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Center provides chance to hear top leaders

Dozens of University of North Georgia (UNG) business students and community business leaders attended the 2014 Leadercast, which featured Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his work in opposing apartheid in South Africa, former First Lady Laura Bush, and "Braveheart" screenwriter Randall Wallace.

A group of 75 business students, faculty and administrators attended
the Leadercast event in Atlanta.

Leadercast is an annual one-day leadership event in Atlanta that highlights world-renowned leaders who share their insights about successful and effective leadership. The BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership at UNG sponsored 75 people to attend the live event and also hosted a live stream broadcast of the event for more than 120 others to connect business students and faculty members with their peers and employers in the business community. Most of UNG's business faculty and administration from the Mike Cottrell College of Business also attended the live and simulcast events.

More than 150,000 people across the globe participated in the event that featured 11 speakers, including award-winning journalist Malcolm Gladwell and leadership expert Simon Sinek.

"The speakers were very influential; it was great to see the atmosphere and hear them talk about their experiences," said Taylor White, a student in UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business who attended the live event. "The theme was inspiring, and I enjoyed the way many of the speakers were down to earth and how they presented themselves."

The BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership, a unit of the Mike Cottrell College of Business, uses opportunities like Leadercast to help students and community members branch out beyond the hard skills of business to focus on tools such as ethical leadership and communication.

"One of our goals is to grow and support the region by bringing together high school students, college students, community members and business professionals to identify common ground and eliminate any disconnect between the groups," said Rose Procter, director of the BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership. "This process helps our faculty members teach those skills that employers are looking for, and helps our employers recognize the values that are important to our graduates."

The theme of this year's Leadercast was "Beyond You," and speakers urged individuals to consider the larger community around them to become effective leaders.

"The focus of the entire day was thinking beyond yourself as a central element of your leadership philosophy," said James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and graduate of the Cottrell MBA program at UNG. "Each speaker had a different thought about the power in honoring the dignity of others and giving them the freedom to experience self-determination and real freedom. Hearing new and different ideas in honoring those values in a leadership capacity was incredibly valuable and inspiring."

The theme also reinforced the center's initiative to "bridge the gap" across the generations of business people, Proctor said.

"We want each group to realize the value of the others, including the resources they have to offer," Procter said. "For example, younger students may feel that their employers are out of touch with current communication methods, and may dismiss that group's expertise in personal interaction. The older generation of business leaders may feel that their younger employees are lacking in concrete communication methods such as phone calls, and may fail to leverage the younger group's skill with technology like social media."

Procter said facilitating successful communication across generations helps build a strong business culture, which in turn builds strong ethics and strong employees. The theme and content of Leadercast segued nicely into this initiative, as it helped all of those in attendance to visualize these concepts, Procter said.

The BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership's primary objective is to create value in developing ethical business leaders and to become a catalyst for ethical thought, analysis and engagement in the north Georgia region, supporting the mission of the Mike Cottrell College of Business and UNG by preparing students to serve as leaders in their communities and in a diverse and global society.

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