New MBAs embark on problem-solving, team-building Quest in orientation
A series of outdoor problem-solving and team-building exercises will highlight a weeklong orientation that starts on Aug. 16 for new MBA students at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.
During Quest, MBA student teams will tackle a series of six challenges, including neutralizing a “radioactive isotope” — actually, a coffee can, which the students have to remove from a “toxic site” and place in a “safe container” (a bucket) without breaching the “contaminated area” around the can — moving through a “giant spider web” without touching it, and building a bridge to cross a “piranha-infested swamp.”
The aim of the exercises is to enable new students to “get to know one another in a fun and supportive atmosphere and to promote creative problem-solving and team-building skills,” says MBA associate director Barry O'Donnell, who organizes and leads the program and trains second-year MBA students to serve as facilitators for the new MBAs. “Teams are expected to work together to define the problem and set specific goals, brainstorm solutions, evaluate the alternatives, decide on a course of action, and execute it.”
Quest, he says, challenges students to trust their teammates, set goals, and learn positive ways to confront others and to accept criticism. These issues are further explored in debriefing discussions following the exercises. “We want to get across the idea that an MBA is more than books, research papers, tests, and a diploma.” Quest will take place on Friday, Aug. 20, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., on the lawns around Pamplin Hall, with the rain location being various Pamplin classrooms.
This year’s incoming MBA class comprises 54 students: 36 percent female, about 40 percent from other countries, about 75 percent with at least one full year of work experience, average age 25 years.
Orientation events included a welcome and information session, a meeting at which faculty discussed the stringent performance expectations for MBAs, a session with MBA alumni designed to help new students see the potential career impact of a Virginia Tech MBA, a discussion of the mission and structure of the Graduate Honor System, and a session on professional presentations.
In addition to the full-time MBA program at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus, the Pamplin College offers a part-time, Professional MBA program that meets in Roanoke and Richmond. A part-time MBA and an Executive MBA are both offered at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center, National Capital Region.