Online SOM Students Meet in Boston for Leadership Immersion
On the top floor of the Simmons School of Management there is a wall of windows leading to a rooftop patio overlooking the famed Simmons College cupola with the Boston city skyline in the distance. It was impossible to miss as students stepped off the elevator and checked in for the immersion weekend. By most standards, January in Boston isn’t patio weather, but with the stunning view, some couldn’t help but dart outside for a quick photo op.
Back inside, students from Simmons College’s online MBA and Health Care MBA programs excitedly greeted each other. “Meeting my classmates in person for the first time was electric and electrifying,” said MBA@Simmons student Lisa Hooper. “The fact that I already had a relationship with many of the people and then got to meet them in person made it remarkably impactful.”
School of Management Professor Cynthia Ingols led the three-day Leadership and Strategic Career Management Immersion on the Simmons College campus in Boston. The course challenged students to examine themselves as leaders, articulate their career and leadership ambitions, and formulate paths to attain their career visions — a lofty challenge, to be sure.
In preparation for the immersion weekend, students assessed their leadership skills and collected feedback from their colleagues using the Leadership Practices Inventory. The inventory is an assessment tool that gave students perspective on how they view themselves as leaders along with how other people view them. Throughout the weekend, the individual feedback reports were used as a reference point for students to improve upon their leadership style and skills.
In one of the first activities on campus, students mapped their career paths, charting high and low points both professionally and personally. For HealthCareMBA@Simmons student Manjola Ujkaj, it was a powerful exercise that helped her recognize her internal strength. “It’s often easy to forget [your own strength], especially when you’re overwhelmed with deadlines and challenges or illness.” The career maps, which lined the classroom walls for the duration of the weekend, served as a visual illustration of each student’s unique experience.
Examining leadership feedback and career experiences gave way to discussions focused on managing and building personal brands. Guest speaker Alesia Latson is an expert on the subject. Latson has studied and practiced the art and science of leadership and organizational development for more than 20 years. Using examples from her life and from students, Latson demonstrated the impact of personal branding and gave students actionable ways to build their own brands.
As HealthCareMBA@Simmons student Yiu Wing Wu explained, “Every single topic presented at the immersion is so relevant to my career right now, and I walked away with so many useful tools.”
Each session during the immersion provided takeaways that students could immediately bring back to their careers.
“Throughout the weekend we were essentially producing a guidebook for ourselves … and I have referred to it many times since,” Hooper said. “It’s good to have that kind of tangible thing that is customized to me, my needs, the things that I have to work on, and the strengths that I have, as well as my weaknesses. It's completely tailored to me, and I think that’s awesome.”