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The Richmond MBA News & Notes

May 2017

MBA Community:


Spring is the most wonderful time of the year around The Richmond MBA. Students graduate, becoming full-fledged Richmond MBAs, joining more than 1,500 alumni of the program leading their organizations to flourish in RVA and around the world. Alumni gather on the greens for an afternoon of golf (or wine tasting) to reconnect and raise money for scholarships to help recruit and retain exceptional students. This issue of News & Notes focuses on these two events. 

You will read about the most recent graduation, where Robert Reynolds, GB‘98, shared inspirational words with our graduates, including the story of his great grandfather, Richard S. Reynolds, who established the Reynolds Metals Company, and after whom the graduate business school is named. The annual golf tournament added a new event this year for those who want to support the program but prefer a more relaxing time at the club – wine tasting paired with a golf lesson. 

The Richmond MBA is focused on connections – among students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the greater business community. We encourage you to renew your connections and join us in recognizing Mark Hourigan, GB’87, as the inaugural recipient of the “Impactful Alumni” award at our Reunion – Saturday, June 3 from 4-6pm, at the Forum overlooking the lake. Register on the Reunion Weekend website. We hope to see you there!

Randy Raggio
Associate Dean
Robins School of Business

Feature Stories

2017 MBA Commencement

MBA Alumni Society Golf Tournament

The Richmond MBA

Three time Richmond graduate seeks to advocate for teachers, students after latest degree program 

Jenny Andrews, GB'94, C'04, GC'16 is featured in the University of Richmond Newsroom for her dedication to education.

Executive Education

Mini MBA Reunion 
July 17, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Robins Stadium Suite

Upcoming Events

There are no events currently scheduled.

Career Corner with Tom Kemp, Executive in Residence

The Re-emergence of Soft Skills Leadership

“What people get admired and appreciated for in community are their soft skills; their sense of humor and timing, their ability to listen, their courage and honesty, and their capacity for empathy.” - M. Scott Peck

Recently, I attended a networking event for people in career transition. A corporate recruiter said, “Technical skills generally get you your first management or leadership opportunity, but your success after that will be based largely on the strength of your soft skills.”  She chimed in that when deciding between students with a 4.0 GPA and strong technical skills, versus students with a 3.5 GPA and strong soft skills, she most often selected the soft skilled candidate.

Her comments resonated with me. Effective leaders are often those that demonstrate the ability to work closely with people and build teams, all while demonstrating a healthy capacity for empathy, humility, and trustworthiness.

When we are hired for our first job it is typically for a specific skill we possess, or our ability to be taught a necessary technical or functional skill.  But when it comes time to move into a leadership opportunity, soft skills become critical to one’s success. This is hardly a new idea. After working with a number of leaders over the years, I have come to the undeniable conclusion that the strength of your soft skills will make or break you as a leader.

“We hire people for their skills, but the whole person shows up at work.” Chester Barnard 

Just 20 years ago, celebrity CEOs like Jack Welch, Al “Chainsaw” Dunlop, Dennis Kozlowski, and Donald Trump were hailed for their autocratic, hard-nosed leadership style. But at the same time, a new type of leader was emerging: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos, and others, who exemplified a more humanistic approach to leadership.

In 1996, Jim Collins introduced us to what he termed “Level 5 Leadership” in his international bestselling book, “Good to Great.”  Level 5 Leaders have a fierce resolve for success, but possess a strong sense of humanity that drives their behavior. Collins made the case for the direct correlation between Level 5 Leaders and the success of their organizations for a sustained period of time.  

His research revealed many traits of Level 5 Leaders: humility, transparent communication, responsibility, fostering an environment of shared mission and credit, a positive attitude, self-confidence, collaboration, and trustworthy.

While pressure mounts for leaders to produce short-term results and technology takes over many aspects of the professional world, the ability to understand people – largely through soft skills – is a not only a huge competitive advantage, but also a building block for employee engagement and sustained success for the organization.

To contact Tom, visit him in the Robins School of Business, office 122. His office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. You can also reach him by email at

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MBA Graduation Reception 2017

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