One of the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been engaging and cultivating the D'Amore-McKim community – including alumni, parents, donors, friends, and corporate partners – due to the inability to meet face-to-face. With some trepidation and uncertainty, we pivoted quickly to digital events in the spring of 2020. For instance, we organized the D'Amore-McKim COVID-19 Resilience Talk Series, which consisted of 13 virtual events featuring alumni and friends as speakers on relevant topics of interest. It generated immense insights that brought value to the entire community, and by all accounts, they made an impact.  

The success of the Resilience Talk Series and other virtual events opened our eyes to an incredible opportunity. One of the greatest perks of my job is that I meet amazing people from all walks of life every day who tell me about their stories, successes, and failures. We decided to capture these casual conversations digitally with select leaders for a new Lessons in Leadership series. The first four conversations with Alec Burger, Janet Bullard, Ed Hajim, and Vivek Sharma have already resulted in priceless content that our students, faculty, staff, and the broader community can utilize.

During the first four conversations, I've noticed five common and impactful “lessons” among them:

  • Be people-centric. Always bet on people, do right by them, and results will follow. Never buy into the myth of the lone genius; it's always about harnessing people's collective power to fulfill the collective good.
  • Build empathy into your core being. The pandemic has shown that our personal and work selves are highly intertwined. Different people experience the world differently. Empathy is essential to validate our sense of self, especially in these times of great uncertainty. Let's play our part in being kind to each other as we restore to normalcy.
  • Care for the community. Successis not always about the bottom line. Doing good is good business. Care for the employees, customers, investors, and the broader community.
  • Strive for balance. It's not just work-life balance; recognize the need for balance between self, family, work, and community. Focusing too much on one can cause an imbalance. The balance may feel like walking a tightrope sometimes, but it requires constant attention and care.
  • Successes and learning experiences. There are only two things in life: success and a learning experience.Let's inculcate this mindset so that we can experiment without being paralyzed by fear of failure.

I've genuinely enjoyed the insights and deep connection I've gained from these virtual interviews, so we intend to add more leaders to the conversation series regularly – even after I'm able to meet with the community face-to-face again. It has been one of those lasting innovations that resulted from necessity, and it has now changed the way we view engagement for years to come.

Raj Echambadi
Dunton Family Dean
D'Amore-McKim School of Business