Professionals Share Personal Stories with SEBA’s Leadership Fellows

fellowsSince getting off the ground in February, SEBA’s Leadership Fellows Program has given its inaugural undergraduate fellows unique opportunities to rub shoulders with influential guests and glimpse possible future careers.

At the beginning of April, the Leadership Fellows met with Woodrow Wilson Fellows Jeffrey Brown, an award-winning co-anchor and senior correspondent for the PBS News Hour and Paula Crawford, an accomplished artist who has exhibited her work internationally. Crawford’s book The Art Student’s Sourcebook and Survival Guide is a mainstay for artists, students and teachers worldwide.

Brown and Crawford spoke to the wider Saint Mary’s community about the media, politics, culture, art and the true value of a liberal arts education. Afterwards, the Leadership Fellows met privately with the couple, asking them questions about their career paths. The two guests spoke about the role of serendipity—being in the right place at the right time—in their professional lives, and the need for a dedicated work ethic.

“It’s important for the Fellows to get to hear from multiple perspectives,” said Nancy Lam, Guyette Professor in Responsible Leadership. “Not only will they hear from business leaders, but also luminaries from different fields—including journalism and the arts.”

A few weeks after their conversation with Crawford and Brown, the Leadership Fellows invited Rich Bechtel ’84, Executive MBA ’94, to share his insights. Bechtel is the director of executive search for Apple and a member of the SEBA Dean’s Advisory Board. Bechtel revealed that as he began his career, he was very unclear on what his professional path would be.

He spoke openly about his confusion in the weeks prior to his undergraduate commencement. Before his parents dissuaded him, his dream job at that point was driving a bus. But after graduation, Bechtel took an entry-level sales job for Xerox where he developed the core skills he would need later in his career. Bechtel urged the Fellows to be forward-thinking and to look for positions early in their career that would develop their core skills.

Next year’s agenda for the Fellows is still under construction, but Lam alluded to a significant partnership and project ahead. Born out of a generous gift from Jim and Kaye Guyette, the Leadership Fellows Program teaches a select group of Saint Mary’s undergraduates the leadership techniques to cultivate their potential.