For the first time ever, second-year students — including J-termers — gathered together for the Leadership Lab’s inaugural Re-Orientation event. Led by Michael Morris, the Chavkin-Chang Professor of Leadership and director of the Leadership Lab, Re-Orientation sought to create a sense of unity and cohesion among second-year students, with the goal of promoting leadership development through community engagement.
“The second year is when people enrich leadership skills like persuasion and relationship building. You can’t learn these purely in the classroom. You learn them through engaging with the CBS community — the class, cluster, clubs, and the network,” said Morris. “The event was ... partly a ceremony of class unity, welcoming the J-term clusters into sync with the fall-term clusters; partly a chance to reconnect with one's cluster and friends; and partly an arena for cross-cluster networking.”
The program was made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Deloitte Foundation to expand the Leadership Lab, with a particular focus on areas related to second-year students. The Deloitte Foundation is serving as a lead sponsor of the Leadership Lab for a two-year period, which includes support for the Re-Orientation program and a leadership author series. “The Deloitte Foundation is proud to support the Leadership Lab and to help students develop the skill sets that great leaders possess. We recognize the importance of developing skills such as the ability to make wise management decisions in a complex, fast-paced business environment, to inspire and lead individuals and teams to meet strategic objectives, and to shape organization culture and lead through periods of rapid change and adaptation,” noted Kathy Shoztic, executive director of the Deloitte Foundation. “Like Columbia Business School, the Deloitte Foundation is deeply committed to developing students and helping them acquire the knowledge and experience to take on the leadership mantle in their careers.”
The former global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, Barry Salzberg, is now the James P. Gorman Professor of Professional Practice in Business Strategy and Bernstein Faculty Leader at the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics, as well as an advisory board member for the Leadership Lab at the School.
At Re-Orientation, students engaged in experiential games designed to emphasize the importance of relationship building in a post-MBA career. One game involved students reuniting with their clusters to develop “cluster messages” — ideas for making the most of the second year. These messages would then be broadcast to the entire room, with each clustermate taking a role in the broadcast, either speaking, dancing, chanting or drumming. The messages were then judged by Management Division professors Modupe Akinola, Bill Duggan, and Todd Jick.
At Re-Orientation, students and alumni were also presented with awards to recognize their personal growth and accomplishments. The Emerging Leader Award was presented to one student in each cluster who, in the eyes of his or her classmates, grew as a leader during the first year of business school. Winners are selected based on a round of assessments that were recently instituted called “Growth 360,” in which students rate each other’s leadership skills at the end of their first year. “The award went to a person in each cluster who had grown a lot as a leader — who had stretched themselves during the first year — in the eyes of their classmates,” Morris says. “A lot of the cluster leadership is elected very early on based on first impressions, [so] this award recognizes some of the informal leaders who emerged during the first year. The hard part,” he adds, “is that so many students in each cluster qualify for the Emerging Leader Award, as most students do change in the eyes of their classmates over the course of the first year.”
The Class of 2017 winners were Saskia Chanoine, Giulia Domenichini, Daniela Dukes, Elizabeth Gao, Pedram Ghasemlou, Seema Hirsch, Erwan Kerouredan, Alryl Koroma, Eric Legunn, Zach Rieger, and Gabriel Souza Adde.
Meanwhile, two alumni were also presented with awards. The “Exemplary Leadership Award” recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves in the decade after getting their MBA. The 2017 winners were Curtis Ravenel ’01 and Cyrus Massoumi ’03. Ravenel serves as director of sustainability at Bloomberg LP, where he led the global “Green” initiative and more recently developed the ESG product, while Massoumi is the founder of online medical-care startup Zocdoc and humbition, which invests in early-stage, mission-driven businesses. Both winners spoke at the event.
“We selected a classic entrepreneur, Cyrus Massoumi, who started Zocdoc, and a classic ‘intrapreneur,’ Curtis Ravenel, who convinced a global company, Bloomberg, to go green and then launched the company’s environmental sustainability analytics. Their talks told very different stories, but the same leadership skills were at the center of their successes: persuasion and relationship building,” Morris said.
Going forward, Morris says he hopes to improve the Re-Orientation experience every year and make it responsive to student interests. “The goal is to make the second year at CBS as much of a community experience as the first year.”