A unique celebration of leadership: Donaldson Fellows

February 18, 2013

photo credit: Anthony Clark photo credit: Anthony Clark

On Friday, February 8 the Class of 2014 met at the New Haven Lawn Club to meet the third class of Donaldson Fellows: Donald Gips, Nadim Matta, Leon Meng, and Christine Bader. The Donaldson Fellows program began in 2009 and seeks to recognize graduates of the Yale School of Management who embody the school’s mission: “to educate leaders of business and society.” With Nemo barreling down on New Haven, Dean Snyder kicked off the morning with an introduction of the fellows and an invitation for each of the fellows to share their leadership philosophy.

Build a life. Commit acts of leadership. Neutrality is a fallacy.

We then divided up into separate classrooms back on campus to have a more intimate discussion with each of the four fellows. I followed Christine Bader into a room with about 60 of my classmates who peppered her with questions. She spoke about her new book, which focuses on the "big" question of our time: how do we make big business work in the best interest of our society?

As she was speaking, I began to bridge the gap between Christine's thought process, and how I think about my own professional pursuits. Am I the person that can get the most done surrounded by SOM-like people? The ones that understand the alignment between social and business imperatives? Or am I going into a community that only looks at the social imperatives? Or just business imperatives? If either of the later are true, how do I find a way to work within the culture I find myself in? Regardless of what I believe for myself, we need both types of people: those that are willing to roll up their sleeves and step into the companies that don't jive with their culture, and the leaders that refuse to work for those same companies. Gratefully, I find myself surrounded by both types of people here at Yale and I admire their steadfast commitment to SOM's mission, regardless of the path they chose to take.

I found myself trudging home through the snow, hood pulled down to keep the snowflakes from dampening my smile. Inspiration can come from many places, but it is a wonderful confirmation of my decision to come to Yale when I find inspiration in the dreams and pursuits of the SOM alumni that made their way through these same snow storms before me.

Christine Bader in conversation with Professor Heidi Brooks (photo credit: Anthony Clark) Christine Bader in conversation with Professor Heidi Brooks (photo credit: Anthony Clark)

Nadim Matta ’89 (photo credit: Anthony Clark) Nadim Matta ’89 (photo credit: Anthony Clark)

Don Gips (photo credit: Anthony Clark) Don Gips (photo credit: Anthony Clark)

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Heather West

2014, MBA/FES