Women learning how to leverage poker skills in boardroom
When Marilyn Caton started her MBA studies, she never imagined learning to bluff her way to big pots at the poker table.
Yet that is what the second-year student at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management has been studying every week.
In a free pilot program offered with the educational site Poker Powher, Caton and 98 other female students have been learning from the Illinois university faculty about negotiation, decision-making and emotional intelligence.
They test those strategies with a few hands of Texas Hold `Em, a popular poker variant. The aim is to apply these skills in corporate environments. After all, what is a boardroom but a place where power players read each other and make high-stakes decisions with the best available information at the time?
“These skills are hugely applicable,” said Caton, who on her most recent session ended up 90 per cent in virtual chips, with the help of some stone-cold bluffing while holding nothing but two pair.
“A lot of these soft skills like negotiation, leadership, and advocating for yourself, you can put into play in the office on Day One.”
Every Wednesday, 99 women gather virtually — some full-time Kellogg students, some part-time, and some executive MBA candidates — for a two-hour session.
The first hour is devoted to faculty insight from professors like Victoria Medvec, an expert in negotiation and decision-making. The second hour includes coaching from real-life poker champs like Melanie Weisner.
Students then break out into groups of nine to play a few hands, each table guided by a poker expert.
Kellogg and Poker Powher hope to turn the six-session extracurricular trial into a more formal offering next winter.