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Syngenta Business Institute returns

By |  December 14, 2021 0 Comments

Syngenta Business Institute (SBI) returned this year with a mix of popular sessions and more opportunities for virtual attendees to network, much like attendees experienced in past in-person events.

#SBI21 kicked off with a session on managing teams and individuals, led by Sherry Moss, Ph.D., professor of organizational studies at Wake Forest University.

Amy Wallis, Ph.D., professor of practice in organizational behavior at Wake Forest University, led a session on leading across cultures and generations at the 2021 Syngenta Business Institute. (Screencap: Golfdom Staff)

Amy Wallis, Ph.D., professor of practice in organizational behavior at Wake Forest University, led a session on leading across cultures and generations at the 2021 Syngenta Business Institute. (Screencap: Golfdom Staff)

Moss asked attendees to discuss the difference between managing and leading. Attendees also worked through virtual breakout groups to discuss different scenarios a superintendent might find himself or herself working through in real life. Through discussion, Moss offered techniques and processes to help them become better leaders in their shops.

Attendee Brett Lynch superintendent of Hamlet Wind Watch Golf Club in Hauppauge, N.Y., commended Moss on her presentation at the end of the first day, noting “you motivated me to be a better leader.”

Amy Wallis, Ph.D., professor of practice in organizational behavior at Wake Forest University, kicked off the second day of programming by encouraging attendees to think beyond the management of employees and understand cultural and generational differences among crews. She also made a strong point that golf courses can have a workplace culture too.

“You are born into a culture,” she said. “This is also the same with organizational culture. We have to realize culture is learned. It is shared among a group of people.”

Attendees talked through scenarios in virtual breakout rooms to further the discussions on culture and leadership.

At the end of her session, Wallis encouraged attendees to think about what they’d covered and how that would influence employee management in the future.

“What can I do with what I learned today?” she encouraged attendees to consider.

Syngenta Business Institute also brought some of the popular parts of its in-person events with roundtable discussions after the session on the second day and a virtual escape room event to encourage more mixing and mingling of the in-person SBIs.

A key component of any superintendent’s job is negotiations and financial management. Sessions on the third and fourth day hit on those topics. John Sumanth, associate professor of management at Wake Forest University, led attendees through several breakout sessions aimed to help superintendents perfect their negotiation skills. Rob Nash, professor in finance at Wake Forest University, then took the skills the attendees learned from Sumanth and parlayed them into financial management best practices.

“Finance comes down to allocating resources to get the most out of them,” he said, encouraging attendees to use the financial information at their fingertips to make better decisions.

Nash walked attendees through several scenarios a superintendent would likely face and how choices could impact a course’s income statement.

It was after Nash’s presentation that Ken Middaugh, faculty director for SBI, shared an important lesson he’d learned through his career: “I know how important it is to be an effective communicator to those who hold the purse strings.”

To close out the week, Julie Wayne, professor of business at Wake Forest University, led a discussion on work-life balance, something superintendents say they struggle with.

“Balance is not one size fits all,” Wayne said.

Attendee, Scott Norton, grounds manager for Ross Golf Center & Country Club in Harbor Springs, Mich., says he was impressed by the level of the content offered to the superintendents in attendance.

“I came in with only expectations that our topics/learning would be outside the normal agronomics curriculum,” Norton said. “I was immediately blown away by the professionalism and Masters/Doctorate level educators leading us daily.”

Any superintendent looking to boost skills beyond agronomy should apply next year.

“Apply to SBI if you are ready/want to build a more complete understanding of what you need to consider/encompass as a true leader amongst peers,” he said.

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