The Ties that Bind

One of my favorite places in Iowa City, the Ped Mall, has an exquisite sculpture by Jane DeDecker entitled The Ties That Bind (see photo). To me, this beautiful carving symbolizes that the father must build a strong foundation for his son and prepare him so that he does not fall down. He is teaching his son the importance of standing on his own feet.

Passing every day by that sculpture, I couldn’t help but relate it to what my experience at Tippie has been. During our IMPACT week, Jay Sa-Aadu, our Associate Dean, had said that an MBA from Tippie would give us the LEGS that would prepare us for life in the business world: Leadership, Experiential Learning, Global Learning and Social Responsibility.

Over the past two months, we have had a plethora of activities that have helped us take baby steps on our path to become future leaders, that have laid the basis of the strong foundation that we require, and that have given us a chance to enjoy some unique experiences that we will always remember:

  • the leadership lectures by eminent personalities including Jerre Stead, Harry M. Kraemer Jr., Steve Forbes, John Rice and Barack Obama (listening to the President of the USA!);
  • the mind boggling real world case studies in our marketing class;
  • the sumptuous potluck dinner at Michel Pontarelli’s home where we had a chance to enjoy dishes from all over the globe;
  • the build-a-bike activity during the IMPACT week that not only helped us understand the importance of teamwork, but more importantly brought about a smile on the faces of the kids who got to keep the bikes we’d made;
  • and the list goes on.

Just like the father who is trying to build a strong foundation for his son, it is these experiences that will prepare us all for the future that lies ahead.

And it is not just in the classroom that we are learning what it means to be a leader and figuring out what it means to be a Tippie student.

Last week, Puneet and I missed our bus and were walking home with our hands full. We stopped on the sidewalk for a moment as the bag that we were carrying was about to break. At that particular moment, we heard a voice calling us, “Do you want a ride?” We turned around and saw a couple in a car. They saw that we were struggling and offered us a ride back home. We were hesitant at first, but realizing our helpless situation, we agreed. I was pleasantly surprised–rather I should say shocked–by their gesture. I don’t know if it is an Iowan thing to help others, but thought, “Seriously, who does that? And for absolute strangers?”

We were touched by their gesture. To me, what that couple did truly defined leadership. They exhibited the qualities that a good leader should have: a sharp sense of observation, an ability to foresee future problems, they did not hesitant to take an initiative, they found a solution for the problem and executed it. I know some of you might feel it to be a bit far-fetched, but isn’t this a perfect example of leadership? Perhaps that is why Harold S. Geneen said, “Leadership cannot be taught. It can only be learned.”  

And you know what the best part of story is? The gentleman turned out to be a Tippie Alum (Class of 1998)!

The ties that bind us.


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