Executive in Residence program brings top business leaders to campus


Suneel Grover

Radford University's College of Business and Economics opened its newly created Executive in Residence program by bringing to campus an alumnus with extensive experience in marketing and predictive and high performance analytics.

Suneel Grover, a senior solutions architect at SAS Institute and a 2000 RU graduate, visited his alma mater Oct. 6-7 to engage with students, faculty and the campus community about current topics affecting today's business world.

While on campus, Grover met with faculty and undergraduate and MBA students interested in careers in analytics. During a presentation to a group of undergraduate students, Grover spoke about his time at RU and how his career has progressed.

"It's wonderful to have the opportunity to give back," said Grover, who has 15 years of experience working in marketing, analytics and data mining. "It's very meaningful to come back to Radford where my career started and share my story and help the students think about some of the considerations that were very difficult for me to navigate through when I was a student. If there's anything I can do to add clarity to the path they're about to go on, that's meaningful."

Senior marketing and management double major Sarah Ponthieux said she gained valuable insight from Grover's visit.

"I was able to learn from him numerous details about my future career field," said the senior from Yorktown, who aspires to a career in marketing analytics. "He was able to guide me in the right direction regarding the possibilities that my studies can bring me. I really enjoyed talking with him about the real world applications of marketing analytics and the job possibilities that the field can offer."


Executive in Residence Suneel Grover talks with COBE students about system analytics.

Second-year MBA student Michael Dada of Gainesville said the Executive in Residence program is advantageous for COBE students, faculty and the entire university.

"The biggest benefit that both faculty and students are seeking is the connection these executives provide and the opportunity for Radford business students to get jobs in corporations." Dada said. "In turn, that would put Radford on the map and subsequently students come back to Radford and hire more students, which in turn will increase success of Radford students. The idea is, as Radford students succeed, Radford University succeeds."

The Executive in Residence program is designed to bring to campus CEOs and senior executives who best represent COBE's strategic initiatives of innovation and analytics. Participating executives will be on campus for one to two days, and will engage with students, faculty and the campus community through such opportunities as classroom sessions and lectures, one-on-one meetings and campus-wide forums.

"Our students will benefit from this program by getting in front of and interacting with successful real-world executives and leaders," COBE Dean George Low said. "These executives will expose our students to current business issues and career paths more frequently than before."

The dean said faculty also will benefit from the having executives on campus.

"It will give faculty an opportunity to ask questions and to hear first-hand about the challenges companies are dealing with today and what skills they are looking for in our students so they can modify their curriculums to provide those experiences for them," Low said. "The Executive in Residence program will help our faculty prepare students to thrive and succeed in the real world of business and be ready to compete for the best jobs when they graduate from RU."

Grover said it was a privilege for him to have "an opportunity to share some of the very recent learnings with faculty so they can think about how to optimize how they teach and be more, not just theoretical, but more practical for the students they are mentoring."

He also said he was excited to work with COBE "in such a way that if I have clients who are looking for analytical talent, I will be speaking with faculty about identifying candidates who could fill those positions. If there's a way to get students from here to get high-quality jobs, that's good for the program, it's good for COBE and it's good for me because I went to school here and I want to see the program succeed."

Marketing Professor Wil Stanton invited Grover to campus to be the inaugural executive in the residence program, which, said Stanton, "gives students and faculty an opportunity to interact with leaders in analytics and innovation. Through those interactions, ideas are shared, future directions explored and the importance of these areas to the future of business education discussed. Each of our executives in residence provides a positive role model to our students and helps them open their minds to areas of career development."

The next scheduled executive is residence is Dr. Ram Reddy, a vice president at Cargill Inc. Reddy, who will be on campus Nov. 3-5, leads Cargill's global oils and liquid products division, directing and developing relationships with the McDonald's Farm to Fork campaign, which spans 70 countries.

Jack Regan, a certified public accountant with extensive experience working with clients in federal, state and local governments, higher education and non-profit organizations, will be on campus Nov. 11-12. David Tomala, the senior director of advanced analytics of ExpressScripts, will be an executive in residence Nov. 10-12.

Oct 15, 2014