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New speaker series gives KU MBA students opportunity to learn from chief executives

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

LAWRENCE — A new speaker series in the University of Kansas School of Business will bring top business executives into the classroom over the 2018-19 academic year.

Geared toward first-year MBA students in the full-time program, “Conversations in the C-Suite” will feature a monthly presentation by an executive who graduated from KU.

The series kicked off Aug. 15 during the school’s MBA student orientation with this year’s featured speaker, James “Jim” Corbett, KU alumnus and CEO of CathWorks Ltd., an Israel-based company that develops digital health care products.

Corbett worked with Dee Steinle, executive director of MBA and MSB programs, and Melissa Birch, associate professor and co-director of the school’s Center for Global Business Studies, to develop the series. Presentations throughout the year may vary in format, but all will focus on the topic of how to adapt to and take the lead in a changing global business environment.

“We are so fortunate to have Jim Corbett as an active KU alumnus,” Steinle said. “His offer to share lessons learned with our incoming full-time MBAs, and continue with them in a coaching capacity, is a gift beyond measure. I think we have created a series that will continue to bring value to our students over the course of their careers.”

Corbett graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from KU in 1980 and has more than 30 years of leadership experience in the medical device field. He has served as CEO of Alphatec Spine, Vertos Medical, ev3 Inc., Microtherapeutics, Home Diagnostics Inc.; president of Boston Scientific International; and held a number of executive roles during his 11 years at Baxter Healthcare.

As this year’s featured speaker, he will return to campus as part of the series in November and will deliver the final presentation in April 2019.

Corbett said he’s looking forward to using his passion of developing organizations and people to draw connections between what he’s learned in his global business career and the MBA academic experience.

“Connecting the business experience to the academic experience is what can benefit students tremendously,” he said. “I think this will be a way to enhance the learning experience for students.”

Other planned speakers this semester include Jim Schwartz, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from KU, and Craig Levra, who earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from KU.

Schwartz is the chairman, CEO and president of NPC International Inc., franchisee of Pizza Hut and Wendy's. He’ll speak to MBA students Sept. 14. Levra is president of outdoor gear retailer Gear Coop LLC and principal at SafeRock Inc., an analytics and strategy firm that serves global and regional companies in North America and Europe. He will deliver his presentation Oct. 5.

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