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For three decades, the W. P. Carey School has been honoring the achievements of significant contributors to business with the Executive of the Year luncheon, presented by the Dean’s Council of 100. This year’s recipient, USAA CEO Josue Robles, Jr., has not only steered a Fortune 500 financial services company to greater heights, he also served his country proudly through 28 years in the U.S. Army.

But Executive of the Year is more than just a special occasion highlighting incredible accomplishments. Like many events held throughout the year at W. P. Carey, Executive of the Year provides MBA students a golden opportunity to network with leaders from business, government, and beyond.

For W. P. Carey MBA student Monique Whitney, Executive of the Year was truly an eye-opening experience. “I don’t consider myself the networking type — even after years of working in public relations and communications I still get nervous and sometimes feel awkward being with people I don’t know,” she says. “I had the pleasure of sitting by Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and discussing the impact of the previous week’s tragedy in Boston on cities the size and scope of the Phoenix metro.”

Through W. P. Carey events, Monique has expanded her professional network and gained valuable insights from the likes of Harkins Theaters CEO Dan Harkins and Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall. “The networking W. P. Carey makes available to its MBA students is unparalleled,” Monique says. “Clearly, the school has set the kind of standard that has these top-level executives wanting to reach out to students. I haven’t met a single business leader yet who wasn’t genuinely warm and interested in my progress, or willing to provide advice when I asked.”

At W. P. Carey, developing your potential isn’t only related to core business disciplines. Through classroom interactions with faculty, your stellar classmates, and special guests, and through events like Executive of the Year, you can build a vast professional network that will expose you to new ideas and connect you with new opportunities.