I generally share my weekday morning train rides to New York City with my fellow neighbors, and a few co-workers. We have our daily discussions and our early morning sleepy and disoriented brains try to solve all the world’s problems. During one of these mornings, we were discussing environmental issues. I was looking outside the window with my ears actively registering the conversation. I responded to my co-rider’s views regarding our government not being committed enough in pushing for reforms for a better environment to live in. I said, “Let us embrace a greener environment in our own individual houses, and our neighborhood, and I can guarantee that we will have a better town to live in.” I had remembered the speech from business executive John Allison, who shared his views of creating a better world to live in. At Fuqua, he spoke about how one should be responsible for creating a clean surrounding by simply throwing a soda can into a recycle bin rather than trash bin. I heard his speech, and I consciously try to apply the lessons into my daily activity.

Fuqua’s ability to attract guest speakers like John Allison, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BB&T, is a wonderful way to introduce new career choices, and at the same time, give us the opportunity to reflect on what we can become in the long run. Fuqua’s curriculum alignment between courses like Leadership, Ethics and Organizations and speakers like Mr. Allison, provide us with a chance to hear and experience more real-world success stories and see beyond perceived external limits. Seeing the direct connection between academia and successful practitioners provides motivation for students, and greatly enhances our learning.

I believe the guest speakers motivate students in the right direction by validating our thoughts, and fostering high but realistic expectations. Motivation theory defines 3 indices: choice, effort and persistence. Students choose opportunities; put an effort on activities based on what they value and work towards being successful, by being persistent. Developing and improving on analytical thinking is critical for successful leaders. Listening to these guest lecturers can help us as students to focus more on actionable learning rather than pure book based knowledge. Knowledge without action does not help in achieving one’s dreams.

Bringing in high-caliber guest speakers requires immense preparation on the part of our program administrators. As students, we must also be prepared to ask smart questions. I think there’s a correlation between administrative preparedness, students’ readiness and guest speakers’ sharing their experience, that enriches the program, and creates a path for the next generation of successful leaders.

I see a difference in me. I dream of emulating great leaders like Scott Brown, the Global VP of Distribution for Cisco. He’s also a Fuqua adjunct professor for our marketing concentration, and he spoke in our marketing class about supply chain and distribution channels and how critical it is to tie suppliers, organizations and their customers in one thread and cadence. I take this learning every day to my work and my personal life by thinking, analyzing, and making better decisions for future growth.