Executive Partners: Two Decades and Going Strong

The Executive Partners program at William & Mary's Business School is growing - and preparing for a transition.

But the unique program, in which retired executives coach and mentor undergraduate and graduate students in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business is showing no signs of slowing down.

The program enters 2019 with more than 140 volunteer Executive Partners (EPs) actively engaged with all Business School students. The total is up from about 120 two years ago and includes recent additions that have expanded the group's range of professional backgrounds, industry expertise and demographic makeup.

"Activity level continues to grow across all programs," says Terry Shannon, Executive Director of the program and an EP himself. "As our program offerings continue to grow and expand at the Business School, the EPs programs is working to add the right profiles covering these new areas to serve our students on a go-forward basis."

Recent additions to the program include:

  • A market president at a major international bank.
  • A senior vice president at an innovative small business that supports clients through change management, capacity building, coaching and leadership training.
  • A senior manager at a major entertainment company responsible for culture-change initiatives.
  • A recently retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who directs a global consulting organization that seeks to improve the effectiveness of military organizations.
  • A business operator with higher education experience who now provides advisory and placement services to antiques collectors and institutions.
  • The executive vice president and chief operating officer of a major insurance brokerage.
  • A senior manager in the consumer packaged goods industry with experience in marketing, sales, logistics, pipeline management and operations.
  • An entrepreneur in the printing industry who also has worked as a consultant, coach and mentor for government, health-care and commercial organizations.
  • A senior partner for an international talent recruitment firm who also is a consulting psychologist helping CEOs and boards of directors identify and accelerate the readiness of high-potential managers and executives.
  • A leader responsible for management programs at 15 U.S. Army installations and bases supporting the Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Army War College and the U.S. Military Academy.

The EPs work with full-, part-time, on-campus and online MBA students along with all undergraduate business school majors and minors, offering academic and career support and guidance. They also serve as mentors, and relationships often last long after the student has graduated. In addition, EPs support specific activities and events of the Raymond A. Mason School of Business's programs as well as projects in individual classes.
"It's a varied and great group, especially with the backgrounds and experiences of our new members," Shannon says. "We're growing our presence in all programs. We're constantly looking to grow because of the number of requests we have received from our faculty and administration to be involved."

In coming months, the program will experience another kind of transformation. Shannon is scheduled to step down as executive director, though the retired food industry executive will remain as an EP. The change is in keeping with the practice of the program director serving a three-year term, though Business School Dean Larry Pulley asked Shannon to remain an extra year as the program celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018 and prepared for a leadership transition.

Shannon said he is most proud of the expansion of the EPs program, a unique offering that sets William & Mary's Business School apart. He also is excited for the arrival of the new executive director, whose appointment will be announced in March and who will oversee the next phase of EPs growth.