Conference develops next generation of leaders
By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
“Here’s the problem,” said freshman entrepreneurial studies major Carson Foley, one of the Grand Canyon University Honors College students in Carole Redden’s “Innovative Thinking” breakout session. “You have an 8:25 class. You get up. It’s 8:10. You think, ‘I need to shower. … I need coffee.’ What if we took these two things and combined them? Split the water; half it, right?
“You’re already using scalding water. … You get the best part of your morning together.”
“When we’re innovating, we don’t need to pass judgment,” said Redden with a smile during the activity, a fast-paced session that sparked ideas and a lot of laughter.
It was the next-big-thing innovative idea — maybe – his team came up with at the 45-minute workshop, just one of three Saturday afternoon breakout sessions offered at the three-day Honors College’s Next Generation Leadership Conference.
About 200 college and select high school honors students RSVP’d for the event, designed to do exactly what its title says: help develop the next generation of leaders.
Redden, principal consultant at Advanced Training & Development Solutions, explained the five stages of the design thinking process and how applying creative thinking advances innovation.
Then she challenged attendees to combine products they use every day to come up with something new.
Some suggestions: a toothbrush that dispenses toothpaste, waterproof headphones so you can listen to music while you’re swimming, or the “Rush Brush,” a brush that also dries your hair.
“Don’t most of us need that!” Redden said of the Rush Brush.
Students also dropped into the “Emotional Intelligence” breakout session led by Dr. Mallary Tytel, President and Founder of Healthy Workplaces, and “Would You Rather: Leading or Managing,” by Nancy Boyer, a facilitator/speaker from Erickson Coaching International.
This was the third year for the Honors College conference, and it was the biggest one yet. Attendance more than quadrupled compared to last year.
“Leadership is one of our five pillars within the Honors College,” said the college’s associate dean, Breanna Naegeli.
Program manager Cathleen Daly said GCU has a passion for leadership, and the college is dedicated to carrying out that principal.
“We really wanted to bring that in a very unique way to Honors students, and that’s through planning this three-day conference,” she said.
Throughout the year, program manager Dennis Williams said the college emphasizes leadership through programs such as the PAC Professional Development Program and peer mentoring for first-year students, to name a couple.
But with this big spring event, “It’s an opportunity for us to bring in other industry leaders and for them to pour into these students over three days. … It builds a bigger picture of why they’re here,” Williams said.
Daly added how important it was for the conference to spotlight strong, local industry leaders, such as Friday’s keynote speaker, John Hamby, Regional Director at Oyo Hotels and former manager at Uber, and speaker Travis Hardin, Vice President at Wells Fargo and city of Phoenix Workforce Connection Board Chair.
Saturday’s keynote address was from Brian North, founder and CEO of North&Co, a residential real estate firm. He said mobile devices connect us to the world, “but there’s no substitution for the human connection, and that if we could combine those two — this tool that allows us to get to people really fast (your cell phone) with the emotional awareness to be able to connect with people on a human level — we can really make a big change in the world.”
North said it’s important to him to help the young generation of leaders as much as he can.
“There’s a lot of emotion involved in the win-fail process of entrepreneurship. I’ve realized in young people there’s a lot of fear and a lack of wisdom for them to latch onto to be able to help them through those trying times. I’ve self-audited so diligently that it’s allowed me a little bit of wisdom to help these young people not make the same mistakes that I made.”
In addition to Saturday’s breakout sessions, including afternoon topics that included “7 Habits of Successful Leaders,” the “DISC Personality Assessment” and “Civil Discourse: Conflict Resolution Strategies,” and “Leadership from the Military Perspective,” students participated in a networking event and listened to leaders at a young professionals panel.
The conference wrapped up on Sunday with a leadership retreat to South Mountain facilitated by One Day Adventures.
“It’s an obstacle course at South Mountain with rope courses and rappelling. It will be a fun time,” said Daly. “But we also hope they take the team-building and leadership skills they learned here and use it on the course.”
Taylin Curry, a GCU freshman biology major with an emphasis in premed, said her favorite activity so far on Saturday was the session on emotional intelligence, which taught students strategies to help them respond more skillfully and professionally under pressure.
“There were a lot of really good topics,” she said of the conference, though what she enjoyed the most was “meeting people.”
Savannah Moffitt, a freshman mechanical engineering major, hasn’t attended as many of the Honors College events as she has wanted to but was keen on this conference to better her leadership skills.
“I’ve loved the entire experience,” she said. “It’s been interesting to learn from people who ARE leaders on how to be a good leader.”
Honors College student Elisha Fronda, a senior business major who also is the Vice President of the Honors Student Advisory Board, helped promote the event by boosting social media and marketing.
“It’s been super cool just to witness it, honestly (to witness the conference come together),” said Fronda. “There’s a lot of people that put in a lot more hardcore work than me. But just getting to meet these people and seeing the impact that it has on … the younger kids, especially. A lot of them are very excited to be at the Honors College. They have ambitious goals, so getting to see those goals match up with the support they’re getting has been awesome.”
Naegeli said that what she hoped students took away with them is that leadership isn’t just being the president of a company.
“You can be a leader without having that title. … Leadership has many different shapes and forms,” she said, and asked, “How can you lead with your role in any given situation?”
Contact GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.
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