The Collegian
Tuesday, August 09, 2022

New leaders join staff of Robins School of Business

Collegian Reporter

E. Claiborne Robins School of Business staff members have selected six new members and a new chairman for the school's Executive Advisory Council.

This year's new members are John Adams, Deborah Armstrong, Brad Booker, Mark Cross, Joel Mier, Kim Scheeler and Craig Smith. The chairman of the board is now Robert Reynolds of Reynolds Development.

The Executive Advisory Council is a group of business leaders throughout the country who are nominated to the board. Jorge Haddock, dean of the business school, works with the council to improve the curriculum, internships and job opportunities for graduates.

The members are selected by a small nominating committee, which is composed of the chairman of the Advisory Council, the dean, a faculty member from the Office of Advancement and sometimes another faculty member, Haddock said. The majority of council members are from the Richmond area because of their accessibility, but there are members from around the country, he said.

Although students are not directly involved with the board, they are welcome to nominate business leaders, Haddock said. Students benefit from the connections the business school makes through the board because the connections result in internship and employment opportunities, he said. The current economy means that these connections are important to graduates.

Many of the new members were nominated to the board when the business school asked companies to select representatives for nomination. The school targets companies within the most popular business interests of the students, Haddock said. Many students are interested in finance and accounting, so it requests many representatives from those sectors, he said.

Deborah Armstrong, senior vice president of health care and institutions at Bank of America, was elected to her first term on the board. Although Richmond is Bank of America's client, this was not deemed as a conflict of interest. The board creates a dialogue between the school and employers that is beneficial to the students, she said.

Brad Booker is the executive vice president of commercial banking at Suntrust Bank in Richmond. The university requested a representative from the bank and Booker was selected, he said. In addition to 35 years of experience, he said that graduating from a liberal arts college had given him insight into what Richmond graduates would face.

"I became involved because the university reached out to Genworth and inquired about a person that could add value to the Advisory Council," said Joel Mier, vice president of global customer insights at Genworth Financial. He said he brought a unique perspective because he was originally from out of the area and the industry.

The president and CEO of Owens & Minor, Craig Smith, had also been selected for the board. Smith said the company had had a member on the council for several years. He said Owens & Minor provided one or two summer internships to Richmond students and was a large employer in the city.

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Besides offering employment and internships in their own companies, the members of the council will help the business school prepare graduates for employment in a strained economy.

"You have to look at practice versus theory," Smith said, "business schools and MBA programs always want people active in business."

Most members said the current economy was an obstacle that would be overcome.

"We see cycles all the time," Armstrong said. "We still need strong financial business minds out of the universities."

While he said that the government's economic package was a short-term fix to the problem, Booker also said that the council members' experiences and expertise should help the business school to prepare its students.

The Advisory Council, along with its new members and chairman, has the goal of improving the business schoool and keeping its graduates among the top in the country.

Contact writer Kaleigh Connoly at

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