Teamwork, Initiative, and Super Bowl XLVII

On a Sunday afternoon in early February, Lecture Hall 1213 at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management was packed to capacity.  Shouts of excitement and laughter bounced off the walls of Gallagher Hall, as first- and second-year MBA candidates and students from the Master of Professional Accounting program (MPAc) came together to enjoy food, drinks, and a legendary matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos streaming live on the projector screen.  Super Bowl XLVIII was on full display, providing an appreciated break in the high-intensity life of the GSM.

Attendees were treated to a real-time display of professional teamwork, strategy, and perseverance, all in the same room where students test their own mettle in subjects such as accounting, financial analysis, marketing, and business strategy.  Over 50 students, even with midterm exams just around the corner, enjoyed the most-watched television event in US history from their familiar surroundings in Room 1213.

But the real demonstration of team effort and organization took place behind the scenes in the two weeks leading up to the event.

Two weeks prior, student government representatives in the Associated Students of Management facilitated an honest, open-table discussion of ways to improve the student experience at the GSM.  During one session held with ASM President Mackenzie Guinon, several students offered up suggestions on how to maximize and maintain the tight-knit student community that has become synonymous with UC Davis.  In that session, the idea for a school-wide Super Bowl viewing was born.

And why not?  Super Bowl Sunday is revered across the country, regardless of the teams participating.  Friends and family across the nation get together for the big game, and a GSM Super Bowl Party was pointed out as a great way to introduce a classic American tradition to students who may otherwise never have experienced the excitement.

But what started out as a simple suggestion quickly evolved into a larger vision of school unity, as student organizations quickly identified ways to enhance the experience for their classmates.

The Sports and Entertainment Association (SEA) took the lead on getting the lecture hall set up, and coordinated catering from local businesses for the audience.  Recognizing that students varied in their enthusiasm for football, the GSM’s Challenge 4 Charity club organized Super Bowl Squares and Team Trivia to help entertain the audience for a good cause.  And ASM, the backbone of student organizations at the GSM, paved the way for logistical and promotional support.

“The most impressive part about this is that everyone saw an opportunity to make something happen for our school,” second-year MBA candidate and President of SEA Jake MacLeod-Roemer said.  “We were able to organize this event from the ground up in a short amount of time, and it’s all because the different organizations jumped in with both feet.”

“We all saw how we could make this event better, and because we had that shared vision we were able to accomplish more than we initially thought.”

It is that shared vision, and eagerness to contribute that defines students at the GSM.  The concept of synergy, in which an organization’s whole is greater than the sum of its parts, is not just an abstract notion confined to the classroom.  Each contributor, from the individual attendees bringing homemade snacks for their friends and classmates to the student organizations who put in countless hours to bring the school together for an American tradition, understands that the UC Davis GSM’s strength lies in the commitment to each other.

The planning, cohesion, and initiative that went into the GSM Super Bowl Party would have made even legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi proud, and is a source of pride at UC Davis GSM.