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STIHL Inc. Hosts Kickoff to Executive Mentor Program for 2014-15

For three years, Old Dominion University's (ODU) Strome College of Business (SCB) has matched some of its top students with mentors in the business community, and the results have been stellar.

The Strome College Executive Mentor program, created in fall 2012 by Assistant Dean Connie Merriman, has grown from a pilot program of eight students and mentors to 30 mentors, and there is still a need for additional mentors to support all of the students who are eligible for the program.

"I think the best recommendation we received came from a student participant, who suggested we advertise the program to all business majors," Merriman said. However, a unique thing has happened with the partnerships between business executives and top ODU students. The mentors have mentioned over and over to Merriman how much they enjoy being in the program as well.

"They have been successful, and want to give back. These mentors have told me how enjoyable it is to work with these students. They love their energy and passion," Merriman said.

Bjoern Fischer, vice president of finance with STIHL Inc. has been a mentor in the program since its inception and serves as chairperson of the Mentoring Subcommittee of the SCB Executive Advisory Council. He feels so strongly about the program that he volunteered STIHL Inc. headquarters in Virginia Beach as the host venue for the fall 2014 kick-off of the Executive Mentor Program on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 24.

"STIHL Inc. believes it is critical to our community and the future of our industry that young people know that we are interested and invested in their careers. It is only through exposure to a variety of career options that students can find the best fit for their future success," said Fischer.

The event will feature sessions hosted by members of the mentoring subcommittee of the Strome College of Business Executive Advisory Council. Presentations include career information sessions on public accounting; sales, marketing and growth; finance and wealth management; and supply chain management.

"The Strome College Executive Mentor program provides unique opportunities for students and mentors to network. Students can learn about current topics and challenges faced by business, and mentors, too, can learn from the students regarding their perspective," said Fischer. "It is rewarding to spend time with some of the best students in their field."

The intent of the kick-off event is to host an information session and discussion with several mentors or experts from a specific field to highlight the career paths, the spectrum of professions within that field, and discuss what it is like working in those fields. The goal is to give some insight to the mentees of how to get into those fields and how different some of the professions may be.

The event also includes a tour of the STIHL Inc. manufacturing facility, which is the largest producing facility in the worldwide STIHL Group.

The Strome College of Business Executive Mentor program was established to provide some of the college's strongest students an opportunity to learn from successful executives, entrepreneurs and public-sector leaders.

The Executive Mentor program is an example of Old Dominion University's commitment to entrepreneurship, supported through a donation of $11 million by the Strome Family Foundation, led by Mark Strome (a 1978 ODU alumnus) and his wife Tammy Strome.

ODU's Strome Entrepreneurial Center will be dedicated on Thursday, Sept. 26 in a ceremony on Kaufman Mall.

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