Speaking from Experience

Leadership Development Expedition Course Featured in Carey Business Magazine Article

From Classroom to Field

Branden Anderson, Flexible MBA ’19, was looking for his next career move as he neared the end of his degree program. He was in the middle of the interview process for a senior human resources business partner position while kayaking through Belize’s waterways in the Leadership Development Expedition course.

In this popular course, students put their leadership skills to work when forced into challenging outdoor environments and out of their comfort zones.

Anderson’s cohort kayaked through Belize for nine days, with the students alternating responsibilities for navigation, cooking, and setting up camp.

Anderson, who served in the Army for over 20 years, says he was ready physically for the challenge but wasn’t expecting to come away with an entirely new set of “soft” skills.

“I was able to translate the experience and show that I gained leadership skills, feedback, awareness, empathy, and compassion – all of the soft skills that are actually really hard,” he says. “Most people don’t take opportunities to develop these skills. But it’s like exercise, and we can’t say we did it once and are good for the year. You have to do it extensively, or those muscles go to waste.”

He credits honing these soft skills on the Leadership Development Expedition as one of the final factors that helped him land his new position.

“You really learn about your resiliency,” he says. “Every Leadership Development Expedition has its own curveball. Half of our people got sick after drinking bad water. Others who hadn’t stepped into a leadership role yet really had to step up. That level of vulnerability when you’re already psychologically and physically vulnerable is a real test of your resiliency. I was able to take that experience and translate it into a business setting during my job interviews.”

The course was so influential for so many students that a group of Carey alumni started a Leadership Development Expedition alumni Facebook group. The Facebook group evolved into a weekend camping excursion in the Shenandoah Mountains in 2019, completely organized by the alumni, including Anderson.

The trip featured the typical outdoor accoutrements and activities of an alumni reunion. But this trip stood out as more than just an opportunity to reminisce. The alumni invited Doyle, the director of experiential learning, to incorporate curricular components into the weekend. The group reviewed a business leadership article in advance of the trip and then discussed the article and their personal leadership challenges and successes during an evening campfire.

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