Carnegie Mellon University
August 31, 2012

Press Release: New Accelerate Leadership Center Introduces a Personalized, Behavioral-Focused Initiative in Developing MBAs' Management Skills

Contact: Mark Burd / 412-268-3486 /                   

Accelerate Center LogoPITTSBURGH—The start of a new academic year brings a new approach to MBA education at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, pairing one of the world's most rigorous analytic curriculums with an initiative that constructs a personalized strategy for each student toward building strong leadership and communication expertise. The program is designed to increase students' speed-to-productivity upon graduation and to create the next generation of business leaders, who can master complexity in the marketplace and effectively lead global organizations.

The initiative will be administered by the newly organized Accelerate Leadership Center.  Led by Director Laurie Weingart, the Carnegie Bosch Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory, and Associate Director Evelyn Pierce, associate teaching professor of Management Communications, the center will spearhead mandatory co-curricular activities for all MBA students, including a comprehensive assessment of each student's skills through a partnership with Development Dimensions International (DDI).

"One unique element of this new initiative is its focus on personalization," said Robert Dammon, dean of the Tepper School. "Each student now receives personal assessment of their abilities upon arrival and, based on this, we will then work with them individually to develop an action plan and to provide coaching through the Accelerate Center and practice through the classroom and co-curricular activities. When they graduate, they will leave with tremendous analytical talent coupled with an outstanding ability to effectively lead teams and organizations."

The program was piloted during the past two years with more than 100 MBA student volunteers and has had remarkable success. This is the first time that DDI's Manager Ready assessment, a program deployed by many corporations worldwide, has been utilized in an educational environment.  Leaders at the Accelerate Center contend that assessing and instilling positive leadership and communication habits makes perfect sense as part of an MBA curriculum.

"The standard approach to teaching leadership is attitudinal — introducing speakers and case examples that address how individuals think," Weingart said. "While there is some value in that concept, a better means to results is a behavioral approach, requiring the continual application of skills throughout the MBA, and based on a student's individual needs. We look at the new program as leadership embedded in the curriculum. In addition to the coaching provided by our center, faculty will be apprised of students' needs to foster classroom application."

The Accelerate Center also will work with the Carnegie Bosch Institute (CBI), which is housed at the Tepper School of Business, to develop and administer a Leadership Immersion Workshop — a three-day program during the first year that will provide an intensive focus on students' intercultural and team leadership skills. The CBI's insights, learning and international experience adds valuable skill sets to the program, including intercultural awareness, the fostering of cooperation and effective feedback processes.

The Tepper School's new MBA curriculum begins with an extensive multi-week orientation program called BaseCamp during which students receive an integrated view of business with an emphasis on how core disciplines and business functions work together.  Course schedules also have been realigned to position business fundamentals as the core, first-year emphasis. Electives and capstone courses, which enable students to apply their learning to real-world business situations, will follow in the second year.