Delivering Leadership | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Michael Rudd.

    As fall classes begin, 12 Thomas D. Arthur Graduate School of Business students will embark on an immersive master of business administration (IMBA) journey to take place over one academic year and culminate with an internship at an eastern North Carolina business.

    Arthur School leadership calls it the IMBA pathway, and the goal is to provide students with meaningful work experience by matching them with companies looking to fill leadership training and management-track positions. The students will take their classes together with select faculty and will complete their MBA in one year. The curriculum is the same core courses required of all ECU MBA students, which is flexible to allow students to fit their MBA pursuit into their current work schedule or lifestyle.

    "With this intensive, yearlong program, the students will not only have the MBA coursework and internship, but they will also participate in leadership training programs, professional networking and volunteer projects," said Dr. Linda Quick, associate dean of the Arthur School. "It's designed for them to boost their career opportunities and make them immediately valuable to any company that hires them."


    The IMBA is open for any ECU undergraduate to participate. This year's inaugural cohort, which was chosen by Arthur School leadership, includes:

  • Matthew Blount, public health, Greenville, North Carolina
  • Carter Cunningham, management, Haymarket, Virginia
  • Ashley Dickerson, management, Oxford, North Carolina
  • Joshua Furlough, management, Fuquay Varina, North Carolina
  • Jewel Herlong, finance, Marvin, North Carolina
  • Andrew Kerry, finance and risk management and insurance, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Jenna Mallberg, management information systems, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • Isaiah Rutledge, management, Greenville, North Carolina
  • Jenna Scott, fashion merchandising, Roxboro, North Carolina
  • Theodore Sielatycki, entrepreneurship, Cary, North Carolina
  • Carmen Smith, management, Tucson, Arizona
  • Grant Smith, marketing and entrepreneurship, Wake Forest, North Carolina

    Carmen Smith is pursuing her MBA because she wants to prepare for leadership positions in the future. Participating in the IMBA pathway, she hopes, will "build a network of connections and diverse experiences that strengthen my leadership qualities and knowledge."


    First-generation student Rutledge saw involvement with the IMBA pathway as an opportunity that would be impossible to pass up. "I am looking for a brighter light at the end of the tunnel. I want to be closer to my goals and my dreams," Rutledge said.

    "Building a strong professional network is a valuable outcome of what I want from the Immersive MBA program," Mallberg said. "I hope to connect with fellow students, alumni, faculty members and industry professionals to establish relationships that can lead to career opportunities, partnerships, mentorship and access to a wide range of resources."

    To provide those career opportunities, the Arthur School is recruiting companies to participate in the pathway. Fastenal and Hyster-Yale Group have committed to be pathway partners for the inaugural IMBA students.

    Ruth Anne Harrell is the talent acquisition manager for Hyster-Yale Group and currently serves on the IMBA steering committee. She is familiar with the Arthur School's MBA program, having received her Arthur MBA in 2008. Harrell is also familiar with the College of Business and East Carolina University. Her team regularly hires ECU interns and graduates to Hyster-Yale's Greenville campus. She says Hyster-Yale is excited to expand its partnership with ECU and the Arthur School's IMBA pathway.

    "This collaboration holds immense potential to foster innovative thinking and novel approaches within the realm of business leadership," Harrell said. "Our team eagerly anticipates hosting these bright, forward-thinking students for their internships (in the summer of 2024), offering them an enriching hands-on experience that dovetails with their academic journey."

    And that hands-on experience started early with a recent trip to Hyster-Yale, where the IMBA students received a tour of the facilities. They also had the opportunity to meet with Hyster-Yale leadership, including Charles F. Pascarelli, senior vice president and president, Americas for Hyster-Yale Group, who told the students, "The chapters you are going to write will be beautiful chapters. Trust your journey."

    When that journey begins, the IMBA students and the pathway partners will be involved in a unique approach that delivers leadership and career opportunities.

    "The IMBA pathway is about providing access to future leaders who are poised to contribute to management and leadership roles immediately," Quick said. "At the College of Business and Arthur School, we build leaders. That is what we do."


    Each IMBA student receives a full scholarship and a paid graduate assistantship position for an investment of $25,000 per student. They will receive an additional $10,000 for their internship. In total, the College of Business and the Arthur School plan to invest more than $500,000 in the inaugural IMBA pathway, a number that is destined to grow as the Arthur School plans to double the number of participants for the second and future cohorts.

    "ECU's strategic plan states we will be future focused and innovation driven," said Dr. Mike Harris, interim dean, College of Business. "With our IMBA investment and our approach to meeting the goals of the strategic plan, we expect the ROI of both to be immeasurable."
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