June 2, 2012
By Vivian Hui
I had the pleasure of attending the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering’s Celebrate Your Leadership Story event to mark ten years of engineering leadership education at the University of Toronto. The Institute invited alumni and new graduates back to campus as part of Spring Reunion weekend. I was excited to engage with people who share a passion for leadership. Such passion embraced the room with youthfulness and vigor, and I could feel the influence of leadership through everyone’s enthusiasm.
Everyone has a leadership story, and we were gifted with the inspiring stories of four unique leadership experiences. The stories were filled with the works of leadership across all facets of life. Leadership worked its way into four individuals: impacting one to carry leadership values throughout her professional career, inspiring one to begin a club that has engaged engineering students in policy making, influencing one to recognize the opportunity to challenge his leadership potential through pursuing a MBA degree, and challenging one to become an entrepreneur to build human resources for engineers in a different city. It was undeniable that leadership education had nurtured four individuals to become leaders of change.
The event provided both a setting for sharing and personal learning. A memorable part of this event was the facilitated learning session, which created an opportunity for alumni to partner with new graduates and discuss questions together on their respective leadership journeys. After each question period, time was given for a short reflection, in which seasoned and new alumni were able to realize the effects of leadership on their lives. I felt that it was a valuable experience to connect with alumni, to learn from their wisdom, and to gain feedback on my journey thus far. In turn, it was also a valuable experience for alumni to recognize how their support and contribution has built a leadership program that serves rising leaders.
Through this event, I was able to witness how leadership has impacted alumni to create positive change and to make decisions based on their leadership values. Through conversation with the alumni, I could feel the effects this impact has made on their journey through graduate school, through their professional careers and through other areas of their lives. I could understand why leadership education was important to them, and why they were supporters of it at the University.
As a member of the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Cross-Faculty group (a cohort of undergraduate students across the different departments and divisions engaged in leadership education) and a participant of the Organizational Leadership Certificate Program also offered by LOT, I have been fortunate to be exposed to numerous opportunities that enhance my leadership development. My participation at this Spring Reunion event has allowed me to feel encouraged by the overwhelming support that alumni and new graduates have for engineering leadership education. I also feel encouraged by the connection that I have with alumni who have been part of the Faculty’s ten year journey in leadership development. The ten years has defined hope and revitalization to engineering education and I also look forward to joining this group of people in providing the same support to students and new graduates in the future.