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Daniels Leads - Student-led speaker event sparks leadership development among participants

Leaders from select student organizations across the Daniels School of Business attended Daniels Leads, a premier executive speaker event presented annually by student-run Larsen Leaders Academy and Women in Business club members. The event seeks to equip passionate student leaders with exposure to industry-savvy professionals on the topic of leadership.

Daniels Leads hosted prestigious Purdue alums to provide insights on leadership in a TED-talk format. This year’s iteration of Daniels Leads included three featured speakers: Mitch Daniels, former president of Purdue University and namesake of the Daniels School of Business; Mark Ferrara, executive coach at the Walt Disney Company; and Jennifer Kerr, president of Cook Research Incorporated, Cook Medical.

“Surround yourself with individuals who are motivating, uplifting, see the potential and don’t take themselves too seriously!”
— Jennifer Kerr, President, Cook Research Incorporated, Cook Medical

For Ferrara, Executive-in-Residence for the Daniels School, leadership begins with knowing your personal values and principles. In his talk, Ferrara advised students to approach their careers “like a sailboat, not a powerboat. Figuring out where you want to go takes planning, effort and ingenuity. If you fight the wind, you won’t move. You should interview the organization as much as they interview you, so you find a workplace that aligns with your values and principles.”

The event began with a mocktail hour, allowing student leaders to connect with peers, featured speakers, and guests. A moderated panel-style Q&A followed the keynote addresses, where students in attendance asked the speakers various questions on personal and professional leadership.

“It’s important that you find your tribe,” Kerr said. She stressed the importance of personal leadership and gaining meaningful experience. “Surround yourself with individuals who are motivating, uplifting, see the potential and don’t take themselves too seriously!”

Daniels, the event’s namesake, was eager to return to campus to share insights with the next generation of innovative Boilermakers.

“I automatically say ‘yes’ when a phone call comes in from a Purdue number, and I quickly agreed to participate in this event,” Daniels said. “I’m very excited about the new investments and features we’re making in the business school, and those aspects differentiate us from other schools around the nation.”

As the event ended, students were already raving about the quality and practicality of the advice they received. Such was the case for attendee Yi Ching Thye, a senior marketing student with a concentration in data analytics.

“Hearing from three amazing industry leaders helps me learn how to become a better leader as I prepare for the future,” she said. “I learned that after I find my strengths and capabilities, I should prioritize what impact I can have on others. As leaders, it’s not about the great things we can create, but how can we help and uplift others.”

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