As a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team in the early 1980s, Greg Stokes learned a few things about leadership and teamwork. Stokes recently learned quite a bit more about both of those important topics through the St. Ambrose Master of Organizational Leadership program.
The graduate-level degree program, begun in 2000, will graduate its 400th student at winter commencement. The program is designed to help students develop leadership and people skills that will help them succeed and advance in the workplace.
Through once-per-week, nighttime classes and eight-week courses, the program also is built to accommodate working adults. A unique partnership provides SAU classes at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is where Stokes earned his MOL degree in 2011.
Debbie Schwiebert '07 MOL was looking to cross an item off her bucket list when she enrolled in the program in her early 50s. Classroom discussions with fellow students 10, 20 and even 30 years younger were a highlight of her MOL experience. "The combination was stimulating, inspiring and substantive," she said.
The substance surrounds the important distinctions between leadership and management, the value of strategic thinking, planning and communicating, and the power of teamwork in pursuit of agreed upon objectives.
A global manager of marketing and sales for Deere and Co., Schwiebert found that focus applicable to her professional and personal life. "I felt I could not only develop myself but also develop the people who report to me," she said.
Jake Montague, a 29-year-old student on track to earn his MOL degree in December 2014, came to his job as a supply management specialist at Deere two years ago, intent on never again holding a supervisory position.
Now, having studied concepts such as conflict management, decision making and team building, he feels prepared to lead again in the workplace.
"Because of what the MOL has taught me, challenged me with, forced me to look at within myself," he said, "I believe I can not only do the job, but I can do the job well and effectively."