Inaugural partnership among Grady College, Terry College and UGA Executive Education draws industry leaders to crisis management workshop

Dean Charles Davis greets attendees at The Terry Executive Education Center.
Dean Charles Davis greets attendees at The Terry Executive Education Center.

Inaugural partnership among Grady College, Terry College and UGA Executive Education draws industry leaders to crisis management workshop

May 01, 2024

Grady College’s Crisis Communication Think Tank (CCTT) partnered with the Terry College of Business and UGA Executive Education on a crisis readiness program for business leaders on Friday, April 12, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. The program included presentations about proactive crisis management strategies, how legal and risk management interact, the complexities of technology, media training and a crisis scenario simulation. 

Leading scholars and industry experts led the day-long event and engaged with participants about issues and crises faced by their businesses. The morning sessions tackled persistent challenges including understanding and communicating with stakeholders, legal and risk implications in decision making and the advanced nature of technology, software breaches and AI. 

“I had the privilege of leading a session of the all-day CCTT program, hosted at the Terry College of Business Executive Education Center in Buckhead. As a long-time instructor in Terry’s executive programs, I found Friday’s experience distinctive, merging industry, practitioner and academic expertise,“ said Mike Pfarrer, the associate dean for Research and Executive Programs at Terry College of Business. “More than 20 Atlanta-based senior crisis and communication leaders, from a variety of non-profits and firms, shared their insights with instructors. The result was a day of mutual learning, and we all left with an enhanced READINESS toolkit to prepare for and respond to crises in their many forms.” 

Afternoon sessions included a media training for business leaders about confronting growing crises and how to communicate them with the public. Later, Greg Trevor, spokesperson and senior advisor for crisis communications at the University of Georgia, led a crisis simulation. Participants were tasked with devising a communication plan for a hypothetical scenario with limited information and time, as crisis situations often require. This simulation gave participants the opportunity to put their newfound knowledge to use and test their ability to truly manage a crisis situation. 

“The day truly flew by and left all of us feeling better equipped to deal with the challenges that accompany crises in the ever-changing landscape we all face,” said Jim Carson, head of the Department of Insurance, Legal Studies and Real Estate and director of the Risk Management and Insurance Program at Terry College. 

CCTT Director and Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership Yan Jin discusses the READINESS model.

The programming presented approaches for a litany of issues present in the public and private sectors. Overall, the event underscored the importance of collaboration and highlighted how the intricacies of crisis readiness necessitate deliberate endeavors to unite varied expertise areas. The program supplied participants the knowledge, skills and efficacy to lead through crises, influence stakeholders, leverage resources and enhance business processes.

“The material and speakers were excellent and it was great to see firsthand the fruits of collaboration in the academic world that I strive for in the private sector,” said Patrick Flynn, manager of the Crisis Management Program for Southern Company. “Day to day we can function in our own silos, but in planning for and responding to crises it takes intention and preparation to pull these groups together.”

This was the inaugural partnership between the CCTT and UGA Executive Education. The event facilitated an intersection between various UGA colleges and leaders from different segments of the industry. By bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds, the event served as a dynamic crossroads where insights, experiences and best practices were shared.

“Our first-ever executive training session was a smashing success. It’s an exciting partnership with Terry College, and I was so impressed with the attendees and presenters, who created an open, interactive day filled with insights for crisis communication practitioners,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College.

Authors: Lila Maiolo and Kathryn Penn