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Target Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, September 17, 2007

IU's Kelley School to create leadership development program for students with major gift from Target

Theresa Williams

Theresa Williams

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Starting this fall, more than 1,200 undergraduate majors each year in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business will benefit from a new, hands-on leadership development program being created through a generous grant from Target.

The grant will enable the school to create a comprehensive leadership development program, which will weave through every aspect of students' undergraduate experience in the Kelley School, beginning with I-Core, its integrated core program, and potentially concluding with additional certification at graduation.

"Target is a very progressive company," said Dan Smith, dean of the Kelley School. "The Target brand is widely recognized and is associated with quality products and an exciting environment in which to shop and work. It is an honor to have their support for this important initiative."

Target President Gregg Steinhafel added, "Target has a leadership culture that enables us to attract the best team members and help them achieve their full potential, whether at work or in their communities. Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business share our passion for leadership, and we are pleased to partner with them to help develop the next generation of leaders."

The Kelley School will formally thank Target at an event for its students on Nov. 2 featuring Laysha Ward, Target vice president of community relations, and John Sweeney, a corporate trainer and author of the book, Innovation at the Speed of Laughter: 8 Secrets to World Class Idea Generation (Aerialist Press, 2005).

The Target Excellence in Business Leadership program will connect students with mentors who will coach students and help them pursue leadership development opportunities. It will feature workshops and other programming that connects students with inspiring and successful leaders.

In addition to helping students improve their leadership skills, mentors also will coach students on how to convey their experiences and knowledge to prospective employers.

"Our students have always been exceptionally well-trained, both functionally and technically. But in today's flatter, more diverse and team-oriented organizations, the need for leadership skills has never been greater," said M.A. Venkataramanan, chair of the undergraduate program at Kelley. "This substantial grant will enable Kelley to stand apart from other business schools in terms of the leadership experiences it can provide students and the companies who later hire them."

The Kelley School has long offered its students opportunities for leadership growth through coursework and service learning projects. While a behavioral leadership assessment has been required for all juniors in the Kelley School, there wasn't a way for students to showcase their skills for future employers.

Many Kelley students already actively seek leadership opportunities. A large group of students last year organized a new philanthropy on campus, IU Circle of Life, which sponsored a mini marathon to raise money for a scholarship for cancer survivors. Another group of students successfully sought the CNBC "Mad Money" program and brought it to campus last semester. Many other students participate in volunteer programs throughout the year organized by Kelley's Civic Leadership Development Program.

The Target Excellence in Business Leadership program will provide students with a way to develop, hone and highlight their leadership skills within an organized framework. This will help students get the most out of their experiences and document their progress in the program.

For three consecutive years, Target has been the top hiring company at Kelley for full-time jobs and internships for their Minneapolis-based corporate headquarters. But many of the 865 companies who recruit students at Kelley have expressed a desire for the kind of training that the Target Excellence in Business Leadership program will provide.

M.A. Venkataramenan

M.A. Venkataramenan

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"Leadership is something that is becoming more important in every industry," said Theresa D. Williams, director of the Center for Education and Research in Retailing in the Kelley School. "It has been a recurring theme from all major recruiters that they are looking for students who are able to demonstrate leadership. They are seeking students who go beyond team participation and lead others.

"With the help of Target, we will be providing students with tools that exceed leadership assessment and help the student to enhance their leadership skills, and to document their development over their time spent at Kelley," Williams added.

This fall, students entering Kelley's integrated core program will begin developing Leadership Evaluation and Development (LEAD) portfolios, which are designed to be a record of their experiences, similar to that of a college transcript.

Students will gain understanding into their current level of leadership and then work with a coach who will suggest specific activities to help them develop more advanced levels of leadership.

The Target Excellence in Business Leadership Program will include:

  • A leadership plan process for each student, kicking off with an I-Core event and extending throughout the remainder of the student's time at Kelley. Students completing the program will have a leadership portfolio to document leadership experiences and use as a resource in their career search;
  • Top leadership speakers from Target and other public and private organizations;
  • A behavioral leadership assessment that will highlight student strengths and developmental needs, and will form the basis for a personal development plan;
  • An electronic leadership evaluation and development planning portfolio designed to help students record, reflect on and plan a leadership portfolio that will be shaped by required efforts within Kelley, as well as through service learning activities;
  • Leadership coaches who will counsel students on personal leadership development plans and strategies; and
  • A possible leadership skills certificate, awarded to a select number of students who meet set program criteria and achieve high scores an assessment process.

"Today's business students demand a cutting edge curriculum and opportunities to demonstrate leadership in a way that cultivates civic and corporate responsibility," Venkataramaramanan said. "This grant and other initiatives at Kelley and Indiana University will enable our students to fulfill their dreams. Future students have commented that these initiatives make IU and the Kelley School a desired destination, and our current matriculation rate reflects the same."