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What would you do? Sophomores tackle real-world communications scenarios

Undergraduate | Jun 26, 2018 |

“This morning, your CEO was accused of insider trading but claims innocence. You will meet with a CNN reporter to do damage control in five minutes. What will you say?

This was just one of the questions asked of Gabelli School students in the 2018 Leadership Communication Laboratory.

Organized by Kimberley LaMarque Orman, clinical assistant professor, and held as a final exam for more than 500 sophomores, this year’s simulation was facilitated by communication professionals from companies including Edelman, M Booth, PwC, and Sony. The experience gave students the chance to demonstrate their skills in areas like crisis communication, negotiation, and intercultural communication.

Below, professionals who assessed the students’ performance share feedback and advice.

On student responses to scenarios presented in the simulation:

“I thought how they handled the crisis situation with the CEO … they were asked to do in five minutes what we’re asked to do over the course of a day… they thought on their feet really well.” —Dylan Abolafia, account executive, public affairs, Edelman

“…their financial approach to a lot of their communications was surprising in a good way, in that they really are paying attention to financial impacts things have on a business, and also how to look at solving the problem by looking at the finances.” Barbara Ross Miller, former senior marketing leader, digital content strategist, Sony

On how the Leadership Communication Laboratory challenges relate to real-world scenarios:

“Crisis management is something I have to worry about because what I do is related to data and connected to consumer privacy and ethics… I’m always very cognizant about the things that I say and how they are conveyed and maybe picked up.” Orchid Richardson, vice president and managing director, Data Center of Excellence, IAB

“Within the business simulation, you have to give and receive feedback to the members in your team, and that’s something that happens day-to-day in an accounting firm or any firm.” Kaitlin Karcher, Gabelli BS ’16, MS ’17, tax associate, banking, capital markets, and insurance, PwC

On recommendations for students as they prepare for business careers:

“When you’re in any sort of negotiationwhether it’s with a supplier, whether it’s with a CNN reporterbe on the defense, but don’t be defensive… Keep a negotiation as a two-way conversation, even in an unfriendly interview.” Terry Sheridan, FCRH ’83, managing editor, radio reporting and breaking news specialist, WSHU Public Radio

“The challenge in communications is twofold. One is to adjust your message to your audience, and two is to think and frame your message so [you] are clear and concise in [your] delivery. This was a wonderful opportunity to practice those skills…” Karen Solorow, president, executive/career coach, Coaching for Success, LLC

“…even though most of the scenarios were set up to focus on the CEO or the senior executives… really everybody at an organization is a communicator. You want to make sure that all of the employees are on the same page around the message that the company is putting out.” Jacquette M. Timmons, president and CEO, financial behaviorist, Sterling Investment Management

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