Leadership Day lessons: Adapt, evolve and innovate

group photo leadership day

Passions change. Interests change. Technology changes. Society changes.

It’s the ability to adapt and evolve that makes a career successful and satisfying.

That lesson emerged at Guadalupe Center’s annual Leadership Day, a business forum for students participating in the nonprofit’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Held Feb. 1 at Vineyards Country Club, Leadership Day featured roundtable discussions focused on the skills needed for success in whatever occupation students ultimately pursue.

The key, according to panelists, is finding a job and career you love.

“Whatever you choose to do, find your passion and the rest will fall into place,” said Meryl Towarnicki, executive vice president of architecture and engineering services for Genesis AEC.
Chase your dreams, another panelist noted, not a paycheck.

“We don’t get paid a lot, but we get paid enough,” said John Krupp, an educator at Golden Gate High School. “Our biggest payment is when we get to see students like you succeed.”

Students dressed in business attire – suits, slacks and dresses – and treated Leadership Day as an opportunity to truly begin exploring the age-old question: What do I want to be when I grow up?

“You never know what people have accomplished in their lives,” advised Daniel Martinez, Tutor Corps’ high school director. “Ask questions. Be curious about their careers.”

This year, 53 students from Guadalupe Center had opportunities for one-on-one and small group conversations with business leaders and used that time to pick their brains, asking questions about how they choose their respective career path, what they like about their jobs, how their interests have changed over time and what skills are needed for success in the workplace.

Eight business and community leaders shared their expertise and insights with students, including:

· Andy Beights, owner of Beights Tech
· John Krupp, testing coordinator and social studies teacher at Golden Gate High School
· Cynthia Lammert, vice president for J.P. Morgan Private Bank
· Peter Jean-Marie, fashion designer and CEO of his self-named clothing brand
· Jose Nunez, Jr., attorney with Law Offices of Jose Nunez, Jr.
· Meryl Towarnicki, executive vice president of architecture and engineering services for Genesis AEC
· Shawanda Wilder, licensed clinical social worker for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
· Murray Yost, retired physician

A key theme of this year’s discussion was the recognition that few people stay in the same job doing the same thing for their entire careers, and that’s OK. It’s all about continuing to aspire for more, recognizing that your dream as a 16-year-old isn’t necessarily your dream job as a 24-year-old, or what your dream will be down the road. As a teen, Jean-Marie was a successful fashion model. Now at 24, his attention is on the business side of fashion. Beights worked in hospitality, education and media before turning to technology. Lammert wanted to be a journalist before joining the banking industry.

Personally, I earned college degrees in communication and film production before moving into corporate marketing and consultancy before finding my vocation in nonprofit management.

Every day, every month and every year, we have opportunities to reinvent ourselves, and hopefully Leadership Day showed those 53 students that success is defined by happiness, passion and the ability to make a difference each and every day.

– By Dawn Montecalvo, President of Guadalupe Center