Learning to lead in all areas of life

By Lauren Lavelle

Dr. John H. Shannon speaks to students at the second annual Leadership Symposium on Feb. 20.
Dr. John H. Shannon speaks to students at the second annual Leadership Symposium on Feb. 20.

Students from Rider, TCNJ, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Stockton came together to explore the idea of leadership and retain important skills that will help them in the future during Rider’s Center for the Development of Leadership Skills (CDLS) second annual Leadership Symposium on Feb. 20.

“The vision of this symposium has always been the opportunity to foster an environment where students from various institutions can gather and talk about leadership through a shared experience together and have a dialogue with some knowledgeable professionals,” said associate director of the CDLS Laura Seplaki. “It’s designed to be interactive, engaging and a day to get really involved in the process.”

The day began with Robert Schimek, ’87, the executive vice president and CEO of Commercial, which oversees American International Group’s (AIG) commercial insurance businesses worldwide, and Dr. John H. Shannon, the associate professor of legal studies at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall.

Both men worked to instill their own sense of leadership in the minds of the students by discussing their own life experiences, as well as the effect certain trends have in our world today.

“Our world is so rapidly evolving, especially over the last number of years,” said Seplaki. “If our students aren’t informed or at least aware, then they’re already behind. So the ideas they give will be very much focused on helping them to gain a perspective of what they can do now to be more ready in the future.”

After lunch, the students were divided into groups and provided with a case study to decipher and analyze, applying what they learned to a real-life situation.

The students were then given the task of presenting their findings to a small panel of judges, including Harold V. Laudien, the president and CEO of Mercer Wealth Management; Michael Reuter, the director of the Gerald P. Buccino Center for Leadership Development; and Susan A. O’Sullivan-Gavin, associate professor of legal studies in the Department of Marketing, Advertising and Legal Studies in the College of Business at Rider.

“They will be judged based on their ability to talk about how they will be flexible, adaptable, imaginative, creative and resilient,” said Seplaki.

The participants were critiqued on their overall demonstrations and given feedback on the quality of their leadership skills.

Seplaki hopes the students walked away with a new, more efficient definition of the word leadership.

“When you learn to be a stronger, more effective leader, you’re not only learning how to be a more successful professional, but a more successful wife, husband, daughter, mother — whatever the case might be,” she said. “The skills that you learn with leadership are transferable to all areas of your life and can really improve your well-being and your success in so many different ways.”

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