According to the dictionary, the definition of community is, “The social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.”
One of the many great aspects of the Johnson community is the ongoing involvement of esteemed alumni. We, as current students, have had the fortune of listening to prominent alumni present on a variety of topics. Last class weekend we had the privilege to hear from Michael Chen, Strategic Partner and Management Committee Advisor for Bridgewater Associates. Michael spoke about personal brand, its importance and what one should consider when projecting their brand. He had this broken down into 4 areas, or as he put it the “4 Is”: Integrity, Inclusion, Impact and Inspire.
Integrity – Do you what you say and hold yourself accountable
Inclusion – Bring people together, and make sure everyone has an opportunity to be involved
Impact – Whatever it is you do, do it with emphasis and passion, and make a difference
Inspire – Make a difference in the lives of others and inspire others to be great
The messages rang loudly among myself and many classmates. Yet the message went beyond enhancing your personal brand. For me, it spoke to the spirit of the Johnson community itself.
I have previously spoken about the uniqueness of the Johnson brand, and its attractiveness to its students. This is not a program that focuses solely on breeding the next billionaire financier, but rather a program geared toward assembling well rounded individuals who will be respected and regarded by their peers. Johnson is about developing leaders, and leaders leave a different legacy behind. These “4 Is” are also at the heart of what it takes to be a leader, and I am thankful to be a part of a community that has a sincere interest in the development of its newest leaders.
A couple of weeks ago I was speaking with someone from the talent acquisition area of a well-known tech firm, and this person specifically said that she really enjoyed working with Johnson MBAs as compared to other Ivy MBAs. In her own words, “In addition to the expected acumen, Johnson students have been more grounded, more realistic, and easier to get along with.” This may not seem like a big deal to many, but to us within the Johnson community, we should be very proud of this perception from the external world. This is considered a community of leaders.
One can obtain a quality education from a number of institutions, and many of which that hold a marquee name in the business world. Yet many of these institutions lack the community of Johnson. In the past year I have worked with a few colleagues who also obtained their MBAs from quality programs over the past few years. I’ll even dare to say they are academically comparable with Johnson. However, what struck me was that each of these individuals had nothing to comment in terms of culture, environment and community. In fact, I was met with confused expression when I asked about their program culture and any other benefits they drew from their MBA experiences. None of them seemed to take away anything more than a diploma. Though we too will walk away holding a diploma, we will also have so much more to walk back to, for many years to come.