100% Success: Year Group 2008 MGJW Fellows Selected for Promotion to Major

After a long wait, the results are in.  For the year group 2008 members of the Major General James Wright Fellowship it was a clean sweep; 100% of those eligible for promotion will pin on a gold oak leaf cluster in what manyCPT to MAJ hope is the near future.  With five members of the 2017 and two members of the 2018 cohort receiving the good news; there was rejoicing in Miller Hall, TRADOC Headquarters and the Army Logistics University.

As news of the promotions reached social media, current and former Mason School of Business classmates were quick to congratulate the selected officers.  The support was genuine, laudatory, and humorous–speaking to the connection the MGJW Fellows continue to enjoy with their classmates.  As CPT–nay–CPT(P) Brian Johnson posted the news on Facebook, he was advised by Mason classmate Jeff Staker that it was “time for another mustang.”  Staker, a father of four himself, must have appreciated the response Johnson, “No new mustangs just yet Jeff…”


Clearly the mature and analytic thinking of a future Field Grade Officer.

The Utilization: Our First 100 Days

The known unknown for many prospective Major General James Wright Fellowship applicants is the “utilization” at TRADOC / ARCIC.  To shed some light on the types of work and opportunities, we caught up with members of the 2017 cohort as they reached their first 100 days in position:


Quinn is putting VBA to work!

CPT Quinn Overton shared his job is a combination of engagement preparation / logistic support for the ARCIC director [MG Dyess].    Quinn also works special projects and other initiatives in conjunction with the larger staff effort in ARCIC. Recently, CPT Overton has been working on an interactive spreadsheet which displays variable relationships over time based when certain decisions regarding army force structures are made.  Tapping into skills leaned in the Fellowship, he finds himself constantly using data analytics, excel skills (to include building spreadsheets with VBA), and especially collecting “voice of customer”!


Fellow CPT Jake Bradfield currently works in the TRADOC G31 where he is part of a team that analyzes processes within the Army’s accession function. Working in the Army’s “personnel domain”, Jake provides oversight and insight into processes that make critical determinations about Unit MTOE authorizations, MOS consolidation and ASI assignment. CPT Bradfield has capitalized on skills learned in Operations, Managerial Accounting and Information Technology.



Look at Pat Lynch “own it” in the Human Dimension

CPT Pat Lynch fills a role in the ARCIC Human Dimension Division. As a Capability Analysis Officer, Pat just returned from a TDY trip to Fort Benning, GA where he and his team worked with the MCoE to identify capability gaps in the Army’s Human Dimension. One such issue was the ability of the Army to recruit people with the right technical skills to bring value to future formations. Working with leaders across the TRADOC enterprise, CPT Lynch relies on executive communications skills refined during his time at the Mason School of Business.


MAJ Brandon Bangsboll, MAJ Brad Goodyear and CPT(P) Jon Patten all took their talents to Fort Lee upon graduation from the Mason School of Business to complete the Army’s Satellite ILE Course. Having received AOC Phase 2 credit for the completion of their MBA Program at William & Mary, completing Satellite ILE ensures these officers are now MEL4 complete and competitive to return to the force at the completion of their utilization. Said Brandon about the experience: “many of my classmates were Functional Area Officers…some holding jobs in areas I never even knew the Army did work! It served as yet another broadening opportunity to work alongside these peers.” MAJ Bangsboll will join the TRADOC G3/5/7 team as MAJ Goodyear and CPT(P) Patten find employment in ARCIC.


Speaking of Fort Lee….CPT Brian Johnson, the lone (but never afraid) Logistician from the 2016 cohort just completed his first solo teaching session as a Logistics Captain Career Course instructor. Brian enjoys the opportunity to shape the minds and attributes of the next generation of logistic Company Commanders.   Having left the Williamsburg area, Brian said he looked forward to a steady stream of James Wright Fellows coming to Fort Lee over the next two years to complete their ILE requirement and joining him for a friendly beer. He also uses his pulpit to share about the MGJW program, hoping to eventually replicate experiences and teaching from the Supply Chain course with his small group.


From capstone to cubicle, the killer “Bs” stay connected

In a “so strange it must be true” turn of events, capstone project partners MAJ Brandon “BK” Kennedy and CPT Shailendra “Baz” Basnet once again work side by side (literally) in the Joint Forces Training Division. BK and Baz share responsibility on the coordination and synchronization of the TRADOC participation in the quarterly Training General Officer Steering Committee (TGOSC) forums. Says Kennedy, “these are the meetings of Colonels and Generals that decide how the Army spends it’s $9+ billion training dollars across a 4 year POM cycle.”  Continues Baz, “we don’t get to say what is done with the money, but being privy to the conversations and decision making is really illuminating.” Both Kennedy and Basnet lean on skills learned in Financial Management and Lean Six Sigma to conceptualize future values of money and improve the process of gather information from 10+ reporting organizations.


Working now with Sean Oatmeyer, the MGJW Fellowship program manager, CPT Will Lindberg remains closely tied to the current cohort. As a member of the Leader Development Directorate in the TRADOC G 3/5/7, Will gets to work on doctrine and policy that will produce agile, adaptive leaders for years to come. CPT Lindberg gets to work on the MGJW Fellowship and other initiatives to do just that. Experiences in LDE and with Executive Partners have invariably influenced the perspective he brings to this team.

MBA; MBA Complete: Major General James Wright 2017 Graduation

Graduating MGJW Class 2017

The 2017 Cohort of the Major General James Wright Fellowship on Graduation Day


On a quiet Sunday in August, during an intimate ceremony in Brinkley Commons, the 2017 Cohort of the Major General James Wright Fellowship graduated from their 14 month MBA experience.  Commencement speaker Major General  Paul M. Benenati, Deputy Chief of Staff U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, lauded the fellows for their hard work, and then challenged the group to “get back to work” in the TRADOC enterprise.  With half the cohort destined for the Army Capability Integration Center (ARCIC) or the TRADOC G 3/5/7, his point was more than tongue in cheek.

2017 Cohort Word Cloud

What 3 words best describe the 2017 MGJW Cohort?

Among the gathering were plenty of family and friends, along with a sizable contingent of professors and fellow students who gave up their afternoon to see their class mates off. “I don’t know what our second year is going to be like without the Fellows” said Vishwa Natrajan.  “They were such hard workers and fun people to be around…they will be missed.”  Similar sentiments are captured in the above depicted word cloud, a representation of the most common responses from students, faculty and staff when asked to share the “3 words that best describe the 2017 MGJW Cohort.”

For many members of the Fellowship, the graduation was bitter sweet.  “As the lone Logistics officer in this cohort, I’ll be heading to Fort Lee to work as an instructor at the Logistics Captains Career Course” said CPT Brian Johnson.  “While I look forward to the opportunity, its going to be hard to say goodbye to so many great friends–students and James Wright Fellows alike.  Luckily I’m just an hour away.”

With Johnson and the remainder of the group staying in the area for the next two years to fulfill their utilization, the Mason School of Business family ended the ceremony looking forward to opportunities to have the 2017 James Wright Fellows return for school and community events.  Dean White commented, “they are part of the Tribe family, and will always be welcome to come back.  And we hope they do!”


Update to HRC: A perspective on the Major General James Wright Fellowship


A team from William & Mary and TRADOC conduct a VTC brief with HRC assignment officers in Aug 2017

In early August 2017, members of the Mason School of Business MBA Programs Staff and Admissions Office joined with Major General James Wright Fellows from the 2016 and 2017 cohort to update assignment officers from the US Army Human Resource Command (HRC).  Joining the group were Professor Rex Holmlin (Capstone Project Coordinator) and Mr. Sean Oatmeyer (MGJW Program Manager).

The discussion ranged from the admissions process, to the MBA of the Future course load, to the efficacy of the capstone projects.  Current and past Fellows gave perspective on their experiences and why the attending Senior Captain Assignment officers should consider directing qualified candidates to the MGJW program.

The unclassified information briefing is linked below and contains relevant information, context and contact information for any Senior Captain considering applying to the program for admittance as part of the 2019 cohort.

MG Wright Overview Brief to HRC Assignment Officers 2 Aug 17


From Left to Right: CPT Basnet, Amanda Barth, CPT Fort, Dr. Carlane Pittman, MAJ Kennedy

Passing the Torch: Current MG James Wright Fellows welcome the new class and their families

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On July 17th the newest members of the Major General James Wright Fellowship arrived at Miller Hall for the start of their 14 month journey.  Greeted by an eager team of MBA Admissions & Program staff, the 2018 Cohort was also formally introduced to the 2017 team, sharing lunch on day 1 and spending more time on day 2 reviewing best practices and lessons learned.

IMG_2057“It was great to sit with the team who came before us and pick their brains” said Brandon Staub, MGJW Class of 2018. Staub’s peers echoed the sentiment, saying many valuable nuggets of information were passed on. With the topics ranging from interactions with the TRADOC & Student Detachment, to academic classes and what to expect from working within learning teams, a robust conversation was enjoyed by all. And at least one Fellow from 2017 handed off his textbooks to the incoming scholar that he sponsored free of charge, exemplifying the camaraderie and kinship these meetings meant to instill.


The final connection opportunity was at the MBA Program hosted picnic on Thursday evening where spouses and family members were invited to meet and break bread. Conversations about local schools, day cares, fitness facilities and Williamsburg points of interest were often overshadowed by the sounds of children at play.  As the tikes made Miller Hall their playground, the adults exchanged pleasantries and memories from the past year.  “I remember this event last year” said the spouse of a MGJW 2017 Fellow. “Not only can I believe how fast the year went, but how great an assignment this has been for our family.”


With the torch passed, we can only hope the spouses of ’18 will enjoy a similar memory next year.

#gilmour: The lasting effects of Professor John Gilmour’s instruction

Since the inception of the Major General James Wright Fellowship, each cohort begins its 14 month experience with summer classes on American Politics and the Federal Budget.  Each of these courses have been specifically designed by the MBA Program team to address the relationship and linkages between the topics and America’s National Defense strategy.  And over the last 8 years, Professor John Gilmour has expertly executed this deliberately planned re-entry into academia.

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Professor Gilmour (holding gavel) and the MGJW 2017 Cohort

As the newest MGJW Fellows found DoG Street and came to understand new uniform standards, Professor Gilmour taught them the “behind the scenes” of what many had experienced over the last 8-10 years of their military careers.  Exploring topics as diverse as creating the DoD’s budget request and why political parties have become so polarized, the efficacy of these lessons would continue to be realized in the months to come.

As the formal MBA program began, small references and points of order in multiple classes could be tied back to the teachings of Professor Gilmour.  As the moments became more frequent, the MGJW Fellows found a unique way to identify them during internal chats on Slack:  #gilmour.  This fun turn of phrase on the popular Twitter hash tag system, soon found its way in face to face conversations between Fellows.  Outsiders could only stare bemused as they tried to understand what “hash tag Gilmour” must have meant inside military circles.

A photo taken at dawn my an over zealous MGJW Fellow who went for a run on the field trip to D.C.

Taken by an over zealous MGJW Fellow who went for a run on the  D.C. field trip

As the year ended and the Fellows returned again to summer classes and work on their pivotal capstone projects, the lessons once again became relevant.  MGJW Brian Johnson pointed out, “our entire capstone project for the HQDA G3/5/7 has been underpinned by the first classes we took here.  I could actually talk to General Officers and Colonels in the Pentagon during our interviews about the POM process and how it integrates with PPBE.”

POM and PPBE?  #gilmour.


Well Informed World Views: Major General James Wright Fellows Shine in Country Analysis Presentation Competition

When Mason School of Business Macro Economic Professor Franklin “Bud” Robeson issued his syllabus at the start of Module 3, he noted early that the Country Analysis Presentation was indeed going to be a competition, and he was willing to put his money where his mouth by backing the MBA program office and increasing the cash prize to be doled out to winners.

3rd and 4th Place1

With $1000 on the line for the winning team and the right to hold a novelty size check at stake, members of the MaChina1jor General James Wright fellowship once again rose to the occasion, serving as key contributors in 3 of the top 4 finishing teams.  With every MGJW Fellow having deployed overseas and nearly all having also lived outside the United States, the cohort was poised to bring well informed world views to the project.

The competition format was simple and heavily influenced by the March Madness excitement filling Miller Hall; all teams would compete in a qualifying round before select teams would meet in a “final 4” show down in front of the entire student body.

Fellows Jon Patten and Brandon Bangsboll teamed up with several international students to deliver a presentation on Japan.  Not one to shy away from a challenge and a family man at heart, Brandon Bangsboll further impressed the crowd by delivering his brief while also holding his daughter who unexpectedly joined the briefing team on the stage.  The compassionate display, along with a solid presentation, earned these two and their team a share of third place.

MGJW Fellow Quinn Overton led an All Star team that delivered a powerful  presentation on China; expertly handling questions from the judging panel that included Dean White, Dean Pulley and “Bud” Robeson.  The very impressive showing gave the judges and the crowd a great finish to the competition, as Quinn’s group narrowly missed a first place finish and graciously accepted their reward.

GermanyWill Lindberg and Brandon Kennedy held roles with “Team Hoffblitz” and contributed the victorious Germany presentation.  But each was quick to comment that behind the scenes it was the leadership of Wiebke Heinrich which prepared the team for its first place performance.  Said Will, “Wiebke deserves all the credit for our success; she was an amazing leader and it was through her efforts that we achieved this.”



Award Worthy April: Major James Wright Fellow earns several accolades

3rdplace-9173Major General James Wright Fellow Brandon “BK” Kennedy had what some would call a successful month in April.  The day before Easter, BK represented the College of William & Mary at the inaugural Tom Tom Founder’s Festival College Cup Pitch Competition.  Graham Henshaw, director of the Center and the professor who nominated Kennedy to compete said, “once I saw the amount of effort he put in to such a short amount of time to refine his pitch…I knew we had made the right decision.”  Brandon’s efforts were rewarded with a 3rd place finish and a $1000 grant for his start up company, FitFight.

The bronze medal finish came on the heels of joining 40 other graduating students in accepting a Ewell Award from the College president at the William & Mary “Evening of Excellence.”  With students from all across campus receiving awards at the event, BK reports that the decision to bring his girls to a formal dinner that lasted nearly 3 hours became “memorable” for more than just the award.1st mod contributor

The month was rounded out when Brandon was recognized by his peers at a student and faculty luncheon, receiving accolades along with several of his class mates for in-class contributions and student leadership.  “I only hope that I added value where able–its always been my goal to give back as much as I have received from this program and my peers,” said Kennedy.  When asked what he planned to do in May to follow this up, BK said “finish finals and take a vacation.”Ewell award 2

A meal with Alan B. Miller: Miller hall’s “Patron Saint”

Prior to his dedication of the William and Mary Entrepreneurship Center, Alan B. Miller (CEO Universal Health Services) requested to have breakfast with members of the MBA class of 2017 that were service members.  Mr. Miller, an alumnus of the William and Mary ROTC program, continues to find great pleasure in reading about military history and thought the opportunity would give him a first hand account of the contemporary military environment.


Asked by the program officer, eight members of the Major General James Wright Fellowship volunteered to share in this experience. Introduced personally by long time friend (and current Dean) Larry Pulley, the doors shut for a small group discussion over eggs and bacon with a leader who commands a company with annual revenues that exceed $9 billion.

The Fellows were quickly put at ease by a very gregarious and candid man who began the conversation by saying he had no agenda for the meeting, and just wanted to talk about things that interested us.  Quickly put at ease, the conversation drifted from politics to sports to military history and eventually onto leadership.  Mr. Miller (who insisted on being called Alan, not Sir) answered one prompt about the challenges of leading such a large organization by saying “if your people haven’t bought in [to your vision]–and you force it–they will find a way to pay you back.”

He went on to say that great organizations are made up of great people, and shared his enlightening litmus test for knowing who the real assets are: “tell me who you would be crushed if they left.”  He continued his discussion on talent management by saying that “if you have good people, you will do well.  Good people don’t tolerate bad people.”  But Alan added the reality check that whether in corporate America or the military, this is still a challenge. “Managing people?  Everyone has these problems–Julius Caesar had these problems!”

The MGJW Fellows eventually shuffled back to class, lingering to shake hands and refill coffee cups as the meeting closed.  Mr. Miller was off to dedicate another space named in his honor, after having carved out 8 more in the memories of those in attendance.


MGJW Fellows Support Mason’s 50th Anniversary

The theme for the weekend was clearly passion, professionalism, and pride as the staff and alumni of the Raymond A. Mason School of Business’ pulled out all the stops for their historic MBA 50th Anniversary event from June 2-3. More than 600 people returned to their alma mater from eight countries and 40 states to reconnect with the key people of their past and present in the place they hold so dear to their hearts.

W&M MBA 50th Anniversary176To help set the stage for the largest alumni gathering in the business school’s history, Laura Brown and the Business School team asked the Major General fellows to assist with guided tours. The Fellows stepped up, providing 6 volunteer tour guides and “brought the Alan B. Miller Hall tours to another level,” according to Laura. While walking with their escorts through the halls many of us take for granted, we often heard alumni remark that this was the first time they had been inside the new facility, and many marveled at how far the business school has come since they graduated.



Laura recounted how the “Alumni loved hearing what has changed, what remains the same, and how current students benefit from the wonderful new facilities,” in the way only those familiar with far more austere surroundings can communicate. The visitors were able to hear personal “war stories” from the first year learning experience and how their continued support has enabled the Mason Business School learning experience to improve for each and every class.

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Following the tours, lunch was held to reacquaint alumni with their fondly remembered Executive Partners, as well as introduce them to new additions to the program. Being so close to the world’s largest concentration of U.S. Naval forces and right next door to Fort Eustis, one of the most important resources in keeping the U.S. Army fighting ready, there are numerous retired senior officers participating as Mason School Executive Partners.


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Saturday evening, the MGJW Fellows guided the Alumni cohort to the sunken gardens where the Fellows and their spouses were able to enjoy an evening of celebration with nearly 100 years of William and Mary business alumni to join school namesake Raymond A. “Chip” Mason in welcoming alumni, supporters, and friends to celebrate 50 years of principled achievement in the MBA program.

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Members of all five of the traditional military branches are represented in the class, staff, and alumni, including Retired Army Corps of Engineers officer Professor Rex Holmlin, all Army combat branches, Logistics, Rangers, Paratroopers, Coast Guard officers, Navy Surface Warfare Officers, Engineers, Pilots, and even Navy SEALS.

W&M MBA 50th Anniversary355During his remarks, Mr. Mason related how “over 30 percent of each MBA class is comprised of former and active duty military,” and how our inclusion is critical to William and Mary’s mission to “enhance the global educational experience for everyone.” Additionally, the school shared a video vignette highlighting the success a previous alumnus of the program has had in his Army career and his deep appreciation for the impact the school has had on his life and the lives of his soldiers.



As the night drew long, the Army Band completed the evening, accompanied by a 20-minute long fireworks show – a fitting closeout to a job well done.


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