Gathering of Industry Leaders and Engineering Students Sparks Cross-Generational Dialogue on Leadership Education


From left: Kasra Modares (CivE 1T6), Nusrat Nowrin (ChemE 1T5), Yee Wei Foong (MSE 1T5), Michael Suppa (MEng 1T4), Pawel Chomicki (EngSci 1T4), Lamya Ezzeldin (ChemE 1T5), Scott Whitty (EngSci 1T3), Jacquelyn MacCoon (MEng 1T4), Emanuel Diomis (MEng 1T4), Jaquelyn Rodriguez (IndE 1T5), Albert Huynh (MASc 1T5), Lobna El Gammal (ChemE 1T4), Ryan Mintz (ECE 1T4)

On January 17, 2014 twenty senior business leaders of engineering-focused companies were invited to the University to have a burning question answered: What do U of T Engineering students think about leadership in engineering?

The Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead) asked 18 graduate and undergraduate students engaged in its programs to share their perspectives as future engineers for an audience of invited CEOs and company founders. Their message: leadership development opportunities make them better students today and better engineers out in the workforce tomorrow.

The gathering of students and business leaders was a rare opportunity for U of T Engineering to engage in cross-generational dialog about advancing the engineering profession. Elaine Campbell, President of AstraZeneca Canada, asked about qualities that students look for in leadership mentors. Colin Andersen, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority, raised the need for engineers to learn how to lead in multidisciplinary teams. Mark Davis, President and CEO of Chemtrade Logistics, wanted to hear about leadership attributes students thought were important in teams and organizations from the engineer’s perspective.

Lobna El Gammal (ChemE 1T4), who is doing her fourth-year thesis on leadership and the PEY experience, was surprised at just how intently the business leaders were listening,

“The CEOs were totally engaged and nodding their heads when students spoke; it was clear that our experiences as students mattered to them. I was given a platform to say how important leadership education is to me and to learn from these accomplished business people. It was a great opportunity,” said El Gammal.

ILead Director Prof. Doug Reeve, who hosted the event, believes that U of T Engineering’s leadership programs help to distinguish it as a centre of excellence, “We have a bold vision for the 21st century engineer. By giving students opportunities to grow in areas critical to their success, such as authentic self-leadership, team skills, and organizational savvy, U of T Engineering is preparing a generation of engineers to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.”

ILead is a unique hub for leadership learning that offers academic courses, certificates and department-based programs to all U of T Engineering students. Its vision: engineers leading change to build a better world.

The Institute will find its new home in the Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CEIE), a dynamic new environment that will foster creativity and inspire 21st-century learning and innovation. CEIE is set to break ground later this year.

View student reactions to the event on our YouTube channel.