Wharton Leadership Lectures

One of the many cool events Wharton has to offer is the Wharton Leadership Lecture series.

Every week, the series features a different guest speaker (usually a CEO, president, or other high-profile professional) and exposes students to a variety of industries. Previous speakers have included tennis superstar Andre Agassi, President of Mexico Vicente Fox, and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi.

The series provides students with an opportunity to interact with these speakers in a dynamic way and learn more about current leadership issues relevant to the business world. Occasionally, students can enter raffles to participate in a private networking reception with the speaker after the lecture.

The first Leadership Lecture I ever attended was in the fall semester of my freshman year, which featured screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan. This is one of the most memorable lectures for me not only because it was my first one, but also because I had the privilege of covering him for The Daily Pennsylvanian. Although I wasn’t too familiar with his work at the time, I mentioned him to a few of my friends. Their ears perked up immediately, so I decided to check it out.

When I entered Huntsman’s G06 auditorium, the first thing that surprised me was the sheer number of students – both undergraduates and graduates – already settled in the room. There were even some people from the local Philadelphia community. I got to the auditorium fairly early, but the room was already packed to capacity.

Listening to Shyamalan share his professional experiences was great, but the most interesting part of the lecture was when he shared some of his personal stories and offered advice to the audience. The Q&A portion at the end of the lecture was also entertaining and revealed Shyamalan’s humorous side, which I would never have expected. These anecdotes and their inherent life lessons were valuable and something that I could not have gleaned just by reading a biography or other book. I found this to be the case in other Leadership Lectures I have attended so far.

On a sillier note, I’ve noticed that these Leadership Lectures tend to make great Facebook status updates as well; the most common one I’ve seen is “I am sitting ten feet away from [insert first and last name] right now!”

The Wharton Leadership Lecture series is just another reminder of the myriad opportunities available to students at Wharton and Penn. It enables students to get “up close and personal” with executives and celebrities from a wide range of fields on a consistent basis. If you are fortunate enough to attend Wharton, this is something definitely worth going to at least once.

See you at the next lecture!