter has been involved with horseback riding at Stillmeadows Farm for several years.

Because of networking between Gasen and Herman within the Leadership Circle, Herman was able to bring her talents as an Equus coach to Virginia for the first time this month. Having founded EBH consulting in 2010 and expanding her consulting services to include the Leadership Circle and Equus Coaching in 2013, Herman’s Equus Coaching practice is based in Maryland with additional workshops in California, the Pacific Northwest, and now Virginia.

Gasen believes a continued partnership between VCU and EBH Consulting is possible, with future events on the horizon.

“I think at a minimum, one-day or two-day workshops are in the future,” Gasen said. “There’s nobody else in the Richmond area doing this.”

To learn more about Equus Coaching, EBH Consulting or Beth Herman, click here.

To learn more about the VCU School of Business Foundation’s Center for Corporate Education and Jean Gasen, click here.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

Shaka Smart Talks Leadership at Investors Circle Event

Despite the recent resurgence of rumors saying Shaka Smart is leaving VCU for another high-caliber college basketball program, the beloved coach is here to stay.

Last week, The VCU School of Business Foundation hosted a dinner for the school’s Investors Circle at the Jefferson Hotel. Invited to Tuesday night’s dinner was Coach Shaka Smart, who participated in a Q-and-A session with moderator Dr. Jean B. Gasen, Executive Director of the School of Business Center for Corporate Education.

The theme for Tuesday night’s discussion, “Instilling Leadership On and Off The Court,” had Dr. Gasen ask Smart questions regarding the basketball team, Smart’s impression of the student athletes he’s mentored, his coaching philosophies and core values on and off the court.

DSC_5062Having graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon University and earned his master’s in Social Science from California University of Pennsylvania, Smart developed a love for quotes from historical figures. Playing off his well-known admiration of poetry, history and motivational speaking, many of Dr. Gasen’s questions were preluded with quotes from writers and historians such as Sun Tzu and Robert Frost.

Dinner guests had an opportunity to see and hear Smart in a much more intimate setting with the coach answering questions with personal vignettes, recalling stories about being an assistant-coach at Florida University and Clemson and learning to become a leader and mentor for his student-athletes.

Smart also talked about his own family and being a father to his two-year old daughter Zora as well as being heavily influenced by his mother who raised him and his five siblings as a single parent.

DSC_5083When asked by a dinner guest what the greatest feeling Smart has felt as Head Coach, Smart replied that it hasn’t been winning and earning accolades, but instead seeing the student-athletes he watched grow and develop make something of themselves.

“Last week when we were recruiting in California, me and the team were watching Troy Daniels with the Houston Rockets on TV in the playoffs,” Smart said. “I don’t think I had ever been more proud watching him play.”

During Game 3 of the Houston Rockets playoff series with the Portland Blazers, VCU alumnus and A-10 record holder for the most three point field goals in a game, Troy Daniels hit a game winning three-pointer with 11.0 seconds left on the clock.

“I know Troy is going to succeed – in basketball or whatever he does – because he’s a hard worker and knows how to follow directions,” Smart said. “I know it sounds simple, but it makes a world of difference.”

DSC_5077After the dinner and discussion period, guests and members of the Investors Circle were invited to meet and take pictures with Smart.

For members of the Investors Circle, events and dinners such as these provide social and recreational outings for the network comprised of local businesses, charities and VCU alumni.

“It was fantastic. I completely enjoyed it,” said Davenport & Co. Senior Vice President and Head of Business Development Clay Hilbert. “We were founded in 1863 here in Richmond. We’ve been here a long time and we’re happy to be a part of the growth here in Richmond. I think VCU has done a phenomenal job in helping improve the city. We’re big supporters of the School of Business.”

While some members of the Investors Circle are individual donors, many local companies and businesses, such as Davenport & Co. donate to the school and offer invitations to Investor Circle events throughout the year to their employees.

DSC_5070Brandon Hey, a VCU alumnus from 2011 and current underwriter for Markel Insurance, said he was invited to Tuesday night’s dinner through his employer.

“It was a great event and so well put together. I really enjoyed it,” Hey said. “He [Shaka] was a very good speaker. I liked how he applied his coaching staff, the outside work force and the students into his answers.”

Individual memberships costs for the Investors Circle begin at $1,000 and Corporate at
$2,500. For more information, please visit or contact Katy Beishem at 804.827.0075 or  

To read the event coverage from the Richmond Times Dispatch, click here.

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

School of Business Hosts Nearly 90 Businesses For Biggest Career Fair to Date

Jerrold Price, a Claims Manager with Nationwide Insurance, interviews sophomore Abhisek Sabbe
Jerrold Price, a Claims Manager with Nationwide Insurance, interviews sophomore Abhisek Sabbe

The School of Business hosted its 2014 Spring Career Fair last week, featuring the largest number of visiting recruiters to date.

Despite being held on a make-up day due to the season’s ever-changing weather, the event drew nearly 90 businesses looking to hire VCU students and alumni.

This semester’s career fair was held in Snead Hall and the Qimonda Atriums. The wing of the Engineering School was used by the fair for the first time in order to accommodate all recruiting business’s exhibits.

With a 23 percent increase in companies attending from previous fairs, students had an opportunity to solicit information about jobs, internships and other opportunities with businesses looking for budding young professionals.

According to the School of Business Career Services, nearly 700 students attended the career fair.

Snead Hall “There was great participation by employers and students,” said VCU School of Business Career Services Director Mike Eisenman. “The employers were extremely complimentary of not just the volume of participation, but also the quality.”

Eisenman says at least one student was hired immediately after speaking and turning in a resume with one business. Twelve companies had already scheduled interviews with VCU students prior to the career fair as well, according to Eisenman.

“There are a lot of qualified individuals,” said Elizabeth Cane, a Regional Property Manager with Dodson Property Management. “We’ve gotten a lot of excellent questions. Everyone seems serious about this job fair and students are taking advantage of a great thing here.”

Joe Dodd, VCU Class of ’12, attended the fair as a recruiter with Geico. Dodd currently works for Geico as a Management Development Associate in Auto Sales and said he was happy to help recruit from his alma mater.

“I attended all of the career fairs while I was at VCU and I made a lot of good connections,” Dodd said. “If you see a name you recognize or something you’re interested in, my advice is to go up and just introduce yourself.”

Geico recruiters Joe Dodd, VCU '12, and Sean Clark
Geico recruiters Joe Dodd, VCU ’12, and Sean Clark

Abhishek Sabbe, a sophomore double majoring in Information Systems and Computer Science, said he attended the fair in order to find an internship for this upcoming summer.

“The Career Fair has been amazing because it has given me an opportunity to learn more about different companies I had never heard of,” Sabbe said. “It’s let me put my name out there and provides real job opportunities.”

New to this semester’s career fair were more businesses in developing fields such as Supply Chain and Analytics. Eisenman says professors like Wayne Slough were instrumental in attracting companies to recruit at the fair.

Eisenman says the Career Fair is mutually beneficial for both students and businesses, creating opportunities for both parties to be successful.

“Employment is good right now.It’s a good time to be looking for a job if a student is taking advantage of the resources available,” Eisenman said. “They need talent. That’s the reason they come and we have that talent here.”

For information on upcoming Career Fairs and career building workshops offered by the School of Business Career Services, click here.

Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

TEDTalks Time-Out! Introduced Admidst Climbing TEDx Popularity in Richmond


Embracing the TEDx mantra of spreading ideas, the VCU School of Business is introducing TedTalks Time-Out!

Every Wednesday this semester, the School of Business will be screening TedTalks, the world renowned conference seminar series that covers a breadth of topics from all types of industries presented by speakers at the top of their fields and disciplines.

The idea of screening TEDTalks began in the Office of Student and Alumni Engagement. Claire Calise, a VCU graduate student and Ram to Ram Coordinator says the office learned about TEDx from conversations with local business leaders and in-office chit-chat.

“We thought it’d be a great idea to give students a peaceful place they can come in the middle of the day and hear something they’ve never heard before, think about something they never considered and learn something for fun.” Calise said.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, began in the 80’s as an annual conference in Monterey, Ca. that looked to merge the three fields and showcase innovation among the disciplines.

Calise said the School of Business is aware many professors at VCU use TEDTalks in their respective classes for lectures, citing its value as a tool to teach and entertain students.

“They make you question what you know,” Calise said.

Although the program is just beginning, students who are even remotely familiar with TEDx are coming to learn more.

“I think TEDTalk videos are really inspiring,” said Britney, a Marketing major who was in attendance at last week’s screening. “They make me want to go out and do something after watching them.”

The popularity of TEDx has permeated throughout all of Richmond in the last year. In 2009, TEDx was founded, leasing the TED name for local events, so anyone, anywhere could apply to organize their own TEDx presentation.

Last year, TEDxRVA held its first conference and featured a large number of presentations, including researchers from VCU, a performance by modern pop-pianist ELEW and Zoe Romano and a local Richmonder who became the first woman to run across the country without a support vehicle in 2011.

TEDxVCU is currently being planned by a student-led team under the direction of junior, Elliot Roth.
“What’s really sad at VCU sometimes is student voices aren’t heard, they get lost in our huge university,” Roth said. “This event is our opportunity to have a student voice and have ideas expressed.”

Roth said the diverse culture of VCU would be more than fitting for a TEDx event, giving students an opportunity to showcase the different ideas and cultures that exists right on-campus.

TEDxVCU held its first open meeting last week and is currently looking for a location and talent. The organization has open-mic nights planned in the near future to scout potential speakers and spread even more awareness of the program.

Roth and Calise said TEDTalks Time-Out! bring more attention to local TED events, and in turn educate students more about Richmond.

“I love this city and I think VCU students should be proud that they’re here,” Calise said. “Sometimes students don’t seem to get off campus much, and it’s unfortunate. We should learn more about the city we live in.”

While both TEDxRVA and TEDTalks Time-Out are being rolled out almost simultaneously, the associations had no previous contact. Roth admits it’s a happy coincidence, being mutually beneficial.

The TEDTalks Time-Out! screenings will take place in Snead Hall, room B1114 every Wednesday this semester at 3pm.

Each month will have a different focus; January on Leadership, February on Collaboration and Non-Profits, March on Sustainability and April will feature presentations from last year’s TEDxRVA. Students, faculty and staff from all all over VCU are invited to attend the weekly TEDTalks Time-out event.

If you have an questions or comments for TEDTalks Time-Out! please contact Calire Calise at or (804) 828-2035.

If you’re interested in participating with TEDxVCU, please contact Elliot Roth at or (703) 232-6241.

For the complete TEDTalks Time-out! schedule, visit

-Article by Chris Suarez, Student Journalist

Prospective Students Are Welcomed at VCU’s Fall Open House

Prospective Students and Parents visit various booths to find out more about programs offered.
Prospective Students and Parents visit various booths to find out more about the programs offered.

Last Saturday, VCU hosted it’s first Open House of the semester. The day consisted of tours and information sessions allowing prospective students and their families to get a sense of campus life and academia. Over 100 high school seniors and their families attended a presentation at Snead Hall to learn more about programs within the School of Business. Most students were between the ages of 17 and 18, and each showed a serious interest in pursuing a business-related career.

“I’ve always been really good at math and numbers but I didn’t really know what to do with it,” said Thomas Roberts, a senior from Northern Virginia.

“I joined the investment club at my high school and that’s when it clicked,” he said. Roberts wants to pursue a career in accounting or economics and chose VCU’s School of Business because of its outstanding value as a state school.

This value has earned the University a great deal of national attention. Though most come from Northern Virginia, Virginia Beach, and other nearby cities, many of the prospective students on Saturday came from areas along the east coast, including Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

“I heard about this school from my uncle who lives down here,” said Monique Slater from Long Island, NY. Slater, who wants to work for the international business market, said that the  open house was so impressive that she pushed VCU to the top of her list of possible colleges. “I haven’t heard anything I don’t like about it. Richmond is very different from Long Island, but I’m sure I can get used to it.”

During the presentation, Dean Ed Greir described Richmond’s culture and growing economy. Many found this beneficial, especially since VCU is considered an urban campus.

What Marilyn Glenn, a parent from Virginia Beach, loved most about Richmond was it’s healthy balance of busy city and serene suburbia. Others, like 17-year-old Eric Johnson, were very interested in Richmond’s unique culture and lifestyles.

“Growing up, I used to want to be a musician” said Johnson, who is now interested in studying Information Systems and technology at VCU.

“I started taking art classes in high school and decided that I didn’t want art to be my main curriculum. Richmond does have a great music scene, though, so I can still go to school and do my music thing on the side.”

Student Ambassador President, Ti'Lon Paige, shares the advice she gives to incoming students.
Student Ambassador President, Ti’Lon Paige, shares the advice she gives to incoming students.

Although his decision to attend VCU is not final, Johnson has already expressed interest in participating in VCU’s student radio station, WVCW. Getting involved in campus organizations is the key to making it at VCU, according to Ti’Lon Paige, president of the School of Business’ student ambassadors.

“My biggest regret freshman year was not participating in any programs and staying in a shell,” said Paige, who is now in her senior year. “I tell all new students, ‘Go out there and take what you want.’ You can’t expect anybody else to make college work for you.”

VCU will host its next Open House on November 2. For more information about Open House, click here.

-Article by Brittney Barbour, student journalist

Winning New Business – Increase Your Sales Through Building Great Relationships

Back by Popular Demand: The Center for Corporate Education is pleased to announce that we are offering our one-day, Winning New Business program again this fall on October 19th.  The program has consistently received rave reviews and will give you the framework and the practical skills to enable your sales success.  To find out more, click here for more details.

Learn to Become A Better Leader through Coaching

The Center for Corporate Education is offering a one-day course entitled, Coaching Skills for Managers and Leaders on October 23rd. To learn more about the program, click here for details.

Extraordinary Women Leaders Program

Ever feel like you’re lacking passion? It’s that drive that you know you need to get where you want to be. We were floored by these women’s abilities to inspire and create new thoughts, ideas, and paths for themselves. The experience left us feeling pretty inspired.

Let us introduce you to the latest alumna of the
Extraordinary Women Leaders program offered by the Center for Corporate Education at the VCU School of Business.

Where did that inspiration come from, you may ask?  A simple six-day course staggered over a three-month period led by the center’s director Dr. Jean Gasen was the source.

Dr. Gasen spoke with profound thought at the program’s commencement luncheon on what it means to be a woman in the workforce and how
to best foster your own development for the sake of your future and that of your community.  At Dr. Gasen’s side were EWL’s
facilitators, Dr. Ann Deaton and Kathy Harman.

Cara Gwinn, an IT Manager at the Virginia Credit Union told
us that the journey with EWL was “life-changing.”  “It brought me a new awareness and I began to
realize who I was and the impact I could make.
We melded our values and core beliefs to how we were going to change and
impact our environment.”

Rene Massey Ashjian, who currently does sales efficiency consulting, talked about the value of women’s leadership in the workforce.  “It is valuable to be able to create an
environment that fosters women connecting with each other and with the workforce to
encourage and nurture our particular skill sets.”  She emphasized this by saying she left a
position she held for nine years to move to a consulting firm that worked more

Looking at these women present their before and afters was
enough to make you want to get up and do that thing you’ve been wanting to do
forever.  Take it from us.
Just go do it.
Make your impact.

Group Photo

Enjoy the rest of the pictures from the day.

Extraordinary Women Leaders Information Session February 15th

Please join us for an Information Session to learn more about the next Extraordinary Women Leader Program, sponsored by the Center for Corporate Education at VCU. Find out how you can take your leadership to the next level.  Here are the details:

Date: February 15th
Time: 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Location: Innsbrook Area,
               4521 Highwoods Pkwy,
               Glen Allen, VA 23060

For more details visit our webpage:

Please contact our office at 828-3165 or email us at for questions.

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