The Professional Leadership Formation program recruits committed and thoughtful Catholics from a variety of professions to serve as mentors to individual undergraduateCatholic Studies students. An important part of the Church’s social mission is the witness of people of action who demonstrate the Gospel through their lives and character. It is therefore a critical aspect of the work of Catholic Studies, in preparing students for professional life, to bring them into contact with faithful and thoughtful Catholics in various professions.
The program is beneficial for both student and mentor. The Professional Leadership Formation program provides opportunities of engagement with Catholic professionals who can help students to articulate, understand and live out their professional lives according to the Gospel; it gives students practical experience in discerning their future professional work; and it offers opportunities for Catholic professionals to continue their own exploration of faith within a professional life.Last fall, the Habiger Institute inaugurated a pilot program of eight Catholic Studies and business double-majors and local Catholic businessmen. Daniel Hallman (May ’11) was paired with Jim Kolar, managing partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP. Both found this mentorship program unique. “I had been a part of business mentoring programs before,” states Hallman, “and when I agreed to participate, I did not fully grasp how this program would be The Professional Leadership Formation Program: Uniting Faith and Work different. Being able to speak openly about faith in the realm of business was tremendously helpful and refreshing. One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from Mr. Kolar thus far pertains to the idea of a Catholic model of competition in business. I have dealt with similar realities in the competitive aspect present in athletics and academics; however, the idea of keeping a proper balance between values and victory in the business world has always seemed a bit more slippery.” In his mentorship with Kolar, Hallman was presented with a new way to view competition. “I acquired a better understanding of healthy competition in business, as well as a strong example of Catholic leadership.”
Kolar also found this partnership to be valuable. “The relationship was very natural from the beginning, partly because Danny and I went to the same high school and two ofhis uncles were my classmates. But in reality, the relationship worked because of the common ground we found in our discussion around the place for ethics and values in business today and our common belief in the role Catholicism can play in the workplace. While more complicated in today’s world, in simple terms, balancing values and success in the business world comes down to clearly articulating your own value proposition that you offer to clients or customers with whom you want to do business and the people you want to attract to work inside your organization.”
Kolar continues, “Succeeding with your own positives, on the merits of your own value proposition and playing by the rules of society, combined with using your moral compass personally and at the organizational level – these are the elements that remove the conflict between values and success. Just as in athletics, there is no greater feeling than winning on effort and skill, knowing you played the game by all the rules. We talk a great deal these days about ethics in business, and the tone has to be set from the top. The foundation for many leaders is reliance on faith and the guidance that their beliefs provide. Understanding one’s faith in depth and using foundations like those provided by St. Thomas and the Catholic Studies program can provide the cornerstone for a balanced career. The mentorship program has provided me a platform with which to understand the sincere interest by many students, like Danny, in bringing a deep understanding of their Catholic faith into all aspects of their lives, business and otherwise. It is a refreshing peek into our future.”
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