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New Leadership in Action initiative helps Broad students become inclusive business leaders

By Grace Griffin, student writer
Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Broad College of Business has launched a new program that gives current and aspiring Spartan leaders the opportunity to grow professionally outside of the classroom. By bringing minds from different backgrounds and experiences to collaborate and to grow with different perspectives, the Leadership in Action program is guiding students to become inclusive leaders who will inspire the future of business.

“Every single student, every single person in Broad, is a leader in some capacity in their life,” Beth Hammond, managing director of the college’s Center for Ethical and Socially Responsible Leadership, said.

To uncover and uplift student leaders specifically, the Broad College launched Leadership in Action on Aug. 26, giving Spartans the opportunity to grow with their peers professionally from the start of the academic year. Funding for the initiative comes from Michigan State University’s Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant, which gave Broad the means to initiate a kickoff summit and six workshops for student leaders.

Alongside Hammond, Ken Horne, then the director of Undergraduate Student Engagement, and Scot Wright, Broad’s DEI program manager, worked together to create and run the successful initiative. Their goal came from wanting to work directly with students to see what they needed to grow as individuals. The co-leads find their purpose in guiding students to success and helping Spartans realize their full potential, prevent burnout and create better experiences for themselves and others. They hope this initiative will grow individual leaders and get them to think through their personal experiences.

“Iron sharpens iron. When you put yourself around folks that are doing amazing things and that are thoughtful, and it’s not competitive, it’s inclusive and purposeful with a shared goal, you accomplish more,” said Horne, who recently became the assistant dean for student affairs and services at MSU’s College of Social Science.

Learning from others

For the initial summit, leaders welcomed Binnu Palta Hill, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion at the Wisconsin School of Business, as a keynote speaker. She gave a powerful message to students, encouraging them to be open minded and surround themselves with others who have different perspectives to see things from all points of view. Her lesson was followed by an interactive session in which students wrote down what they had learned and shared takeaways and experiences. More than 100 students were able to attend the first event, along with leaders of student organizations and clubs honing their approach for reaching students more intentionally and effectively.

“Recruit with purpose,” Wright said. “This isn’t to say that you exclude students, but you have a better understanding of how to articulate what the value add might be in terms of the experience.”

“This understanding has been instrumental as it has allowed me to continually enhance my leadership style and shape the kind of leader I aspire to be recognized as.”

Other speakers at the inaugural event included MSU’s Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, along with Marla McGraw, director of career management at the Broad College’s Russell Palmer Career Management Center, and Kristina Reitler, the Palmer Center’s associate director of employer relations. Students had the luxury of connecting with them and brainstorming with peers on how to practice their takeaways from the day in their professional and personal lives. In addition, two representatives from MSU’s Prevention, Outreach and Education Department, Lydia Weiss, assistant director of climate and response, and LaShondra Hemphill, climate and response specialist, spoke about prevention outreach and supporting one another’s growth.

“After each session, I left with a deeper understanding of my fellow student leaders’ experiences and viewpoints,” said Niya Patel, a supply chain management senior and president of the Broad Student Senate, who has attended two workshops so far. “This understanding has been instrumental as it has allowed me to continually enhance my leadership style and shape the kind of leader I aspire to be recognized as.”

Steps to growth

In addition to getting a free lunch every month, students meet for an hour to discuss topics like how to adapt to a changing world, working on professional language and how to word things precisely and efficiently.  The workshops are designed to be interactive, allowing students to think through their experiences and practice what they have learned in the sessions.

“I recommend attending LIA workshops as they are a great way to connect with fellow students who strive to be leaders in the community and who are passionate about creating an environment that benefits all students,” said Lucas Irwin, a hospitality business senior and vice president of both Broad Student Senate and the Hospitality and Lodging Club. “It is a great way to express your opinions on things that are important to you while also learning from your peers and faculty.”

Opportunities like learning about education abroad and global education from international alumni or speaking directly with Judith Whipple, interim dean of the Broad College, have also taken place through the Leadership in Action workshops. Over the fall semester, one of the workshops featured Daniel Spadafore, the college’s chief of staff, who gave a compelling lecture on finances and trying to stay prepared for all possible outcomes.

Most recently, on Jan. 20, Spartans were able to hear from Guanglong Pang, Broad’s assistant director of education abroad and global engagement. Pang spoke about international experiences and perspectives, encouraging others to experience education abroad.

Looking to the future

Students who have attended the workshops know how beneficial it is to speak and work with established professionals in their chosen careers. They strengthen relationships, grow their networks and motivate one another.

“It’s incredibly easy to believe you have no more room for improvement or that your leadership style is the best it could be. However, sessions like these introduce you to different leaders who have vastly different leadership styles than you. Learning from these perspectives and sharing your own opens doors to what more you can offer your community,” Patel said.

Leadership in Action is an opportunity to not only inspire others but also learn from those who are passionate about sharing their experiences and giving future leaders the tools that they ask for and need. The workshops are designed by and for students to self-reflect and take the initiative to evolve in an actionable way.

“Step out of your comfort zone and never be afraid to speak up about the things you are passionate about,” Irwin advised. “LIA workshops are the perfect space to start this step toward a leadership position. I would also encourage students to take on leadership roles and get involved in the college as these are great opportunities to build on your professional and social skills.”

With the early success of Leadership in Action, the initiative has garnered support from the Broad College dean’s office to continue and extend programming. Future topics and discussions for the spring 2024 semester will be decided by students. During each workshop, students are able to express what would be beneficial for them. Meetings take place monthly in the Eppley Center, and all students are welcome. Contact Beth Hammond at hammon25@msu.edu or Scot Wright at wrigh939@msu.edu for more details.

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