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

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Tucker Oddleifson '16

Article Type 

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.

Leadership is one of my passions. I am particularly intrigued by the multi-dimensionality of team dynamics: understanding individual motivations, considering how individuals work with other individuals, and facilitating the network of interactions between individuals to achieve a unified goal. I believe the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows Program offers an incredible opportunity to strengthen my leadership skills by reflecting on my past experiences and working with a high performing group of fellow students who are dedicated to engaging in the learning process.

I am most curious about dynamic leadership, which I consider to be the ability for a leader to change their leadership styles based on individuals, groups, and situations. For example, as a soccer referee I learned that my effectiveness as a referee relied on having match-specific leadership tactics on the field, which were unique to each game’s individual players, coaches, team dynamics, and spontaneous factors like weather. More recently, I have practiced dynamic leadership in my roles with Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering. With the RLF program I hope to learn more about strategies to strengthen dynamic leadership. For a career, I am interested in engineering design: the process of designing engineering solutions around user-based needs, using human-centered design. Within engineering design, I am interested in how technologies can be used to directly impact individuals’ health. Through experiences like my work with DHE and with International Development Enterprises (India) to design irrigation technologies, I have become increasingly convinced of the opportunity for engineering technologies to deliver urgently-needed solutions. At this point, I am interested in joining a biomedical engineering design firm after graduation, working initially as a design engineer and eventually moving into project management and leadership.

Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) has offered me a rich leadership experience. DHE is a student-led organization that encourages sustainable, community-driven solutions to address environmental, health, and economic needs in low-income communities. For the past three years, I have been a member of DHE as a researcher, project team traveler, and leader holding several board positions. One example of leadership that stands out to me is working in Tanzania with three other Dartmouth students during the summer to design methods for alternative cooking fuel production. Due to the small team and large number of objectives, each of us had to be both leaders and followers. Ultimately, I learned the critical importance of empathy in leadership; considering the stressful environment and often high pressure situations, it was essential for us to support each other emotionally and holistically.

I believe my set of leadership experiences would allow me to effectively engage with the RLF group and facilitate conversation. Furthermore, I believe my curiosity, positivity, dedication, and empathy would contribute to a successful group dynamic for the fellows next year. I look forward to engaging with the fellows by being actively present, valuing individual thoughts, and respecting thoughtful discussion. More generally, I hope that RLF will instill practical leadership skills that I can bring back to the Dartmouth community and to communities beyond Dartmouth as well.

Tucker Oddleifson is a ’16 from Cohasset, Massachusetts studying biomedical engineering. As a researcher, travel team member, and leader for Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) and as an intern with International Development Enterprises (India), he has become passionate about designing technologies around human-centered needs. He has served in multiple leadership positions with DHE and will be serving as the organization’s president in the 2015/2016 year. He is also a member of Dartmouth EMS, and in his free time he enjoys running, biking, and spending time outdoors. After graduation, Tucker plans to pursue engineering design in the biomedical engineering field.

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