The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Cecelia Shao '16

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This series introduces the 2015-2016 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

Beyond having the opportunity to meet incredible students from all parts of campus, being a part of RLF will allow me to see how other people have approached leadership throughout their time at Dartmouth and to learn from their experiences. Furthermore, from speaking with last year’s fellows, I know that RLF brings in amazing speakers and fellows often engage in very interesting exercises. The content of each RLF session will help me hone many of the skills I have begun to develop, including problem-solving, active listening, and collaboration.

Throughout my time at Dartmouth, Rocky has consistently organized great events term after term, so I trust Rocky to provide a great experience that I get to take part in, but also craft for future fellows coming through the program. This last portion is very important to me as well because that level of student input and control over the nature of the RLF program signals exactly how fitting the content will be for incoming students. On a more personal level, after being off campus so much, I have finally realized the importance of taking the time to disengage from the normal craziness of life and to think about and discuss what happened during the week/term. Moving forward, I hope to continue to learn how to learn more efficiently and effectively. RLF will provide the perfect forum for this kind of intentional self-reflection.

Leading up to college and for all of freshman year, I was a firm believer of outspoken and ‘aggressive’ leadership. I would delegate tasks without getting input first and believed that I could always get people on board with my idea if I debated with them enough. This kind of leadership worked very well until I started encountering more and more people that had the same mentality and the stakes for the outcomes became higher (so arguing constantly didn’t work). Through a significant amount of learning and observing, I am now learning to practice a more open form of leadership that emphasizes constant, open communication and logical reasoning (even if that means forfeiting have my idea at the forefront). My fascination with these different (and sometimes polar) kinds of leadership comes from my experience both on and off campus in any situation where I’m working underneath someone or directly managing someone. In fact, it really wasn’t until I was doing the latter that I realized how difficult “being a leader” was. Especially in the workplace, how capable you are as a leader often (always) has real consequences—whether that means how cohesive your team can be or whether you can raise support or funding for a project. With RLF, I will love to learn when each type of leadership is appropriate and most useful, how to work under different types of leadership, and how to lead even when you’re not in an explicit leadership role.

Cecelia (Cece) Shao ’16 is a native New Yorker and graduated from Stuyvesant High School as a National AP Scholar. At Dartmouth, Cece is studying Systems Analysis, an interdisciplinary major which integrates Economics, Geography, and Engineering. On campus, she pursues her passion for business, design, and storytelling through her involvement with This Dartmouth Life, TheBOX Food Truck, the Political Economy Project, and Dartmouth Consulting Group. Cece has worked at three enterprise software startups in the Bay Area in a variety of roles, ranging from product management to data aggregation, and will be moving onto her fourth, a bitcoin exchange, for junior summer. Following graduation, Cece hopes to continue working in the startup space in a business development and operations role with an eye towards venture capital in the future.

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