Exactly three years ago, I was sitting in my office in London frantically waiting to hear from HR on my performance reviews. After a few nervous hours fidgeting with my computer to prepare some slides for a client meeting, I got a joyous phone call with the news of a promotion. While the news made me jump for joy, what came after completely changed the course of my life. HR asked me, “So Adi, what kind of a leader do you aspire to be?” I was stunned silent. That day marked the beginning of my quest, probably a lifelong quest, to understand my aspirations of leadership, and to develop my leadership philosophy. In that pursuit, I decided to get my MBA.

The variety of leadership opportunities that Fuqua provides to its students really stood out for me, and after a few chats with students, I was confident that Fuqua would provide me with the right platform to rediscover myself and develop as a leader. Within a couple of weeks of starting school, I learned that in order to truly discover my leadership philosophy, I had to step out of my comfort zone and start practicing, and that’s what I did.

Serving My Peers

From my role as a section representative in my first year to being the co-president of the MBA Association (MBAA), I had tremendous learnings. The responsibilities that came with these roles taught me the true essence of leadership—the ability to inspire and empower others to reach their full potential. One of my core values throughout my journey at Fuqua was a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). I firmly believed that a diverse and inclusive community fosters creativity, innovation, and empathy. I strived to create an environment where individuals from all backgrounds felt seen, heard, and valued. The MBAA’s DEI team, along with the Gender Equity Working Group (GEWG) put together a lot of creative events and programs to make Fuqua an even more inclusive space. Through these events, I learned the importance of perseverance, courage, and empathy as a leader.

Being an international student myself, I understood firsthand the unique struggles that 47% of the international class faced. Language barriers, cultural adjustments, and navigating a new educational system presented their own set of challenges, and I made it my mission to support and uplift my fellow international classmates. MBAA’s VP of International Affairs along with the International Programs Office (IPO) developed a lot of events promoting intercultural dialogue, and fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect. I learned that embracing diversity enhances the richness of our experiences and strengthens our collective bond as a community.

Adi Samant with classmates and Fuqua staff

The True Meaning of Leadership

Throughout my leadership journey, I realized that true leadership is not about personal achievements or recognition, but about amplifying the voices of others. It is about creating an environment where every individual feels empowered to share their ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. My main goal in this journey was to ensure that every student’s voice was heard, regardless of their position or background. I encouraged open dialogue, active listening, and collaboration to foster a community where ideas were celebrated and differences were embraced.

As I conclude this chapter of my life at Fuqua, I carry with me a profound understanding of leadership’s true essence. It is about being a catalyst for positive change, a beacon of inspiration, and a servant to others. My time at Fuqua has taught me that leadership is not about personal glory, but about empowering others to succeed.

In the words of John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” Let us all strive to be leaders who ignite the spark within others, leading them to greatness and leaving a lasting impact on the world.