Leadership @ Booth: A Student Journey


In a recent Leadership@Booth event, students learned about resources available to them, including the Leadership Development resources available at Booth and the Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership.

In this post, we’ll hear from Evening MBA student Blakely Winstead about her leadership journey and learn about the Harry L. Davis Leadership Center. Our second leadership post can be accessed here.


Evening MBA student Blakely WinsteadBlakely Winstead, Analytical Lead, Microsoft

What Leadership resources have you leveraged at Booth?

I knew early on that I wanted to use my time at Booth to strengthen my leadership skills. Microsoft is a large company full of intelligent, driven people and there is a lot of competition for leadership positions. Booth has provided a low-risk environment for me to grow these leadership skills while I continue to simultaneously pursue leadership activities at Microsoft. I’ve been a LAUNCH (the orientation program for the part-time program) mentor and the LAUNCH Mentor Coordinator. As Coordinator, I partner with the Leadership Development and Student Life teams to select and prepare the mentors for LAUNCH. I’m also on the Admissions committee and have TA’d for both Negotiations and Leadership Capital.


Can you talk about one leadership resource or activity that made the most impact in your leadership development?

One leadership element that I wanted to strengthen was community-building. Becoming the LAUNCH Mentor Coordinator helped me practice this, and I feel that I have thoroughly improved this skill over the past year. Community-building is especially important at LAUNCH; the three-day experience really sets the stage for incoming students’ Booth experience. It’s a great opportunity for students and mentors to get to know other Boothies – there’s so much energy from the incoming students and it’s exciting to be there. It’s like being a freshman in undergrad all over again.


Can you share your top tips for students who are looking to build their leadership skills while at Booth?

Get involved early, right off the bat! At the beginning of my time at Booth, I showed up to as many events as I could (even if it was outside of my comfort zone) and tried to meet as many people as possible. It’s like saving for retirement: the more you put in your retirement account earlier, the better. The first couple of quarters at Booth are busy and overwhelming but building relationships during that time is crucial.

Many students are afraid of approaching professors and asking if they can TA for them, but they shouldn’t be! Being a TA is a great leadership experience - it taught me how to have difficult conversations and manage my time more effectively. TAing also helped me better understand the subject matter and I got to know two of our amazing professors (thank you Professors Alex Imas and Linda Ginzel!).


The Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership

The Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership supports programs for students and alumni. Its programs are grounded in the idea that leaders need more than knowledge—they need action skills to achieve their goals and insight skills to learn from their successes and failures. The center uses what we call the Action & Insight Framework: leaders take responsibility for their own professional development by working within the feedback loop of taking action and gaining insight for the duration of their career. With that in mind, the center hosts a variety of events that are designed to help you learn something new about yourself. These include quarterly lectures from University faculty, theatre nights, artistic workshops, and other experiential programs. Many programs are also available to alumni, including peer groups, online learning, and grants towards passion projects.


Special thanks to Meenakshi Lakshmanan, Evening MBA Student and a member of the Student Advisory Council, for organizing and moderating this panel.

Libby Smoler is a marketing specialist for the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.