Graduates of the WorkBoat Strategic Leadership Development Program were greeted by football great Joe Thiesmann at their graduation luncheon Tuesday, capping the second year of the joint program with Louisiana State University’s Executive Leadership Program.

The former NFL MVP quarterback and Super Bowl champion told the class of maritime professionals that “leadership the way I define it is purely influence.” Over two years the WorkBoat/LSU program has graduated 32 mid-career students so far and a third class is gathering for 2016.

“The maritime group is one of the best networking classes. They really mesh well together,” said Michelle Boullion, associate director of the LSU executive education program. “It’s a good network approach.”

“As it gets more globalized, it’s important for these young operators to find ways to network,” said Robin Kistler, the LSU program director. The training includes case studies on business strategy and execution, and benefits from being able to tap into LSU’s large faculty, she said.