EMPLOYEES FROM GLOBAL MARITIME STEWARD CAN UPSKILL THROUGH WORKING PROFESSIONALS MBAS AND BUSINESS CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS
The corporate partnership between the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and the Port of Virginia grants employees from the fifth largest port in the U.S. access to William & Mary’s world-class faculty, applicable and real-world learning opportunities, and the ability to upskill through professional MBA and business certification programs. In return, the Mason School benefits from building relationships with the Port’s team of expert professionals who account for nearly 10 percent of the state’s workforce.
Cathie Vick, who serves as the Chief Development and Government Affairs Officer, says the symbiotic relationship between the Port and the Mason School has strengthened over the last several years bringing added benefits to both organizations.
“We hosted a two-week long Sprint Exercise where teams of MBA students looked at different industry challenges facing the Port and through a competition, analyzed and presented possible solutions to a panel of senior leaders. Both the students and my colleagues at the Port learned from one another and I found it helpful to host an exercise like that because we gained new and different perspectives,” Cathie said. “We are always recruiting top talent so it was a good opportunity for the students to be exposed to what we do at the Port, get a hands-on look at real-world scenarios we face, and use some of the tools they learned through their program.”
One of the benefits offered exclusively to Mason School Corporate Partners, is the ability to supplement corporate learning and development needs through tailored business certification courses. The Port worked with faculty to design classes for mid-level and senior managers focused on finance, accounting, and other subjects.
“Before COVID, we would send colleagues from different disciplines within our organization to these one-week classes. Not only did they learn the content, they had an opportunity to collaborate with teammates and gain different perspectives which they then brought back and applied to their work at the Port,” said Cathie. “It was more than textbook learning; it was hands-on learning they could apply in real-time.”
Cathie herself attended the Mason School and earned her master’s in business administration through the Executive MBA program, which meets in-person, on campus over alternating weekends for 18 months. She says her experience in the program enhanced her leadership abilities as a member of the Port’s senior staff.
“For someone like me who is in the C-suite, the Executive MBA program provided me with a good view of our organization through different lenses,” she explained. “Before the program, I would sit in meetings about things that were not solidly within my discipline. After the Executive MBA experience, I understood them more completely, was able to ask the right questions, challenge assumptions, and ensure our team approached challenges and opportunities by considering different perspectives and all possible outcomes.”
Cathie attributes her success at the Mason School to the high caliber faculty who taught in the program.
“The accessibility of the professors was remarkable,” she said. “When you’re in the Executive MBA program, you’re in class every other week for two days and then you’re back to your regular life. They are mindful of that and were so helpful when we needed it.”
Additionally, she says having a strong support system comprised of her supervisor and coworkers at the Port, and her family at home, helped her to achieve her goals.
“It was all about good time management, planning, and communicating expectations among my team members and family to make sure I had the time to get my schoolwork done,” Cathie explained.
Whether it was through her own experience as a graduate business student, or by witnessing her colleagues upskill their abilities through one of the Mason School’s working professionals’ programs, Cathie says having access to William & Mary’s world-class education due to the Port’s Corporate Partnership with the university has brought incalculable benefits to her organization.
“I would not be as effective at my job today without that training,” she said. “We’ve seen similar results in smaller microcosms as our folks go through these classes and come back asking the right questions. I think having that knowledge has helped them differentiate themselves especially when it comes time for promotions or to move up to the next level.”