Senior and Faculty Mentor Selected for Business Leadership Academy

February 08, 2011

Amanda Simmons, a sport business major set to graduate in April, and Barbara Caldwell, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Accounting and Computer Information Systems, represented Saint Leo University at an ambitious leadership academy program sponsored by the academic honor society Sigma Beta Delta. The international society for majors in business, management, and administration organized a specialized three-day conference in late January to groom student-members in global leadership skills.

Senior and Faculty Mentor Selected for Business Leadership Academy Lofty goals were set for the students, all of whom were from colleges and universities with Sigma Beta Delta chapters. The students and their faculty mentors were assigned to read the recent business title, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, by noted social scientist James H. Fowler, Ph.D., (pictured with Barbara Caldwell, left, and Amanda Simmons, right) and Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. Next, the students, working in teams, were asked to present ideas for projects in which they would apply management and organizational skills, along with social networking, to help Sigma Beta Delta “make a difference for humanity.”

The student teams came up with some extraordinary ideas, from which just a few were chosen as projects to consider for action, Caldwell related. One was that students could use social media sites to encourage other students to save money by eating out less frequently, and donating that money to one of the international organizations that feeds the hungry in emerging nations. Another idea was to teach financial literacy to young children by working with an organization such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Both of these ideas centered on working with existing organizations, rather than starting new ones, to tackle problems in the most efficient way possible.

“I have become good friends with people from all over the world,” Simmons said of her experience. “One of my project teammates goes to college in Ohio, but is from Afghanistan. It was amazing to hear his stories and perceptions of the world.” In fact, Caldwell added, one of the ideas that emerged from that team was to sell scarves and other goods made by women in Afghanistan to help advance their cottage businesses and give them a better means of support.

“There were no bad ideas,” said Caldwell. “It was amazing to hear what these young adults are aware of. It was really encouraging. It was just a wonderful experience.” This was the first Leadership Academy run by Sigma Delta Beta, and more are anticipated. Saint Leo has had a chapter of the honor society since 1994.