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Powell set to keynote Leadership Summit

After the inaugural Leadership Summit held last year at Mississippi State University, Dr. Barbara Spencer determined to make the next event bigger and better. And she feels she has done that with a full slate of noted speakers led by former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, USA (ret.).

“Last year, it was small,” said Spencer, associate dean of MSU’s College of Business and Industry. “The speakers were great. The organization was great. The food was outstanding.

“What last year’s Summit proved was that we could successfully put on this event. I wanted to ratchet it up this year. And I feel we have done just that.”

Change or die

In addition to an impressive array of speakers, the 2008 MSU Leadership Summit, which will be held September 23-24, has adopted a theme organizers feel is timely. The theme is “HD Leadership” — “HD” standing for high definition. If that has a technology-related sound to it, that is exactly what organizers intend.

As Spencer explains it, this year’s Summit will address how technology, rapid shifts in the economy and the world environment are forcing today’s leaders to look at tomorrow’s developments to stay successful. In short, incremental changes are no longer enough. It is time to go “high definition.”

“You either change, or you die,” she said. She added that today’s successful companies cannot rely on the strategies that have worked in the past. They must look ahead, scanning the horizon for tools and principles that will make them profitable — as well as relevant — tomorrow.

To this end, organizers have recruited leaders in energy, communications, trade and economic development from across the nation to give their insight and experience. Some of these leaders are local and familiar, such as Carolyn Shanks, senior vice president, administration and corporate support, Enexus Energy Corp. in Jackson, David Rumbarger, president and CEO of Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation, and John Hendrix, director of economic development for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Philadelphia, to name just a few.

The lineup of out-of-state talent is impressive. A sampling includes: Richard Adkerson, president and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc.; James E. Newsome, president and chief executive officer of the New York Mercantile Exchange; Carl Hicks, founder and president of the Growth Group in Chevy Chase, Md.; and Walt C. Coleman III, a National Football League official and longtime owner of Coleman Dairy in Little Rock, Ark. (Adkerson, Newsome and Hicks are MSU alumni).

Full agenda

The 2008 MSU Leadership Summit, which is sponsored by the university’s College of Business and Industry and Division of Academic Outreach and Continuing Education, will offer a full agenda. The event will start September 23 with a little leisure, however. There will be a golf outing at the MSU Golf Course beginning at 11 a.m. And at 6:30 p.m., a networking reception and buffet dinner will be held featuring award-winning editorial cartoonist Marshall Ramsey of The Clarion-Ledger.

The Summit kicks off in earnest September 24. Interim MSU president Vance Watson will lead the welcome session. This will be followed by a panel discussion titled “HD Leadership in a Changing World.

Attendees will then enjoy lunch and a presentation by Coleman.

The afternoon will provide numerous breakout sessions.

After a reception and dinner at the Hunter Henry Center, Powell will give his keynote address. His presentation will begin at 8 p.m. in Humphrey Coliseum. (A limited number of $10 public seats are being made available September 3, beginning at 8:30 a.m., at the coliseum ticket office. Otherwise, the two-day registration fee is $399.)

Spencer said Powell and the other speakers have created much interest, and she is expecting a large crowd for this year’s Summit.

For more information, visit www.aoce.msstate.edu/summit.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

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