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Indiana University Bloomington

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3M Gives $1 Million Gift to Build New Lab - 02/25/2010

3M Gives $1 Million Gift to Build New Lab

Indiana University's Kelley School of Business has received $1 million from 3M Co. and its foundation for a new professional sales and communications lab for students. It is the first major corporate gift for a $60 million capital campaign to transform the school's facilities for undergraduate students.

The gift will be used to create a lab equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will enable students to receive useful feedback on their efforts to improve presentation, listening and adaptive selling skills. More than 50 percent of Kelley's marketing majors and about 20 percent of its other students accept sales positions after graduation.

The Fortune 500 company has been an active supporter at the Kelley School for many years. It is a sponsor of the school's Center for Global Sales Leadership and it brought its Front Line Leadership Conference to Bloomington two years ago. 3M has a consistent history of hiring Kelley students as interns and new hires, and also has supported Kelley faculty through annual giving and funding of special projects.

"3M has been an extraordinary partner with the Kelley School for many years," said Daniel C. Smith, dean of the Kelley School. "The Sales and Business Communications Lab made possible by 3M will move us forward in preparing students for careers not just in sales, but in all areas of business.

"One of the many strengths of the Kelley School is the way we integrate technical skills with leadership and communications skills. The 3M Lab will allow us to move beyond the development of traditional sales presentation skills by developing students' skills in team selling," Smith added.

"3M is pleased to join the Kelley School in preparing students for success," said Alex Cirillo, vice president, 3M Foundation. "The Center for Global Sales Leadership will make learning relevant and give students practical experience by incorporating leading edge technology into the curriculum. Students will leave ready to succeed and contribute."

Rosann Spiro, executive director of the Center for Global Sales Leadership in Kelley, said the new lab facilities will help students improve their readiness for sales careers through learning and practicing selling skills. Students will get immediate feedback from role-playing mock exercises in the lab, including some involving real corporate buyers. Their experiences will be recorded so faculty can provide clear and specific feedback.

The new facility will include several role play rooms, a conference room for group presentations and a business center, where students will learn about the latest software used in the field and social media networking.

"It will be a much more realistic setting than just going up in front of a classroom to make a presentation," Spiro said. "It will move students further up the learning curve, so when employers come to recruit our students, they'll find them even more prepared than they are today."

"The lab will allow us to improve the ability of students to listen not to just what a prospective customer is saying, but to what is meant and to understand the richness of nonverbal signals during an exchange," added Smith, who also is the Clare W. Barker Chair and a professor of marketing. "By providing a more holistic context in which to develop their communications skills, 3M has made it possible for our students to be better prepared to succeed in an ever more demanding marketplace."

About 300 students are enrolled each year in Kelley's courses on professional and consultative selling, sales management and negotiation, which are now taught in a traditional classroom setting.

There will be a growing need for sales people in this decade, because of expected retirements across corporate America. About 115,000 entry-level sales positions nationally are filled by new college graduates annually.

"Other than production positions, there are more sales positions available in our economy than most other professional positions," said Spiro, also a professor of marketing at Kelley. "Right now, the demand is so great because there's a huge, pent-up retirement demand; and as these people retire, they'll have to move entry-level people up the corporate ladder to replace those retiring.

"What I tell my students is that there's a tremendous opportunity for them to move up quickly, even more than in the past because of all the people in management positions who are retiring," she added. "It's a good place to start your career, because most executives have had some direct sales responsibility. Sales people are closest to the customer and companies want executives at the top levels to have that experience and understand that it's the customer who drives your business."

The 3M Professional Sales and Communications Lab will be one feature of a major transformation and expansion of facilities for Kelley's undergraduate students and faculty. Last year, the school announced a $60 million capital campaign for a two-phase project that will include construction around and renovation of the original School of Business building constructed in 1966.

In addition to the 3M Lab, the renovated building will house needed additional classroom space, a behavioral lab for researchers and a trading room with informational resources comparable to most Wall Street firms. In addition to the traditional structured learning environments, a variety of non-structured learning environments -- places where students can meet between classes and work together on projects -- will be created.

The 3M gift will be counted as part of the Matching the Promise fundraising campaign for the IU Bloomington campus. The goal of the campaign, begun in 2003, is $1.1 billion. Gifts support campaign priorities: scholarships and fellowships for students, especially those from low- and middle-income households; recruitment and retention of top faculty; and construction and renovation of facilities for teaching, learning and research.

For more information regarding this story, please contact
Pam Warden - Kelley School of Business, Office of Development & Alumni Relations.