New American Scholars


A Transformational Journey: My Summer at Wharton's Leadership in the Business World Program

Written by: Riyah Patel

I have always believed that good leadership extends far beyond managing people or generating profit. It's about embodying the change you wish to see in the world. This summer, I was fortunate enough to attend Wharton's "Leadership in the Business World" (LBW) program, an experience that not only enriched my understanding of business but also gave me invaluable tools to be a leader in every aspect of life.

An Introduction to Excellence

When I first received the acceptance letter to LBW, I was ecstatic. This prestigious program is a haven for rising high school seniors like me who are eager to dive into the world of business. Since 1999, students from six continents and almost every state have converged at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to partake in this transformational experience. From organizational strategy to customer-centric business models, the program offered a comprehensive look at the ever-evolving landscape of business leadership.

A Holistic Approach to Leadership

What set LBW apart was its focus on developing the leader as a whole person. Instead of zeroing in solely on performance metrics and bottom lines, the program introduced us to the concept of Total Leadership. This involves cultivating one’s capacity as a leader in all domains of life, be it work, home, community, or personal well-being. The fundamental idea is that these often conflicting domains can actually become allies in achieving meaningful results.

Learning by Doing

One of the standout features was the hands-on, interactive learning environment. Each day was an intense blend of lectures, peer coaching, readings, class dialogues, and even interactions with Wharton alumni. The professors were not just educators; they were industry leaders who brought decades of experience into the classroom. Engaging in dialogues with these intellectual giants was truly an honor. They inspired us to challenge our preconceived notions, to aim higher, and to strive for excellence, not just in business but also in life.

A Strong Emphasis on Social Responsibility

During the program, I had the distinct honor of listening to a talk by the Dean of the Wharton School, Erika James. Trained as an organizational psychologist, Dean James is a leading expert on crisis leadership, workplace diversity, and management strategy. As both the first woman and the first Black person to lead the business school, her message about social entrepreneurship and social responsibility deeply resonated with me. It reaffirmed my belief that business can be a force for good, and leaders have a responsibility to drive social change.

Beyond the Classroom: Building a Global Network

The connections I made during LBW were priceless. I had the opportunity to engage with a diverse cohort of like-minded, ambitious young people from across the globe. I am confident that these relationships will continue to flourish long after the program and will provide a supportive network as we all venture into our respective careers.

The Takeaway

The Wharton LBW program went beyond conventional business education; it pushed us to grow in every facet of our lives. From effective teamwork to leveraging digital tools for smarter decision-making, the skill set I acquired here will undoubtedly serve as a robust foundation for my future endeavors. This program reminded me that leadership isn’t just about work; it’s about life. It's about taking charge, not just in boardrooms, but in our communities and homes. It's about shaping the world around us for the better.

For those looking to not only learn about business but to also become holistic leaders, I cannot recommend Wharton’s LBW program enough. It was truly a life-changing experience. The journey may have been intense, but the learnings were profound and the friendships everlasting. As I forge ahead in my mission to reshape the educational landscape, the principles and skills I acquired at LBW will undoubtedly be an integral part of my toolkit.

Here's to being leaders, in every sense of the word!