A unique array of Special Topics courses have been offered during the Fall 2021 semester. In particular, UGBA 196 Leading With Impact, a class taught by Professor Doy Charnsupharindr, Susan Houlihan, and Kevin Ba Ross, challenges Haas students to expand their knowledge on today’s business environment in an interactive manner.

Walking into Chou Hall on the first Tuesday afternoon of the Fall semester, I entered a learning environment that incorporated elements of social interaction as well as networking. Instantly, Professor Charnsupharindr and Houlihan encouraged students to interact with one another to foster community. I believe their objective is to establish a sense of familiarity in the classroom environment. In the past seven weeks, we have had the opportunity to break out into various groups and deconstruct the readings and TED Talks presented to us. Readings predominantly cover leadership skill sets that we cover in class, while TED Talks demonstrate how to utilize and incorporate these skills during our daily interactions. As a class, we use self reflection tactics and vulnerability to break down readings and TED Talks, which is unlike any learning tactic I have ever seen. I came to discover that the professors’ goal is to establish relationships through vulnerable interactions or stepping outside our comfort zone.

During our third week of the course, Professor Charnsupharindr and Houlihan challenged the class to “step outside” of our comfort zones by incorporating the story-telling activity, “Curtain Up. Curtain Down.” “Curtain Up. Curtain Down” provided us with the opportunity to interact with our peers by presenting a deep, yet brief moment in our lives that transformed our mindset or played a significant role in developing our character. During our presentations in small groups, we were expected to physically act out opening and closing a curtain. This exercise is one of many distinguishing features of the course. Often, students are expected to present their data or knowledge by utilizing presentation skills, intended to grasp the audience’s attention for a brief period of time. However, Professor Charnsupharindr and Houlihan expect students to own the room when they present. “Owning the room” is essentially described as embodying your space with confidence, as well as humility. The objective is to engage audience members, specifically by making use of facial expressions, gestures, and eye contact; creating a welcoming environment. Thus far, an essential principle of the course has been developing confidence by stepping out of one’s comfort zone, and the professors prioritize creating a safe environment to build confidence. Therefore, my key take-away from “Curtain Up. Curtain Down” revolved around how I can confidently interact with a story to establish my presence in a room.

Leading With Impact provides students with the ability to excel by receiving the knowledge as well as guidance that is necessary to become a successful leader. Therefore, the course has transformed the way I, as well as my peers, view the realm of business.

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