The Leadership Signature Program, one of nine Signature Programs in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University, celebrated a momentous milestone at its Spring 2023 annual meeting. Five seniors – the first Clemson students to complete the unique curriculum since the program’s 2021 launch – are graduating with Leadership Certificates, leadership stoles to add to their graduation regalia, and a bright future as qualified leaders in their respective careers.
The Leadership Signature Program, which the college launched in 2021, prepares undergraduate students to lead in any industry. The curriculum includes traditional, leadership-focused courses and a progressive leadership practicum that delivers experiential leadership development. Students who complete the 12-credit program earn a Leadership Certificate approved by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
Keith Balts, Colonel (Retired), USAF, professor of practice and director of the Leadership Signature Program in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, explained that the program – which is available to all qualified undergraduate Clemson business students – operates much like a company. Students are organized into teams and departments and, as they progress through the program, can be assigned executive roles such as CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and others.
“This program is not just about developing leadership in oneself, but learning to contribute to leadership development in others,” said Balts. “We create a safe learning environment for students to experiment, take risks and grow as leaders. I have been blown away by how the leaders in this program have taken extreme ownership of their responsibilities and opportunities and how they are invested in the growth of others.”
Leadership is a choice – not a title
Inspired by Dean Wendy York as part of the college’s suite of Signature Programs, the Leadership program is modeled after executive leadership programs in industry and officer development training in the military’s Reserve Officers Training Corps. Courses and practicum work help students develop the skills needed to lead themselves, lead teams and lead impact in their organizations.
“The thing that separates this program from others is the emphasis on maintaining the daily focus and energy you bring when leading others,” explained Michael Clark, Management ‘23. “As a leader, you set the tone, which is a large factor in the success of the teams that you lead. Developing this skill, among others, has positioned me well for success in the companies and roles I pursue.”
Emily Gaskins, Accounting ’23, shared that the program helped her to build confidence and prepare for her transition to graduate school and the corporate world.
“I started as a shy member of the program who rarely spoke, and by the end, I was able to present to and lead a room without any anxiety,” she said.
Since launching in Spring 2021, the Leadership Signature Program has experienced exponential growth, with 65 students enrolled in Fall 2023. And, with the first graduating seniors transitioning into their new careers, employers are taking notice.
“Prospective employers want to know more about what the students are doing and learning in this unique leadership development program,” said Balts. “I have no doubt that each student will carry the lessons they have learned here into their chosen professions.
These seniors are the first to earn Clemson University’s Leadership Certificate as part of the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business Leadership Signature Program.
Michael Clark, Management ‘23
Vice CEO, Leadership Signature Program
Future plans: Software consultant for Capgemini in Nashville, TN
Mary Katherine Faulkenberry, Management ‘23
Chief Marketing Officer, Leadership Signature Program
Future plans: HR generalist at McCall Farms in Effingham, SC
Jane Goodwin, Management ‘23
Chief Project Officer, Leadership Signature Program
Future plans: Management trainee in Ocean Freight at DHL in Peoria, IL
Kate Woynerowski, Economics ‘23
Chief Assessment Officer, Leadership Signature Program
Future plans: Associate business analyst at Exelon in Washington, DC
Emily Gaskins, Accounting ‘23
Chief Resource Officer, Leadership Signature Program
Future plans: Audit intern at Deloitte in Charlotte, NC
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