Student Leader Insight
Maya Mandel '13
Friday, February 8, 2013 - 10:00am

Last spring, one of my classmates sent me a BusinessWeek article entitled MBAs Learning Leadership the Hard Way. The article was about how “outdoor education is making inroads at a growing number of MBA programs as schools look for more effective ways to teach students the dynamics of leadership and team-building.”

Several weeks ago, 11 of us second-year Columbia Business School (CBS) students returned from a 10-day leadership expedition in Northern Patagonia, Chile with NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School).

You can read about the Inaugural CBS Leadership Expedition to Patagonia in my earlier Voices post; in this post I’d like to share my experience as the student organizer of the expedition.

One of the best things about the CBS student body (at least in my opinion) is their entrepreneurial spirit: if there’s something you’d like to change, just make it happen - it’s usually that simple!

A decade ago I was a student-athlete at the University of Michigan and later went through rigorous Officer Training at the IDF; I learned how invaluable hands-on, outdoor leadership training is. Where else (but CBS) would I be surrounded by such a phenomenal group of like-minded young leaders to serve as the best teammates one could dream about for this adventure? 

So I made it happen.

Expedition to Patagonia

It took a couple of months and a lot of help from the “early adapters”, but we were eventually able to assemble the expedition team: 7 women (!!) and 4 men, 5 different nationalities represented, from 5 different clusters (including one J-Termer).


Early Adapters


I also worked with Professor Michael Morris, the Head of the Program on Social Intelligence (PSI), and with Nayla Bahri, Assistant Dean and Dean of Students, on turning the leadership expedition into a 3-credit leadership course.  The sessions held in NYC prior to the expedition helped all of us to get more out of this trip.

It’s been a tremendous privilege to lead the Inaugural CBS Leadership Expedition.

There are enough eager first-year students that I can rest assured this is the beginning of a new wonderful CBS tradition!




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