President Clayton Rose shared his insights on the importance of transparency, risk-taking and diligence in developing effective leadership skills to an audience of about 60 students, faculty and staff during the Business Leadership Principles event on Monday. Next semester, Rose will teach an interdisciplinary first-year seminar called, “The Moral Leader,” which will expand on the same concepts he discussed Monday.

Sponsored by the Bowdoin College Finance Society, Rose spoke about his experiences at J.P. Morgan and his academic career at the Harvard Business School, revealing his stance on “the responsibilities of leadership, managerial values, ethics and the role of business in society.”
Ellen Pham ’18, co-leader of Bowdoin Women in Business and co-vice president of the Bowdoin Finance Society, organized the event because of the significance she sees in developing leadership skills.

“I just wanted to start the dialogue about leadership in business at Bowdoin,” said Pham. “I think it is so important for Bowdoin students to be exposed to different styles of leadership because one of the mantras of Bowdoin is to train the next generations of leaders.” 
Rose spoke briefly, and then opened the floor for questions—the majority of the event was question driven discussion.

Kim Kahnweiler ’16 directed the conversation toward diversity and the value of a liberal arts education in the business world today.

Rose responded by citing the early ’90s as a time that saw a surge in the use of “diversity” as a buzzword among businesses and emphasized its continued significance in business models in 2016. Rose emphasized the value of the communication and critical thinking skills gained through a liberal arts education.

“Do not underestimate it. It is incredibly powerful,” he said.

Pham was pleased with how Rose clearly contextualized business and made the topic accessible for audience members.

“He spoke very generally, which I really appreciated, because finance can be so niche and sometimes turn people off,” said Pham. “I was glad that he was able to talk about how business can relate to a lot of different things like climate change.”

Ben Bristol ’17 asked about climate change directly as he wondered about the corporate social responsibility of businesses to mitigate environmental justice issues. 

Rose responded by referencing a Harvard Business School class he co-taught called, “Reimagining Capitalism,” which allowed the class to examine the fragility and importance of the model of the depletion of New England fisheries, a “close to home [issue] for many of us.”

Others from the audience asked for his crucial tips for up and comers in the business world. 
“You must be willing to take risks,” said Rose. “You’re going to have to get comfortable making informed decisions with incomplete information and ultimately trust your gut—develop informed intuition.”

He then emphasized the importance of staying focused and diligent to prove yourself for the next opportunity.

“Do not worry about the next job. Worry about the job you have now,” said Rose. “When people are looking at that job, they won’t do the job they’re doing well. And that’ll kill you.”

Kahnweiler reflected on the intersection of Rose’s business background and his work so far at Bowdoin. 

“It’s definitely too early to tell,” said Kahnweiler when asked if Rose’s business strategies have positively influenced his presidency. “It’s comforting to know that that’s something he takes very seriously.”

“I hope he continues to be outspoken. I hope he continues to support student that participate in all different activities across campus,” she said.