Park Perspectives: Celebrating 20 years of the Park Leadership Fellowship
By Brian Guo, Two-Year MBA ’19
Park Perspectives are authored by Johnson’s Park Leadership Fellows.
Trying to survive my first semester at business school was difficult enough with all of our obligations… Why would I ever sign up for an optional event—in New York City no less? Before starting business school, I promised myself that I would always find time to take advantage of all the unique opportunities that would be offered to me. So there I was, running late as per usual because I had spent the majority of my Saturday video conferencing into my core team meetings for our weekend-long Integrative case competition.
Not your average Saturday
I looked for a familiar face in the sea of people circulating the room atop Rockefeller Center. I was with 12 other 2019 classmates mingling among the crowd of 300 people, the majority of whom were Park Fellows. This event marked the 20th anniversary of the Roy H. Park Fellowship. Johnson Park Leadership Fellows from the last 20 years descended upon New York City to see familiar faces and recount stories of their MBA experiences.
Leaders come from differing cultures, industries, and experiences
Walking into the large crowd, I was slightly overwhelmed by how many people traveled near and far to attend this event. Bowties, cocktail dresses, and festive holiday attire canvased the floor. Seeing 20 different classes of Johnson students interacting, as voices were raised and pictures (and selfies) shamelessly snapped, I was filled with pride and excitement.
As I surveyed the room, I paused and noticed how diverse this group was. The business world is often criticized for over-representing Caucasian males in leadership positions, but as I looked at many of the last 20 years of Johnson’s Park Leadership Fellows, I see Johnson & the Park program striving to buck this trend. I saw:
- people of all ethnic backgrounds
- an equal distribution of men and women
- tall and short people, young and old people
- people in the public sector and people in the private sector
- employees at Fortune 100 companies and small business owners
- introverts and extroverts
Leadership is far-reaching
While we sat for dinner, Jennifer Dulski ’93, MBA ’99, recounted five powerful stories demonstrating how an individual’s leadership can have profound impact on broader audiences. As the head of Groups and Communities at Facebook, and former president and COO of Change.org, Jennifer sees first-hand how leadership can be used to serve our communities. Effective leaders focus on supporting and developing those around them so that everyone is able to perform at extremely high levels. Johnson’s leadership programming focuses on equipping students with skills to accomplish this. This is evident through the “diverse teams” training, abundance of self-reflection based activities, and feedback oriented conversations during teambuilding activities and treks. The Park Fellowship doubles down on these skills through retreats, volunteering, and our community-focused service project.
The best leaders are adaptable
When Roy H. Park Jr., MBA ’63, took the stage and spoke about what Cornell and Johnson has meant to him, he gave me chills. A year ago, I was fumbling through the admissions process, unsure of what separated me from other applicants. I always viewed myself as a leader, but I could never articulate what type of leader I was. Fast forward a year, and I still haven’t exactly labeled my leadership style. What I have done is embrace what the Park Fellowship has taught me, which is to channel my self-awareness and to empathize with and empower those around me. I understand that it is OK not having one specific leadership style, and that the best leaders are adaptable in varying situations. I have to continue honing my ability to inspire those around me to achieve their goals. And although I was wading through the heart of recruiting season with hours of schoolwork awaiting me, the few hours I spent at the 20th anniversary dinner clearly reminded me of just how powerful leadership can be.
About Brian Guo, Two-Year MBA ’19
Previous Academic Institution(s): The College of New Jersey
Previous Employer: Bank of America US Trust
Interests: Investment Banking, All Things Finance, Globetrotting, Volleyball, People