The Power of Connections and Values-Based Leadership
Flex MBA student Scott Shirk M.B.A. ’13, understands the power of connections and values-based leadership, two preeminent ideas at the William & Mary Mason School of Business. As manager of two Newport News bulk terminals for energy company Kinder Morgan, he has hired one fellow Flex MBA student and successfully recommended the hiring of another. “Flex MBA students are extremely bright and hard-working,” Scott says, “and these two individuals had just the right skill sets and values to be a wonderful fit with Kinder Morgan.” Flex MBA students not only get career coaching and the opportunity to interview for jobs at William & Mary; they hire each other! This is just one facet of the power of a part-time MBA program in which all the students are full-time professionals. The networking opportunities are everywhere.
Scott also makes a point of interacting with our very well-connected faculty. Scott met Professor Jim Bradley during a lunch last year at the McGlothlin Leadership Forum held in Miller Hall. This conversation resulted in Scott Shirk playing VIP tour director at his terminals for Professor Bradley and his Enterprise Engineering MBA class.
“The tour was an overwhelming success,” said Professor Bradley, “because Scott described in an engaging way how Kinder Morgan and the Pier IX/X terminals operate. We had a very lively debrief afterwards.” William & Mary MBA faculty are adept at aligning resources to support our signature experiential business education. Scott Shirk understands how these relationships work and he is a strong contributor.
So why is Scott earning an MBA when he is already so successful? He was recruited by Kinder Morgan because of the leadership, values and operations expertise he brought as a West Point graduate, Army infantry officer (including combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan), and trainer at the Army Officer Candidate School. However, Scott did not have a formal business education to undergird his operations and leadership savvy. When Kinder Morgan asked him to earn an MBA, he chose William & Mary’s Flex MBA Program for its academic excellence and because the evening classes fit his busy professional and family schedule
“The W&M Flex MBA Program is the real deal,” says Scott emphatically. “It has completely changed the way I manage business finances. Accounting, finance, econ – all those core classes had an immediate impact. I learned to manage P&L the way I manage operations. Now I am involved in financing opportunities, capital projects and acquisitions. You truly do not know what you do not know. Now I know, and that is what is meant by ‘education.’ ”
“The class ‘Managing Change’ with Professor Allen Slade crystallized for me what I truly love to do,” says Scott enthusiastically. “I have always had a natural affinity for organizational behavior and leadership, and I asked Professor Slade to coach me formally, using a values-based leadership approach.” Scott Shirk was apparently an excellent student; he is now a part-time consultant with Slade & Associates, contributing in the areas of values-based leadership and change management.
Scott Shirk has helped to delineate the values of Kinder Morgan by championing its Core Principles and developing company culture through training trips to Kinder Morgan’s myriad sites across the country. Scott manages by these principles under the overarching value, "Do the Right Thing Every Day." Merging leadership, education and practice under the constant guidance of strong values makes Flex MBA student Scott Shirk a true Mason School of Business success story.