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Recently, Connected spoke with Ayesha Guzder, who attended Columbia Essentials of Management in April 2008. We wanted to know why she decided to take this particular program and how she has been able to implement some ideas at her company in India.
Connected: What motivated you to take an executive education course?
Ms. Guzder: I am the sixth generation promoter-owner of my family-run business in India. Our company, AFL Private Limited, is in the business of Domestic and International Express (Courier), Cargo and Logistics. I am preparing to take a more active role in heading the company, as well as being on its board. I wanted to equip myself with the necessary tools to run this company efficiently and dynamically, as well as bring forth new ideas and management skills that will help make the company grow and profit into the next generation.
Connected: Why did you choose to take Columbia Essentials of Management?
Ms. Guzder: I researched a number of executive education programs at different institutions. I chose Columbia Essentials of Management (CEM) because it was a well-rounded program that touched upon all aspects of business management: finance, marketing, leadership, strategy, organizational alignment and integrated global supply chain management.
Additionally, networking was also a reason I selected CEM. With Columbia's reputation, I was sure that I would meet a diverse and interesting group of people from all over the world who would be great contacts to have in the future.
Connected: What are your thoughts on the Columbia faculty in the program?
Ms. Guzder: I was privileged to meet the faculty; each of them was outstanding in their own fields and gave us carefully thought out presentations, with content that I could apply to every aspect of my work. Some sessions that greatly impacted me and remain with me until today are the sessions on Experiential Marketing, by Bernd Schmitt; The Art & Science of Leadership and Motivation, by Hitendra Wadhwa; and Tomorrow Today: A Look Into the Now of the Future, by Cliff Schorer. Additionally, Integrated Global Supply Chain Management was another great session, which was especially pertinent to my business.
Connected: What are some lessons from the program that you have been able to implement?
Ms. Guzder: The most important thing that CEM taught me was how to become an effective leader. On my return, I relied on the many sessions that taught us what it takes to become an effective and meaningful leader. I now realize what my own personal leadership credo is, and that is always in my mind when I am running my business and in ongoing interactions with other people.
Secondly, I took away from the program the suggestions made to me by Cliff Schorer, Entrepreneur-in-Residence. As my case was chosen for a final presentation, I got added input from Mr. Schorer that was helpful to me and my business: from how we should rethink branding and co-branding, to actual business strategy and thinking out-of-the box. I have implemented most of his suggestions and find that they have made a marked improvement in the way with which we think of our business, our approach to our customers, and leveraging the brand we already have.
Thirdly, I found Prof. Wadhwa's presentation insightful, and it has made me more self-aware. Consequently, upon my return I have consciously changed the way in which I deal with delicate issues at the workplace, difficult decisions that need to be made, and most importantly, the manner in which I go about my daily routine. I find his insights have helped me gain calm and increased my motivation level, as well as understand how to attain goals I previously thought unreachable.
Lastly, I found the program intellectually stimulating, I made wonderful contacts with my colleagues, and it was well worth the time spent. I came back to my business having gained a better understanding of all that it takes to successfully manage a business, people and become a successful leader. The program has been tremendously enriching both professionally and personally. The faculty were outstanding and provided a lot of practical solutions and ways which have helped me gain a deeper understanding of how I can better manage and lead my organization to the top.
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Jennifer Cattaui talks about how the Columbia Management Institute program allowed her to learn more big picture ideas and perspectives.
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