When the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation invited me to be the student participant on the Munich Leadership Exchange (LEX), I was surprised and overwhelmed with excitement, yet nervous. I was going to spend nearly a week with a select group of Colorado’s most exceptional business and civic leaders.
Just a month before LEX, I met with my mentors to solicit advice and develop skills on how to best network. This was a rare opportunity for a student, and I wanted to be sure I was prepared to make the most of it, though, my experience ended being unlike anything I had anticipated or prepared for. My mentors advised me to create business cards, identify the delegates I definitely wanted to connect with ahead of time, and to “just be me.” Even though, LEX was a five-day experience with more than 100 delegates, the activities and talks provided an opportunity to meet the majority of the delegates, to connect with them and even create opportunities for potential internships.
Upon arriving at Munich Airport, I was greeted with welcoming smiles, Bavarian culture and food and in-depth conversations about topics that were of interest and great meaning to me. This was just the start of a rewarding, enriching and inspiring experience!
From excursions to panels to presentations, there were lessons to be gained in being innovative, collaborative and committed to the wellbeing of one’s community. Not to mention, the cultural immersion activities celebrated the Bavarian spirit and gave us an example of Denver and Munich collaborations. Among those was an event with the Bavarian and Denver philharmonics, who as international partners exchange conductors and musicians. It was my first time attending a symphony orchestra !
When I reflect on the impact of LEX, the wealth of knowledge I gained and the riveting conversations I had, I can’t help but remember when Leadership Foundation Executive Director Dan Lewis opened the 2017 Colorado Leadership Alliance Summit earlier in the year in January by defining leaders as people who, “lead from where you stand,” and how they use the values of Colorado’s Civic DNA™ to lead. That is, more is completed and achieved when leaders collaborate and capitalize on inclusivity. Furthermore, there is a shared responsibility in making Colorado a better place, whether it is in academia, access or housing – areas we touched on during LEX.
The Munich Leadership Exchange was truly a transformative experience for me, and I am forever grateful for the relationships I made with phenomenal leaders in positions I aspire to be in or collaborate with. It is not too often that a college graduate would be able to have a conversation with the CEO of the Children’s Hospital Colorado’s on a bus ride. I am very grateful to have been granted such an exceptional opportunity, and am very appreciative that the Leadership Foundation included and invested in me.
Nadeen Ibrahim is the 2017 Colorado Leadership Alliance Student Leader of the Year.