Support for the LEAD – Leadership, Education, and Development – program in the College of Business took a giant step forward with a recently announced contribution from the Philip Morris Aid to Education Fund. The $20,000 gift will be used to support the LEAD program at Illinois, which attracts talented high school juniors from across the nation to Urbana for a three-week educational experience designed to give students exposure to the challenges and rewards of business as a career choice.
Andy MacRae, Midwest region vice president, Melanie Suhm, Section 44 sales director, and Chuck Glisson ’77, district manager, represented Philip Morris at the check ceremony in November. Dean Avijit Ghosh, who brought the LEAD program to Illinois two years ago, accepted the contribution on behalf of the College of Business. In his remarks, Ghosh said that the Illinois curriculum and experiential programs and LEAD both stress the development of leaders who are prepared to assume responsibility early in their careers.
MacRae noted that Philip Morris has recently reevaluated its recruiting strategy and has chosen to focus its efforts on fewer universities. Illinois is one of their selected institutions, meaning that the company will be increasing its presence on campus and in the College of Business.
Illinois and Philip Morris have a long relationship that has resulted in consistent hiring of interns and business graduates. The company regularly attends the Business Career Fairs, hosts company presentations, and conducts on-campus interviews and also PM supports the professional skills development and career exploration programs coordinated by Business Career Services. Representatives from the College took part in PM staff training earlier this year, discussing what colleges need from employers.
LEAD is a national partnership between business schools and many top US corporations that is designed to cultivate and develop a diverse workforce who want to work in business. The program seeks to inspire a new generation of business leaders by offering early exposure to business classes and business challenges. Summer business institutes give talented and high-achieving students an opportunity to experience college classes, tackle real business problems, and meet outstanding business leaders and entrepreneurs. Other LEAD host campuses include Dartmouth, Stanford, UCLA, and Duke. More than 40 percent of LEAD participants go on to major in business while in college.
PM USA promotes a culture of inclusion for a broad array of stakeholders, including its employees, suppliers, customers and host communities.