Launched in 2009 to complement traditional learning opportunities at the University of Richmond, the MBA Dinner Series involves small, private gatherings of MBA students, alumni, and corporate friends in conversation on a specific business topic. Each dinner is held in a private residence, providing a forum for individuals to interact, learn from each other, build new networks, and promote the School. The dinners allow executives to share their expertise with MBA students while promoting the strength of our MBA students to alumni and corporate friends. The series also engages alumni more deeply in the affairs of The Richmond MBA.

After brief introductions, each dinner begins with our executive guests sharing anecdotes about their experiences with the dinner topic. The dinners are very interactive and, as the evening progresses, students and executives insert more in-depth stories about the topic of discussion.

MBA student Patricia Wescott, a participant in a recent dinner on the topic of authentic leadership, said the program “not only allows us to network, but also to really understand the struggles and experiences of others.” In her view, the executive guests “provide a fresh voice with experience, understanding, optimism, as well as constructive criticism.” Dinner host Susan Hogg, president of circle S studio, said she “enjoyed the casual, fireside approach of the dinner, as this atmosphere inspired authentic discussion.”

Regarding another dinner focused on the art of networking, recent MBA graduate Paulina Hidalgo said that she “appreciated the opportunity to continue to meet fellow MBAs and inspiring business people from the community.” After receiving the notes from this dinner, MBA student Sarah Moore said, “It was nice to read through the [dinner notes] again; I plan on taking a few of the points and posting them at my desk to inspire me when I need some confidence or a boost.”

The most recent event in the MBA Dinner Series took place in spring 2010. Held in the home of serial entrepreneur Karen Booth Adams, the topic of this dinner conversation was Entrepreneurial Start-up Lessons. The discussion was facilitated by Professor Doug Bosse and guests included Robins School alumnus Joel Erb, President and CEO INM United, and John Fernandez, CEO of Daystar Desserts. One prospective MBA student and eight current MBA students attended the dinner.

Some of the key knowledge points generated during this dinner included being open to opportunities even if they don’t fit into your original model. The entrepreneurs emphasized the importance of remaining flexible and knowing how to say “no” to a client who asks you to do something that takes your focus away from your passion.

The next dinner will be held in July in the Toano, Virginia home of David Christian, CEO of Dominion Generation. The topic of conversation for this dinner will be, “What is the cost of carbon?”