Persuading young leaders that this is where they belong


This Thanksgiving, I can’t help but remember my first one here — 28 years ago. Filled with our typical Southern traditions of deep-fried turkey and praline topped sweet potatoes, it was also filled with an afternoon on Key Biscayne Beach — and an evening of shaking out the sand in our shoes. Like many young couples in their first home, we were toasting our amazing new life in the Magic City.

The difference that first year is that “I” had to return, like so many other South Florida visitors who were here with their families, to my job in New York with AT&T rather than settling in for our first holiday season in our newly adopted hometown of Miami.

In spite of an MBA and nine years of post-undergraduate experience, no one would hire me in Miami so that I could follow my husband, who had accepted a leadership position at what was then Southeast Bank.

More than two decades later and after careers at both Price Waterhouse and IBM Miami, I was fortunate to assume the role of director of career services at the Ziff Graduate Career Services Center at the University of Miami and support this generation of MBAs. I hope to extend their school holidays into local careers so that they permanently have “sand in their shoes.”

Five years ago, I began calling on many people in our business community encouraging them to hire locally, to give this generation of business leaders the same opportunity that ultimately was afforded to me. Additionally, I urged our MBAs to take other community leadership positions by funding the first-ever MBA Leadership Miami class cohort and hosting the first United Way Young Leaders Fund Raiser for MBA’s last fall, co-hosted this year with them and the newly formed LINC support group.

With 81 percent of student hired from the UM MBA Class of 2014 and 94 percent hired from 2015, predominantly working in South Florida, there are hundreds of new young Miami business leaders who will be celebrating this Thanksgiving and, I hope, many more, counting their blessings and with sand in their shoes, too.

These results, along with other important metrics including excellence in curriculum and faculty, deserve applause. Under UM School of Business Dean Eugene Anderson, UM has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek No. 47 in the United States for full-time MBA programs. It is a true recognition of our business community’s commitment to hire its own, the ripple effect that this creates for all local educators and our shared commitment to have finally mitigated the longstanding concern of our “brain drain.”

I might not be frying turkey this year, but instead return to that spot on the beach on Key Biscayne to fill my shoes with sand — and toast our business community for affording our students the holiday blessing to live, work and contribute to the exciting future we all share in the Magic City.

Mary M. Young is the director of the Ziff Career Services Center for the University of Miami’s School of Business.