Business Students Participate in Beta Gamma Sigma ConferenceBusiness Students Participate in Beta Gamma Sigma Conference
Collaborating with your teammates ensures more success than working against your team.

That’s one of the lessons that three School of Business seniors took away from this year’s Winter Student Leadership Forum of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society serving business programs accredited by AACSB International.

“We engaged in group exercises where we could choose to either collaborate or work on our own against the other players,” said Jesse Held ’13. “In every instance, the groups who collaborated performed far and above the groups who did not.”

Held, Katie Oertel ’13 and Maia Root ’13 attended the three-day event in Jacksonville, Fla., on scholarships provided by the Ithaca College chapter of BGS and travel funds from the School of Business Dean’s Office.

After taking the Myers-Briggs personality test, attendees spent the weekend in groups of the same personality types. They worked in smaller groups one day, larger groups the next.

Teams of about 25 members competed in the Rug Club activity, said Oertel, a business management student with minors in environmental studies and Spanish.

“We realized we could look to outsiders for help. There weren't many rules to the game, so we figured out that just because a certain person wasn't designated to be on your team, there's no reason why they can't help you,” she continued. “It was an eye-opening experience and taught me that strong cohesive teams truly are much more effective than working independently.”

Oertel wants to work in a career in corporate sustainability. She’s co-president of IC’s Net Impact chapter and the senior coordinator of the Resource and Environmental Management Program's Eco-Rep program.

Students also learned to express and share personal concerns and then support what others shared. This exercise started with the challenge to draw your future by using only symbols.

“I was skeptical that I would be able to create anything coherent. I lack drawing skills above stick figures,” said Held, a business administration major concentrating in finance. “Surprisingly, once I started drawing, I couldn't stop.”

"Just being able to pour some frustrations about your challenges and obstacles onto a piece of paper, and then being able to share that with a group of 100 of our peers was pretty special. Everyone at the forum was so welcoming and open that I felt 100 percent secure sharing my frustrations and experiences, and the support that we all had for each other was something special.”

Held is one of this year’s winners of the Peggy R. Williams Award for Academic and Community Leadership, which recognizes students who excel academically and perform service to the College community and nation. He’s performance manager for Real Time Portfolio Management, a first-year academic coach and tutor for Academic Enrichment Services and has been an MBA and finance teaching assistant.

The self-reflection and sharing with others stuck out for Root, an accounting major. Leaders, she said, should lead in spite of their personal issues.

"The main thing I took away is that we all struggle and question certain things, but what sets us apart in BGS is that we can overcome those obstacles and actually incorporate them into our success stories. I think somehow we all inherently know that we are leaders and we have to provide leadership to others no matter what we are going through.”

Root serves Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting and finance honor society, as vice president of finance and acting vice president of Programming. Co-chair of School’s Peer Advisors and a tutor for business statistics and financial accounting, she plans on attending the School’s MBA program in professional accountancy next year.

She’s enthusiastic about her Ithaca experience, saying, “I have grown into an intelligent, independent leader because of all of the opportunities – classes, organizations, studying abroad, tutoring – Ithaca has offered me.” And BGS recognized her enthusiasm for its winter leadership forum. Her comments are featured prominently on its website (

"Maia, Katie and Jesse are all outstanding leaders in the School of Business, contributing greatly to the life of the School,” said Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman. “I'm very pleased that they had this wonderful opportunity to participate in the Beta Gamma Sigma conference."

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