“Oh God!”, I reflexively yelled as I came out of the American Airlines terminal at the Dallas Fort Worth International airport on Thursday last week. Even at 8:30 in the night, it was 105 degrees. For the MBAA board traveling from Midwest or East Coast, it was a huge jump in temperature. However, it took us only a while to adjust to the change in temperature as we prepared to experience the sixth largest metropolitan economy in US (and in my opinion, the city with the best cuisine). Shortly after landing, I rendezvoused with Ashley (VP Communications). Kelly from the MBA office welcomed us and gave us a ride to the hotel where the OrgSync Connect Conference was being held.
The Illinois MBA Office, specifically Kelly O’Neill and Karen Myers, arranged for the MBAA board to attend the conference as the MBA program transitions into a unified communication tool OrgSync. Planning events and communicating announcements were a challenge for the program as different offices used different tools. The MBA Office realized this need for unified communication and is spending every bit of effort on its implementation. MBAA being the primary student body forms the primary link between the MBA Office and the students for most co-curricular activities. The MBAA board was flown to Dallas to attend the OrgSync implementation conference where they will attend various sessions and meet representatives from other schools who have successfully implemented the tool.
After settling in our comfortable rooms, we were all set to learn and experience the conference the next morning. Board members Alexander and Bobur arrived later in the night with Steven (MBAA president) arriving early in the morning. We had the most important meal of the day at 8:30 AM as we started networking with representatives from other schools. Kelly introduced the board to many of the representatives from other schools. We soon realized that the Illinois MBA group was the largest in the conference; a pleasant surprise. As we entered the conference hall, we noticed a long table full of university “swag” (branded goods and decorations) from all over the US. As always, it was impossible to miss the bright orange Illinois swag shining on the blue table. The conference representatives informed us about a certain “Best Swag Award” to be presented at the end of the night.
We were intrigued and excited by the keynotes, speeches and learning exercises throughout the day as it was a new learning experience for us. We attended different sessions based on our positions in the MBAA board. The web development and the member’s management sessions were particularly of highest value to me. A visit to OrgSync’s HQ followed the sessions, where dinner and drinks were arranged for the attendees. Ben Moore and Jirapa Wongwanich, our fellow classmates spending summers in Dallas, joined us for this visit.
Kelly excitingly informed us about our selection as one of four finalists for The Best Swag award, which we had forgotten about by now… and that everyone had 2 hours to vote. The Illinois ‘folks’, as we were referred to, dispersed like honeybees looking for honey to campaign and get as many votes as possible. The pride that we take in our identity was clear as we campaigned to other schools to vote for Illinois. Our team hooted as we were announced as the winners of the award by a whopping 56% votes against the 54% consisting of three other schools: another proud moment for the Illinois MBA.
Energized and excited about the future development of OrgSync, we had our debrief meeting with Kelly in which we discussed our action plan to implement the platform. The highlighted goal of the debrief was to implement all required action items before the end of summer so that the new MBA class faces as little challenge in adoption as possible. Overall, the credit goes to the MBA Office for involving the MBA students in the decision making process as they rollout and improve this communication platform. The OrgSync conference felt like a reunion of old friends, even though we were meeting only a month into summer. It made us realize how dearly we miss our school and we were so not ready to accept that we only have one year left!