McDonough School of Business

Executive Challenge

Why would someone want to be led by you? That is the key question asked of all Georgetown McDonough MBA students in the required Leadership Communications course. To help students find the answer, Georgetown McDonough launched the Executive Challenge in spring 2017 for all first-year, Full-time MBA students.

About the Executive Challenge

The Executive Challenge is a day-long, team role-play “case competition” that serves as the course’s final exam. The challenge simulates a day in the life of a senior leader. It tests students on what they have learned —particularly in the areas of leadership communication, influence, motivation, and relationship-building skills.

In order to ensure that the role-play cases are realistic, nearly 140 alumni judges play board members, investors, and senior executives — challenging students to deal with them in real-world difficult conversations. Students must try to persuade, motivate, and build relationships with the judges, who provide immediate feedback on their performance.  

“You can’t teach business communications in a lecture hall,” says Evelyn Williams, teaching professor of management who coordinates the event. “The Executive Challenge brings real experience into the classroom and asks students to face uncertainty in situations that simulate what executives deal with every day.”

The Leadership Communications course explores six communications challenges: influence, assertiveness, re-setting expectations, conflict, decision making, and managing the boss. Students in the course are coached along the way by Leadership Fellows, high-performing second-year MBA students who received additional leadership development experience. During the final exam, the judges rate students on their ability to execute task management, process communication, and relationship management. Leadership Fellows also provide feedback on student performance at the end of the day.

Read more about the Executive Challenge on the Clear Admit website or listen to the Clear Admit MBA podcast episode featuring Professor Evelyn Williams and Matt Gallo (MBA’21).

MBA students in Hariri Atrium

Corporate Sponsorships

The Executive Challenge offers a tremendous opportunity for corporations to engage the school in a mutually beneficial partnership and support this unique Georgetown McDonough education experience. To learn more about Executive Challenge sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elie Farhat, chief external affairs officer, at

If you prefer to make an individual contribution supporting the Executive Challenge, please make a gift online and include “MSB Executive Challenge” in the “Other” designation box.

The 2022 Executive Challenge was sponsored by EY.

What Students and Alumni Say About the Executive Challenge

“Thinking on your feet, deescalating conflict, and developing creative solutions are what the Executive Challenge was all about. However, what stood out to me during the day was the commitment and advice of the alumni who came out to participate. Hearing the feedback from our alumni judges was an invaluable experience.”

Katharine Tymcio (MBA’18)

“In the real world, it is about relationships. It is about connecting with people, especially when you want to get someone’s vote.”

Andy Blocker (EMBA’02), executive vice president of public policy and advocacy, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

“Students who are going through the MBA program need to recognize the importance of leadership management and conflict management within an organization in a real-time basis. The Executive Challenge gave them a chance to see what it is like to be involved in a real-time situation.”

Maximo Blandon (MBA’88), managing director of Stephens Inc. and chair of the Georgetown McDonough Baratta Center for Global Business