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Alumni in Action — Can We Count on You?

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Even though faculty in the Jindal School of Management emphasize practical decision making and real-world business scenarios in their teaching, JSOM students are always pushing us to go further. Students in my business communication courses appreciate — more or less! — the textbook and class assignments but often ask me, “Is this how communication is REALLY done in an office setting?” and “Do managers REALLY handle situations in this way?” Because of this desire for students to hear from “actual” professionals in “actual jobs,” I am constantly on the lookout for industry allies who want to build a bridge connecting students to “actually existing” business practice.

This is why I was extremely fortunate to be forwarded an email by Associate Dean Monica Powell late last year. The email was from Gonzalo Sanchez MBA ’09, vice president of corporate derivative marketing at JPMorgan Chase. Gonzalo is also a chairperson of JPMC’s Business Resource Group Adelante, which was recently chosen as the top employee group for Latinos by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Gonzalo was looking to create a mechanism to connect talented JSOM students to Adelante and give students a chance to interact with and learn from Adelante members. This was EXACTLY the kind of field experience that JSOM students crave, and I was happy to reach out to see what Gonzalo had in mind.

This was also attractive to me because I am the faculty advisor for the JSOM chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting. UTD ALPFA is an extremely active chapter, and I knew that members would be interested in taking advantage of whatever Gonzalo and I cooked up.

We decided to create a series of business communication workshops that would enable JSOM students and Adelante members to share experience on topics like effective email, workplace conflict resolution, phone etiquette and other practical business communication topics. Workshops were held at the JPMorgan International Plaza, only a few minutes from campus. I was pleased to see my former student Brandon Center BS, ’14, treasury sales associate at JPMorgan Chase, at the sessions and really appreciated his leadership in the small groups.

Each session began with a 15-minute mini-lecture from me about the topic of the week, and then each table broke apart to discuss the topic in small groups. ALPFA students loved being able to interact with banking and finance professionals and hearing their stories “from the trenches.” Adelante members told me they loved being able to interact with the “next generation” and that the sessions helped them to see that they were not alone in being frustrated by the occasional poorly written email or challenging phone conversation. As for me, I love getting people talking and sharing business communication experiences, and so I found the sessions to be very rewarding.

So, what is the moral of this story? There are several, but I think the most important for readers of this blog is that ALUMNI MATTER. None of this would have happened if Gonzalo hadn’t had a great idea and acted on it by getting in touch with a JSOM contact. Speaking on behalf of JSOM faculty, we not only encourage you to think about potential openings for similar collaboration opportunities in your company, we depend on it.

McClain Watson

McClain directs the Business Communication Program at JSOM. He teaches a lot of students, develops communication development programs for even more, and leads a passionate team of teachers who collectively impact even more. His favorite thing about his job is getting to know students as individuals and helping them reach their goals. He'd like to get to know you, too, so stop by his office (JSOM 4.415) anytime. Read more articles

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