The Collegian
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Business school hosts C Suite Conversations

The Robins School of Business' C Suite Conversations highlight local leaders and executives in a speaker series.

The series is designed to bring in people of responsibility and conduct unscripted conversations on leadership skills and decision making in front of an audience.

Richard Coughlan, senior associate dean of the business school, created the series while Queally Hall was being designed, he said.

The new building has the space to hold larger speaking events such as this series, which the business school couldn't hold previously, he said.

The conversations are free to attend and open to the Richmond public, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, Coughlan said. He said he saw the conversations as educational opportunities for everyone.

"The conversations allow for the business community to come to Richmond and everyone intermingle," he said.

More than 120 people attended the first conversation featuring men's basketball head coach Chris Mooney, Coughlan said. And the range of ages represented at the event was across the board, he said.

Jessica Barnes, a Richmond alumna who graduated in 2005 and attended the event, also noticed the variety of ages in the room. "The room was full of people from 18 years old to people who were in their 60s or 70s," she said.

She said having Mooney as the first guest speaker had been a great decision because it began the series with someone who was closely tied to the school and who would attract a crowd.

Four more conversations are scheduled for November, January, March and May, and Barnes said she planned on attending all of them.

On the day of the event the conversation starts at 8 a.m., but breakfast is served for free at 7:30 a.m. for all who attend, Coughlan said. "This is a great aspect of C Suite because it's a time for students to shake hands with alumni and local executives and really network," Coughlan said.

Coughlan said there had been several other local executives in the audience who were walking around before the event and speaking with students.

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Alice Boothroyd, an exchange student from London who is studying at Richmond for the year, attended the event. She said there was nothing like this at her university at home.

Part of what makes this program unique is the casual setting, Boothroyd said. "It's really interesting to see how these people of authority deal with questions on the spot," she said. "You get to watch how they handle situations and then understand their decision making process."

Coughlan said his role as the interviewer was to prod as much as he could into the lives and minds of the guest. "I try to make sure I do as much homework as I can," he said. "I want to be able to look them eye-to-eye and have a conversation that people will want to be a part of without looking at notes."

Lindsey Daniels, a senior in the business school did not attend the first C Suite Conversation, but said she liked the concept.

"It's unique that this series isn't a lecture," she said. "It's also interesting that it is open to the public because it represents a more realistic setting you would see in the business world with all types of ages talking about different industries."

The next C Suite Conversation is scheduled for Nov. 17, Coughlan said. It will feature Michael Dan, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Brink's Company.

Contact reporter Rachael Bilney at

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