Ready to Lead

UConn students Billy Burke, Sarah Lang, Dan Glucksman, Kelly Yates, Quian Callender, and Stephen Porcello. (Tony Benner Photography)
UConn students Billy Burke, Sarah Lang, Dan Glucksman, Kelly Yates, Quian Callender, and Stephen Porcello. (Tony Benner Photography)

Ineffective crisis leadership can be detrimental to a company’s image and value. Hence it is of upmost importance to be ready to lead when things are going smoothly and when there are crises. Six UConn School of Business student leaders from the Honors in Business Association, UConn Consulting Group, and Undergraduate Business Association sought to learn effective crisis leadership at the 17th Annual Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conference (UBSLC) in February. The UBSLC is hosted by Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The three day student-run conference gave students the opportunity to explore the topic of leadership, specifically the theme of Crisis Leadership.

“The theme of this year’s conference was Crisis Leadership, a topic that I had never really considered until I attended the UBSLC,” says Kelly Yates ’18, vice president of events for the Honors in Business Association.

“Oftentimes students focus on the hard skills needed for their particular major as they go through college. It’s important to remember that regardless of one’s role in any organization, there is the potential for a crisis to occur and it will need to be resolved.”

Attendees heard from Dave Wilkinson, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Secret Service who was instrumental during a day of extreme crisis: September 11, 2001. Wilkinson served as the assistant special agent in charge of the Presidential Protection Division for Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Wilkinson shared his experience accompanying President George W. Bush the morning of September 11, 2001 and having to make critical decisions in the best interest of the safety of the President and the nation. Wilkinson described being prepared for a crisis as having a seamless environment, with a contingency for any conceivable emergency. “After speaking with David Wilkinson, a Secret Service member who served under four Presidents, I gained a new perspective on what it means to be a leader,” states Billy Burke ’18, vice president of internal relations for the Honors in Business Association. “Wilkinson was thrown into situations that he could have never expected to have to face. However, it was his preparation for similar scenarios that made him capable of leading many in times of crisis.”

The UBSLC hosted over 60 students from 26 colleges and universities, representing 10 countries. The diversity of schools allowed for ample networking and was arguably the most valuable part to all in attendance. “My favorite part of the UBSLC were my fellow attendees,” says Dan Glucksman ’18, CFO of the Honors in Business Association. “It was an absolutely amazing experience to meet 60 new, compelling people all with a different story to tell and something interesting to say. It was also really interesting to see how all the different business schools work and compare and contrast their policies and programs.”

Part of the conference included School Spotlights where each school presented and shared their respective curricula, student organizations and activities. Sarah Lang ’17, president of the Undergraduate Business Association and Burke presented on behalf of UConn’s School of Business. Stephen Porcello ’18, president of the UConn Consulting Group, had the opportunity to learn what other student groups did related to consulting, such as the University of Indiana and how these students pursue career opportunities related to consulting. “I found the Student Spotlights to be extremely informational,” added Lang.

Students also had the opportunity to participate in the Barkley Forum, Emory’s nationally ranked debate team. Conference attendees participated in numerous pitch and debate exercises to cultivate critical thinking and public speaking skills.

The conference closed with leadership development activities by Montara Farms. The activities were meant to make participants think beyond themselves, work together and question their abilities. When asked to summarize the conference, Burke responded,

“All of the different perspectives on business and leadership as a whole gave me new viewpoints that I’ll be able to include in many aspects of my life. The UBSLC has made me ready to lead.”

About Honors in Business Association: Honors in Business Association (HiBA) is a student organization formed between the Honors Program and School of Business. HiBA strives to create a sense of community for students in both Honors and the School of Business and those with an interest in business. HiBA’s programming provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate and develop skills necessary to succeed in today’s business world all while building a strong alumni network. Contact information: or visit

About UConn Consulting Group: UConn Consulting Group is a strategy consulting group composed of top students at the University of Connecticut and advised by alumni who went on to attend top business schools (Harvard Business School, Tuck School of Business, and MIT Sloan) and top consulting firms (McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, A.T. Kearney, and The Boston Consulting Group). Contact information:

About Undergraduate Business Association: UBA is an organization dedicated to helping UConn students interested in the business world gain real world experience during their time here. Their goal is to better inform students about what goes on inside our school; and how to get involved by bringing in upperclassmen from various majors, having resume building workshops, interview workshops, and how to dress for success.