Learning to Lead Fearlessly-Shantan
Hey everyone! I am Shantan Sawa and I am currently a first-year student, pursuing my Master of Science in Information Systems.
I came to the program without any prior work experience, graduating from my undergraduate college in India in the May of 2017. So, it is fair to say that I am as green as it gets. My experience working with teams and having opportunities to present myself as a leader was fairly limited. Once I was admitted to the Robert H. Smith School of Business, it dawned on me how important a skill set including leadership capabilities and team spirit is. I believed that when the moment presented itself I’d be able to step up to lead people. However, after attending the Maryland Leadership Conference (MLC) during the first week of November, I gained insights into my own perspective of what it means to be a leader: a team member and a team player.
As an ambassador for the Smith Masters Student Association (SMSA), I was sponsored by the school to attend the MLC that took place on November 4th and 5th at Camp Letts, a 40-minute drive from the campus. With close to 100 participating students from all majors and years across the University of Maryland, MLC was open to everybody who was keen on learning and was enthusiastic about understanding team dynamics. MLC brought together a melting pot of individuals from different cultural backgrounds, coming together to feel inspired and connect with others.
Over the course of two days, we took part in multiple team building exercises, such as the Bull Ring Challenge, and also had moments of reflection on team player characteristics such as to the sort of team player an individual is and how every person has their own individualistic, unique, idiosyncratic form of latent leadership, inherent within themselves. From my perspective, being in the business school means grooming the leaders of tomorrow. This experience cannot be quantified in terms of time or monetary value, but as an important opportunity to mold my dormant leadership style and team dynamics. I believe leadership is something that cannot be taught, but developed. It is a never-ending learning process where at every instance, I am adding on to my current style, striving towards the leader I aspire to be.