Meaningful Leadership: Master of Management Program Celebrates 40 Years

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By Sandra Mitchell '91

While attending his daughter’s volleyball tournament on campus, Gregory Richardson spotted an advertisement for the College’s Master of Management (MM) program. The program celebrates 40 years in 2018, and it has evolved greatly in that time. Richardson is a prime candidate for the current-day MM program, which offers a broader view of business.

Already a leader at work and church, Richardson — with a few career and personal goals in his back pocket — was ready to enhance and expand his management skills and opportunities. Seeing that advertisement was a sign it was time to move forward with earning a graduate degree.

Richardson put himself through school, earning his bachelor of business administration and management from Baker college while working in manufacturing. After receiving his degree, he went on to work as a pharmaceutical sales rep and also served in a variety of roles at AT&T. In 2015, Richardson was hired as a contract sales manager at Herman Miller. He’s working toward increasing responsibility as a leader. Richardson endeavors to earn his Master of Management degree in order to gain knowledge and skills to support this goal.

“The Master of Management program is a great platform from which to have an impact,” Richardson said. “Each course comes from a different angle; each one is good for me from a leadership standpoint. I also really enjoy that the majority of the learning is in the classroom so you get a chance to talk with other professionals… They share their experience, knowledge and ideas. What I’m learning at Aquinas is transforming my career and everyday life.”

The AQ Master of Management is celebrating its 40th year. The program’s mission is professional development for those wanting to provide meaningful leadership within their organizations. While the course content, requirements and electives have changed throughout the years, the mission endures. The Master of Management program has graduated nearly 1,700 students, many of whom have leadership roles within organizations.

“Aquinas’ Master of Management program offers a broad view of business,” said Cynthia VanGelderen, interim director of Graduate Management Programs. “Our graduate students learn to think strategically, understand organizational culture and effectively motivate the people who power a business.”

Richardson finds he’s able to balance the program’s requirements with work, family and church. “You have to stay on top of the work, but it’s doable. I like the eight-week class structure. Even if it’s the hardest class in the world, I buckle in, and in eight weeks I’m done. That’s how I look at it — I make each class into a small goal.”

Richardson is active in his church and also finds his education helpful to his ministry. He provides leadership and support for church trainings and fundraisers.

Richardson and his wife also share a vision to begin a resource center that will help those struggling with navigating the job market. Their plan is to focus on personal and professional career development by offering a training curriculum, job skills development, resume writing assistance and even spiritual guidance.

“Leadership is a focus for me, whether it’s at work, with nonprofits or with church activities,” Richardson said. “I concentrate on trying to make people better. I believe the best way to do that is by becoming the best person I can be, then mentoring or sponsoring others.”

“The Master of Management program is enhancing my leadership skills, reinforcing the things I already know and opening up new opportunities. Through the program, I’m growing my leadership skills holistically.”

The Master of Management faculty and staff recognize 40 years as a great program achievement and are celebrating the benchmark. At the same time, they are looking to the future.

“The responsibilities of managers and leaders within organizations continue to be critical as organizations move forward in rapidly changing environments,” VanGelderen said. “The mission remains as important as it was 40 years ago. We expect new courses and content as organizational dynamics and management expectations continue to evolve.”