Friday, November 12, 2010

Wine and Dine on MBA Time

Good institutional culture starts at the top and is disseminated downward through communication and action that follows that communication. One of the greatest things I appreciate about culture here at one of the top masters of business administration programs is the variety in interests of our professors, and their accompanying personalities. We've got our sport nuts, out-doors types, rule-benders and rule sticklers. Their personal passions bring a special flavor though to each lesson.

Take Dean Smith. The Kelley Wine Club, one of 52 clubs within the two year MBA program, provides opportunities for students to taste and learn about wine. Wine is an international presence in many casual business settings, and refinement and knowledge in the subject can provide a great advantage when communicating around the world. The Dean, it just so happens, is a wine connoisseur, and offered to host a wine tasting one evening for MBA students (and their partners).

Now I want to make a distinction here - the Dean is a connoisseur, not a "wine snob." He's passionate about the art of cultivating vines and educating others to share in something he finds absolutely fascinating. None of this is done with a sense of entitlement - it's done with one of the distinguishing factors of the "Kelley Culture:" collaborative education.

The Dean spent the evening guiding roughly 100 students through cultivation, how the process of growing grapes works, geographic meanings in wines, how to order wine, how to taste wine and the culture around wine. It was an evening full of laughter and fun insights.

We had asked the Dean where the best wine list was in Bloomington, and he said "Lennie's." He also joked that there was a secret wine list just for Kelley students that Lennie's Sommelier (wine expert) only knows. A student and I wanted to test this theory, so last night we brought our significant others to Lennie's to try out the wine.

And sure enough, one of the top ranked MBA colleges, the Kelley School of Business, maintains a private, off-menu wine list.

We had a delightful night talking about our classes, professors and different industries. Our server turned out to be an undergraduate in the business program, and was looking to become a part of the best entrepreneurship MBA program upon graduation, Kelley, to stay in the dining industry afterwards. No matter where you go on this campus, you find brilliant young minds who are considering careers in business - they've come to the right place.

Most likely, you're going to get brilliant professors and leaders at most of the schools you're looking at. But where else are you going to find well-rounded, fascinating people who are not only going to give you the best business education, but enrich your life outside of the classroom as well?

Come for a visit, we'll order off-menu for you.

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