The Bernstein Center Awards Members of the Student Leadership and Ethics Board with Leadership Development Grants

June 6, 2019

In line with the Center’s mission to provide students with opportunities to cultivate leadership skills and practice ethical decision-making, the Bernstein Center offered Leadership Development grants to members of the Student Leadership and Ethics Board to participate in external conferences or experiential learning activities pertaining to the topics of values-based leadership, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and governance in their fields of interest.

The Leadership Development grant awardees for the 2018-19 academic year were Lawson Curtis MBA ’19, Julie Joseph EMBA ’19, Gladys Ndagire MBA ’19, and Anna Smukowski EMBA ’19. Read on for some reflections on their experiences:

Lawson Curtis MBA ’19

During my 20-month MBA journey at Columbia, I have been afforded the opportunity to explore my curiosities and learn more about how ESG factors and more broadly, sustainable investing, fits in with today’s market participants.

The Bernstein Center has been instrumental in guiding and supporting me in bringing in the top minds and practitioners in sustainable investing to the School since it directly relates to our three focus areas for SLEB: Governance, CSR, and Values-Based Leadership. SLEB proudly hosted ESG representatives from BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, United Nations PRI and many others for intimate roundtables, panel discussions, workshops and more.

Additionally, I was elated to be awarded a Leadership Grant which helped sponsor my participation in the Social Finance Forum in my home town, Toronto, Canada . Due to my participation in the conference, I had the opportunity to meet dozens of practitioners and academics to discuss the current trends in ESG, including climate measures as financial metrics, ESG as a marketing principle, and the top talent being recruited specifically to bring ESG into mainstream portfolios From these conversations, I have taken away so many valuable lessons and I am excited to unlock my path and participate in the development of a strong, stable and collective world economy after graduation.

Julie Joseph EMBA '19

The American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) held its physician executive leadership seminar earlier this year in February and I was thrilled to attend with sponsorship from the Bernstein Center and the Leadership Development Grants. AAPL is the premier organization for physician leadership in the United States. The organization aims to improve the delivery of healthcare by enhancing physician leadership expertise by developing their leadership skillset and instilling shared core values through education, career development, and thought leadership.

The leadership seminar was an amazing opportunity for me to strengthen my leadership and ethical decision-making skills as a healthcare executive. Discussions surrounding leadership styles, effective communication, ethics, and guiding principles were the cornerstone of the conference, and provided me with the opportunity to develop my leadership philosophy and to refine my professional core values. I learned that a leadership philosophy helps one make the right decisions, while core values helps one to adhere to their leadership philosophy. In addition, identifying the leadership styles of others and using this information to effectively communicate as a healthcare leader was emphasized as well.

Being an effective leader involves a well-defined leadership philosophy, strong core values, as well as the ability to effectively listen and communicate. The AAPL physician leadership seminar allowed me to evaluate and strengthen these leadership competencies. And with the healthcare environment being so dynamic, it is even more important to cultivate purposeful physician leaders through conference like this one.

Special thanks to the Bernstein Center for allowing me to participate in this leadership seminar!

 Discussions surrounding leadership styles, effective communication, ethics, and guiding principles were the cornerstone of the conference, and provided me with the opportunity to develop my leadership philosophy and to refine my professional core values."

Gladys Ndagire MBA ’19

With 73,718 attendees from 106 different countries and 2,000 plus sessions, South by Southwest (SXSW) 2019 was one of the most extensive and influential conferences I have ever attended. At the conference, I wanted to spend my time delving into three key themes which professionally and personally interest me as a future business leader: empowering a diverse workforce, food entrepreneurship, and emerging careers in the AI economy. Here are a few takeaways from these themes:

  • Empowering a diverse workforce: This year's conference coincided with International Women's Day, and Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital, kicked off the conversation by discussing the work still needed to be done to lift up and empower underrepresented female investors. And at SAP house, sponsored by the German multinational software company, I learned about neurodiversity and the company's autism at work program. By focusing on adaptive functioning and augmenting strengths (versus development areas), companies like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and SAP are increasing the talent pool and workforce productivity of existing neurodiversity employees.
  • Food entrepreneurship: Insects, cauliflower, and cannabis were the top food highlights at SXSW 2019. Austin’s Google Fiber space hosted dozens of initiatives for climate friendly healthy food and I even had the opportunity to try out different cricket chocolate pairings and bee larvae. And cauliflower had an entire exhibition to itself, celebrating its diverse application as the preferred pizza base. Cannabusiness startups and panels on CBD regulations also took center stage at the SXSW wellness exhibition led by predominantly female founders, including Undefined Beauty, Bäde, and Cheekywell. Entrepreneurs I spoke with cited challenges with banking technology as state and federal government policies are not yet fully aligned on how to regulate cannabusiness.
  • Emerging AI careers: A big question at the conference was, “What happens after AI takes our jobs?” SAP house took on this question through the interactive Resume of the Future experience, which involved answering a series of five questions to map out what your career may look like by 2025. While my likely profession by 2025 is “digital credentialist”, robot choreographer, passion broker, and various ethics roles, I learned that automation and AI may replace repeatable tasks but cannot replace the humanity driving intimate connections between workforce, mission, vision, and values.

Anna Smukowski EMBA’19

Check out Anna’s article on “Ethical Implications of For Profit Impact Measurement Organizations,” based upon her participation in the Tamer Center’s Social Enterprise Conference and The Atlantic’s Power of Purpose Summit.

For more information, please feel free to visit our Student Leadership and Ethics Board homepage.