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MBA Roundtable Uses Its Annual Event to Build Long-term Membership

Posted on | September 28, 2010 | No Comments

The MBA Roundtable is a unique organization whose members comprise business schools from all over the world.  Established in 1995, the Roundtable helps MBA (master of business administration) faculty and program directors drive curricular change within their organizations by delivering events, publications, and research that enable members to openly share ideas with one another and advance the curricula delivered in graduate management education.

Each year at its annual event the organization draws together top MBA deans, associate deans, and program directors to share their experiences and insights.  The 2010 MBA Curricular Innovation Symposium, hosted this year by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, will focus on curricular innovation as a strategic imperative for MBA education.  The event will include case studies, networking opportunities, keynotes and panel discussions featuring speakers whose schools have undergone a significant curricular change.  For the first time, attendees will be able to participate both in person and virtually. There’s also a follow-on day of trips to nearby historic sites like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

“The virtual component is a brand new experiment for us,” says MBA Roundtable Executive Director Carleen Kerttula.  “We are one of the first to offer a  virtual event for the MBA dean and program director audience. We’re breaking new ground…we’re very excited about it.”

“The symposium will showcase four schools that have gone through major curricular innovation within the past two-to-three years and are in the implementation stage.  Their representatives are going to talk about the strategies and processes they followed when designing their new MBA curricula, what  the design outcomes were and how they evaluate the relative investment.  We expect this part of the conference to draw major interest,” Kerttula comments. “We’ve also scheduled a special interactive session with Jeanne Liedtka who’s on the faculty of the Darden School and is an expert on design thinking and innovation. She will provide the group with tools and ideas for better informing and managing the change process.”

Kerttula uses this annual event as a way to attract and build membership.  “There’s quite a bit of interest in our organization because of the event. Attendees come because the topics are of interest in terms of planning for their own schools’ futures and because it gives them an opportunity to network,” says Kerttula.

By using tiered pricing as part of her registration plan, Kerttula uses the event to attract members since she can show that a membership almost pays for itself.

Sometimes it’s not enough for associations to offer information and resources – no matter how valuable. “People may look at an organization like ours and say, ‘Wow, that’s great,’ But they may still not join,” Kerttula comments. “The event provides a tangible product that is much easier to leverage as part of the sales process.  It’s a great tool for engaging new members.”

If you run an association that’s doing events and not optimizing them to increase membership, you might want to reconsider since the payback can be longer term than you think. Says Kerttula: “Our track record demonstrates a near 90% rate of renewals in subsequent years.”

For more information about the 2010 MBA Curricular Innovation Symposium, go to:

To read the full case study about the MBA Roundtable, click here.

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