GTLC highlights leadership rooted in service

In order to further connect Tech students to the business and career world, professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) and leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) hosted the 26th annual Georgia Tech Leadership Conference (GTLC) on Mar. 29 at the Klaus Advanced Computing Building.

Each year, the conference focuses on leadership within and outside of Tech. Led by keynote speakers Frank McCloskey of Georgia Power and Bill Bolling of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, this year’s GTLC focused on servant leadership.

“I think it’s our goal to give people an opportunity to learn about a specific leadership topic… A bunch of Georgia Tech students [are] involved [and] we want to give them the resources to interact with other students,” said Katie Dieterman, president of ODK and fifth-year Psychology and Management major.

In particular, servant leadership is the connection between leading in business or in organizations and serving the greater community. Also, the theme explores diversity within leadership skills and its importance.

“To quote Frank McCloskey, ‘Servant leadership is a philosophy, not a style, and it’s building a trust with colleagues and peers,’” said Dustin Hipp, workshop chair and fourth-year Biochemistry major.

The GTLC was organized and executed as a joint project by ODK and AKPsi. The two organizations formed a committee to organize the event. The committee included chairs for keynote speakers, sponsors, workshops and other aspects of the GTLC.

This year’s GTLC drew 130 registered participants from a variety of majors across campus. The conference was open to all Tech graduate and undergraduate students for a registration fee of $10.

Together, keynote speakers McCloskey and Bolling introduced and described a servant leadership community, achievable by combining businesses closely with community service and philanthropy. In addition to those aspects of servant leadership both speakers emphasized the importance of all aspects of diversity in leadership.

“I think in general Tech students don’t realize the opportunity they have…the conference is something that may not be a requirement for school in general [but] is beneficial for everyone…and it’s a very different experience from classroom learning,” said Christine Dreas, workshop chair and fourth-year Aerospace Engineering major.

While the conference did include speeches from the keynote speakers, the GTLC also included a variety of workshops led by businesses, consulting firms, Tech alumni and faculty.

“The workshops are supplemental programs to the main theme of the conference, and they gear toward learning practical skills. You know the big keynote speakers address servant leadership themes, so in particular appreciating diversity,” Hipp said.

“There was a great presentation about how, to be a good leader, you have to be a good communicator,” said Thomas Anton, third-year Industrial Engineering major.

The workshops discussed a wide range of topics, such as “Ten Things Every Leader Should Know and Practice” from Tech alumnus Miller Templeton, “Why YOU Should Care about Leadership Development” from Deloitte Consulting LLP and “The Servant Leadership Community” from Reverend Steve Baker.

“I think it just really gives insight to what may be obvious and it really helps build your network. I just met up with Deloitte. I think it helps networking and leadership skills,” said Julia Zasyatkina, a second-year Management major.

In addition to the workshops and speakers, the GTLC committee itself has dedicated itself to the idea of servant leadership by incorporating it with their event.

“I think the thing that is very special that we’ve done this year is our final keynote speaker Bill Bolling from the Atlanta Community Food Bank. [To] show our support for not only him, but [also] the Atlanta Community Food Bank, [we] asked people to [donate canned foods,]” Dieterman said.

The GTLC provides experience and skills not only applicable after graduation, but also while in school as well, through its ability to connect Tech, the business world and the community.

“I think it’s like learning blind spots in leadership and things I never thought about…I learned a lot about things you can apply to an organization,” said James Lee, fourth-year Biology major.

“I’ve been the past three years before this year… and I feel that the greatest thing [GTLC] has given to me is the opportunity to interact with other students and hone my leadership skills,” Dieterman said.