“Leadership is a matter how to be, not how to do it”, says a hundred-and three-year-old inspiring leader, Frances Hesselbein, the President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. Frances who rose from volunteer troop leader to CEO of the girls Scouts of the USA, is one of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership development. Having received 20 honorary doctoral degrees, Hesselbein was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America’s highest civilian honor, in 1998 for her role as a pioneer for women, diversity, and inclusion. Frances is one of the founders of Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, through which she inspires student leaders from all the over the world through an annual summit to take on opportunities of unearthing the intricacies of leadership from her life experiences of serving as a leader.
Out of 500 applicants, I was grateful to have been selected to attend this summit which brought together 42 of the most impressive students coming from Peru, South Africa, Chile, Vietnam, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and many other countries.
During this five-day immersive Summit, we were mentored by incredible leaders from Pittsburgh and also leaders from other parts of the country who gave up their valuable time to come to the University of Pittsburgh to mentor the 42 of us Hesselbein Fellows. We learnt topics involving the intricacies of leadership such as multiple leadership styles, the importance of mentorship, understanding and exploring our own/other identities, leading with ethics and integrity, defining our own leadership style and what it truly means to be a servant leader. Being surrounded by truly impressive, motivated students and incredible mentors blew me away.
Besides, we also undertook service projects in collaboration with Rise Against Hunger and packaged over 10,000 meal packets to aid in combating against world hunger across the globe which is on board with the Goal No. 2 (Zero Hunger) of the Sustainable Developmental Goals of the United Nations. We were also brought to homes of Pittsburgh-area leaders for a dinner dialogue on circumstances and decisions surrounding their leadership paths. The leaders include members of the Board of Trustees, Senior Vice Chancellors, Directors and Associate Deans of different Departments at the University of Pittsburgh. My team also engaged in community projects with the Magee Women’s Research Institute & Foundation (MWRI), a leading scientific institute focusing on women’s and infants’ health. From the presentations, I was able to put my skills to the test as I worked with the team, of the institute with insights to help further their outreach to the current generation. Interacting with different people from myriad cultures and locations gave me the opportunity to learn the importance of diversity and inclusion. The learning inculcated from my psychology programme at the International Medical University, Malaysia was also used at large in the many activities I engaged in during the summit. I have gained lifelong friends, precious memories, and new tools to use as a young professional and undergraduate student. One of the highlights of the summit was a video chat with the woman who started it all, Frances Hesselbein, one of the greatest leaders of our time.
At its graceful closure, I felt truly honored to be representing International Medical University and Malaysia at the summit, as I graduated as a fellow of the Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement 2019. I left the summit with a richer understanding of my leadership style, attaining global competence and ready to take on the opportunities ahead of me towards achieving a positive change as an innovative global leader.
To Serve is to Live.
Written by IMU Psychology Student, Amutha Aruvi Kaniamuthan.