Twenty-three Executive MBA students participated in a two-day sailing exercise on May 13-14 at the Long Beach Yacht Club as part of a Leadership Practicum course. Students divided into teams and learned to sail on 37-foot boats. While the students learned to sail themselves, they had the help of Mike Schoettle, a former member of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team who teaches professional growth planning; and Chris Lindsay, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who is the course instructor.
“This was truly a transformational experience,” said Rich Stafford, director of the Executive MBA program. “We chose sailing as an experiential learning exercise to develop leadership and team building skills.”
Corporations often use sailing as a team-building exercise, and LMU is the first Executive MBA program in the region to do so. The course concluded with a Sunday afternoon regatta that challenged the students to apply what they’ve learned in a short amount of time and work together under pressure. The winning team – “The 4 Wonders” – was made up of Rea Badillo Alim, Mona Kassem, Greg Root and Sasha Vitez.
“This experience taught me a great deal about the importance of teamwork, responsibility and dedication, said Mona. “LMU facilitates opportunities to keep building relationships and keep learning; this school is about helping one another, and that’s a key principle I want to incorporate in myself.”
“Our team was put in a new, high pressure situation and we were able to succeed through strategic thinking, effective communication and focusing on results,” added Greg. “It was an unforgettable experience I will utilize in the workplace moving forward.”
Teams were made up of a very diverse mix of students who come from seven different countries and work in a variety of industries, such as marketing, finance, human resources, accounting and engineering. Each team selected a leader and developed roles, responsibilities, communication norms and tactics that enabled them to successfully navigate open water.
“Sailing required each of us to fall back on some of the core business principles: clear and assertive communication; forfeiting personal ambitions in lieu of team goals; identifying individual strengths and allocating responsibilities to the right person,” said Sasha.
“My takeaway from this experience is that leadership is not only understanding your team’s strengths and weaknesses but making the right decisions at the right time and committing to it,” said Rea.