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First Year Perspectives: Building Foundations in Leadership

About Emily: Emily Penaranda grew up in Oakland, California, and graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Biological Sciences. After graduating, she worked abroad for international field schools in Turks and Caicos and Bocas del Toro, Panama. While living abroad, Emily’s interest in sustainable food grew and she sought to work for a CPG company to drive impact. Emily has worked in project and product manager roles at Clif Bar, TurtleTree, and Beyond Meat. Business school is an opportunity for Emily to understand how to grow and scale organizations and to further build out her problem-solving toolkit. In her free time, Emily enjoys creating neighborhood food tours, traveling, and swimming.

Anderson’s mission is to develop forward thinkers who are innovative problem solvers that can inspire positive change. As Dean Fraser shared during orientation, Anderson supports and accelerates our journey to be transformative leaders. Even after just two quarters, I have experienced this exponential growth as I re-engage in the classroom and think intentionally and critically about the leader I want to become. Anderson provides many self-reflection opportunities and endless opportunities to practice, grow, and morph one’s leadership abilities.

Foundations in Leadership (FIL): FIL is the first course taken at Anderson in the Summer Quarter and is an introduction to leadership principles in individual, group, and organizational behavior, providing an initial forum to begin analyzing leadership goals. FIL focuses on applying theoretical frameworks to one’s leadership strengths and limitations and helps set up a plan for growth. I really enjoyed this course because it gave me an opportunity to connect with my diverse group of peers and see how we could collaborate and grow over our time together. It was fun to get a snapshot of how people demonstrate their leadership styles and then see how those styles develop and evolve in group projects. Part of this class is setting goals on how to become a more inclusive and collaborative leader (one part of Anderson’s Transformative Leader flywheel) in the summer and then creating an action plan to achieve those goals in the fall. For me, I sought to work on diverse teams, exposing myself to other cultures and traditions to build a more informed global lens. Anderson provides the resources and the space to be self-reflective and grow.

Leadership Coaching: Leadership @ Anderson is a wonderful program in which we meet monthly with a leadership coach and dig into how we want to grow as leaders. Before beginning coaching, we participate in several activities and take an assessment called the Workplace Big Five, which helps inform how we tend to present in the workplace. These activities provide a foundation before beginning coaching where we are in the driver’s seat of our own growth! Coaching topics can include identifying an opportunity area and creating an action plan to practice these skills, discussing what’s working well on the learning team and what could be changed, learning how to give and receive constructive feedback, and increasing the ability to influence upward. It is so important to be self-reflective and honest about the areas of growth and how to achieve them for coaching to be successful. For example, to ensure that I remained anchored to my purpose of driving impact and working for mission-driven organizations, I strategized with my coach to identify ways to stay connected and identified the leadership roles I wanted to pursue. 

Leadership in Clubs: Anderson’s clubs are student-run, lending to multiple opportunities to get involved and strengthen leadership skills through contributing to clubs whose missions align with one’s interests. Anderson’s clubs range from professional (like the Management Consulting Association and Marketing Association) to identity (Alliance for Latinx at Anderson and Out @ Anderson) to interests (like Wine Club and Eats…so many restaurants to explore in LA). A part of the Anderson leadership journey is identifying which clubs to participate in, the skills one hopes to build, and how to contribute. I was very motivated to join the Anderson Ambassador Corps after so many positive touch points including a class visit, Embracing Diversity Week, and A-Days, and I hope to translate Anderson’s values and offerings to prospective students! I also wanted to grow my storytelling skills and help the marketing team through the social media management experience that I gained while running a food blog with my friend.

Overall, there are so many opportunities to get involved and shape the leader you hope to become!

Student Blogger: Emily Penaranda ‘25

Undergrad: UC Davis – B.S. Biological Sciences

Pre-MBA: Project Manager, Beyond Meat

Leadership@Anderson: First-Year Director, Admission Ambassador Corps; Director of Events, Food and Agriculture Business Association; Riordan Mentor; Undergraduate Mentor

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