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McLauchlan Series Alums Reflect on Career Growth and Leadership Lessons 

Jenkins MBA alumni Trinh Le (MBA ‘21), Basil Lyberg (MBA ‘21)  and LaTrisha Major (MBA ‘17) reflect on their time at NC State, the career growth they have experienced since graduation and the lasting impact of the McLauchlan Leadership Series.

McLauchlan Alumni FI 169
L-R): Trinh Le (MBA ‘21), Basil Lyberg (MBA ‘21) and LaTrisha Major (MBA ‘17)

When Russ and Cara McLauchlan established the McLauchlan Leadership Series at NC State in 2015, they had one primary goal in mind: to catalyze graduate-level leadership education and professional development in students at Poole College of Management. Like the university’s Think and Do mantra, the couple’s generous investment focused on developing critical thinkers and capable leaders passionate about tackling complex problems around the world.

In its seven-year history, the professional development program has accomplished a lot: creating experiential learning opportunities in the Jenkins MBA program, fostering a culture of leadership throughout Poole College of Management and helping more than 200 McLauchlan Leadership Fellows become more confident, strategic leaders in a dynamic world. 

Building leadership capacity

According to Trinh Le (MBA ‘21), the Jenkins MBA program provided several unique opportunities to enhance her professional development. So, while juggling the responsibilities of a family and her role as a clinical manager of pharmacy informatics at UNC Health, she made time to embrace them — honing her professional skills with two graduate certificates and strengthening her leadership capabilities as a McLauchlan Fellow. 

“The McLauchlan Fellows program not only facilitated collaboration with esteemed mentors but also nurtured a dynamic exchange among peers. The harmonious exchange of ideas, complemented by a dedicated career coach, seamlessly wove together into a comprehensive professional development program,” she says. 

Coupled with the MBA program’s integration of theory and practice, Le says, the program broadened her perspective on leadership, made her more adaptable in today’s ever-evolving technical landscape, sharpened her strategic thinking and gave her the confidence and competence needed to navigate complex leadership roles.

After graduating from the Jenkins MBA program, Le looked for opportunities to expand her impact and secured an executive leadership position as chief pharmacy informatics officer at Mayo Clinic. In this role, Le steers the strategic direction of pharmacy informatics initiatives, drives important technological innovations and integrates cutting-edge technology into pharmacy operations to enhance patient care.

“The role not only marked a significant milestone, but also signaled a transformative chapter in my professional journey. It aligns seamlessly with my executive aspirations and allows me to contribute meaningfully to the organization’s strategic goals. Looking ahead, I am excited about the challenges and opportunities that this role presents, and I remain deeply committed to advancing both my career and the broader field of healthcare informatics through strategic leadership and innovation,” she says.

Reflecting on her career, Le notes that the collective impact of the MBA program and McLauchlan Leadership Series is evident.

“Both have been instrumental in propelling my success. It goes beyond imparting academic knowledge; these programs have equipped me with the strategic acumen, leadership capabilities and innovative mindset necessary for excelling in executive roles,” she explains.

These programs have equipped me with the strategic acumen, leadership capabilities and innovative mindset necessary for excelling in executive roles.

Creating new opportunities

LaTrisha Major (MBA ‘17) also credits the experiences gained in the Jenkins MBA program as a pivotal aspect of her career trajectory. In particular, her experiences collaborating with peers in the MBA program, serving as a charter member of the Professional MBA Leadership Board and participating as a McLauchlan Fellow stand out most.

“One of my favorite parts of the program was being chosen as a McLauchlan Fellow. It was an honor to be selected to participate in such an amazing program focused on personal, team and organizational leadership,” Major explains.

Having an MBA from Jenkins, she says, has opened up a number of doors in the consulting, finance and technical fields — and her involvement in the McLauchlan Leadership Series has demonstrated to companies and clients alike that she has the capacity to lead large organizations and teams.

Additionally, her experience as a McLauchlan Fellow gave her the confidence to tackle challenges throughout her career and pursue a professional dream: starting her own consulting company.

“One of my main goals when I entered the Jenkins MBA program was to start my own consulting company, and I was able to do that. My consulting firm, Major Concepts Consulting, LLC, offers strategy, branding and innovation services to small businesses to help them expand, thrive and think outside of the box — which enables them to gain visibility and increase their revenue,” she says.

“What I learned as a student, fellow and leader, I was able to pull from to successfully start my business and accelerate my career more than I could even imagine. The experience prepared me to be a great leader in my business and lead large projects and teams within other organizations,” she continues.

Maximizing leadership impact 

For Basil Lyberg (MBA ‘21), the business and leadership lessons he learned in the Jenkins MBA program came at a critical time in his career: in the midst of an unfolding pandemic. As president and executive director of The Ability Experience, a philanthropic initiative of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity focused on supporting people with disabilities, Lyberg was responsible for steering the organization to resilience and success after it took several hard hits — including losing 50% of revenues the first week of the pandemic.

The opportunity to lay a stronger foundation in business strategy with the MBA curriculum, while simultaneously learning more about leadership as a McLauchlan Fellow, poised Lyberg to be a more effective communicator, problem-solver and decision-maker when it mattered most.

“Applying lessons learned in the MBA program during the pandemic allowed me to engage with the board and stakeholders at a deeper level and helped me steer our organization to emerge stronger, positioning us for a more profound impact on our mission. I learned how to articulate strategy and financial results to provide clarity and confidence in our team’s leadership, and I codified and expanded my knowledge base to address organizational challenges and communicate more effectively in conversations with our key donors,” he says.

According to Lyberg, few professional development opportunities afford seasoned professionals the time and space to dig deeper into personal and organizational leadership, learn best practices and identify specific ways to improve and scale their leadership impact — but the McLauchlan Leadership Series provides that for fellows.

“I invested the time in myself, guided by Dr. Shamblin and many experienced professionals, to better understand myself as a leader and how to position myself to make the greatest impact possible. This time has paid dividends and given me lessons that serve as a foundation for authentic leadership,” he says. 

Leaving a legacy 

For the three McLauchlan Fellows, the McLauchlan Leadership Series not only offered greater leadership insight and experience — it instilled greater confidence and competence to advance their personal and professional growth.

To current and future McLauchlan Fellows, Le has a few words of advice.

“The McLauchlan Fellows program is an unparalleled experience that will challenge, inspire and sculpt you in ways you might not anticipate. The richness of this experience, coupled with the invaluable connections formed and profound insights gained, is immeasurable,” she says. “So, embrace the journey. You will undoubtedly emerge not only academically enriched, but as a more resilient, insightful and impactful leader.”