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Brig. Gen. David Reist, Lt. Gen. John Bergman and Brig. Gen. Melvin Spiese address University of Chicago Booth School of Business students during a visit to the school May 12 as part of Marine Week 2009. All three generals answered questions about changes they have seen in the Marine Corps throughout their careers and how a civilian might be able to apply Marine leadership concepts in their businesses.

Photo by Cpl. Jose Nava

High ranking officers talk, answer questions at local university

13 May 2009 | Cpl. Jose Nava

In a sun-lit room of the Ida Ndyes Study Lounge in the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, three Marine Corps general officers held a panel in front of students and faculty members yesterday afternoon as part of Marine Week Chicago.

“Our institution believes in the development of young Marines and there are certain characteristics that a Marine needs in order to become a good leader that can be applied in the business world,” said Brig. Gen. Melvin Spiese, commanding general, Training and Education Command, Quantico, Va. “As some people are natural leaders and others are great staff supporters, both types of people are vital in order to accomplish the mission.”

During the one-hour question-answer period, the generals spoke about experiences they’ve had in the Corps throughout their careers and how a civilian might be able to apply Marine leadership principles in their businesses.

Noting similarities between the Marine Corps’ small-unit leadership principles and today’s business practice of accomplishing the mission through small teams, one student asked  how the Marines apply small-unit leadership both in  and out of a combat environment and how these principles could be applied to the business sector.

“The Marine Corps adapts well in almost any situation,” said Brig. Gen. David Reist, assistant deputy commandant, for Installations and Logistics Department, Headquarters Marine Corps, Quantico, Va.  “We as an organization already work on small-unit leadership to solve the problems that arise because we have corporals on the streets of Iraq making choices a lieutenant would.”

Another MBA student asked how the Marine Corps fits into the joint operations environment in today’s type of warfare alongside multiple service branches.

“Through being with a group of people for a long period of time, habitual relationships are formed,” said Reist. “Building the bonds needed to become a cohesive unit is what happens, even across the different service branches.”

Before ending the panel, one student asked how the Corps has been able to retain its young Marines even during a time of war.

“All the Marines that have joined in the last seven or eight years knew that there was a chance of going into a combat environment,” said Spiese, who was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Training Officers Corps program at the University of Illinois in 1976. “The Marine Corps does not joke around about the possibility of being deployed, but those young people joined out of their own will and they decide to stick around on their own.”

The third speaker, Lt. Gen. John Bergman, commander, Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans, has a local reserve unit stationed here in the city, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division. The unit has been involved with conflicts beginning with World War II and currently with present-day operations in the Middle East.

The Booth School of Business was founded in 1898 and offers programs to equip the students with all the necessary knowledge geared toward business and administration.

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