Student Podcasts Tackle the Stress That Comes with Leadership

Woman sitting at her laptop with face buried in her hands

Each year, Lauren D’Innocenzo, assistant professor of management, looks for new ways to engage undergraduate students in ORGB 320 Leadership: Theory and Practice.

This spring’s remote learning environment led her to try out a new technology-based angle that brought out strong efforts from her students.

Following a week of study on the stress of leadership, with guest lectures from Payal Sharma, assistant professor of business at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and James Silvas, peak performance coach, D’Innocenzo assigned her class to write and produce their own podcast-style recordings with advice on managing stress. Exploring leadership in this way felt ideally suited to the moment, says D’Innoncenzo, in light of both the stress felt worldwide due to the global pandemic and the technology connecting students to faculty and to one another. (It’s important to note these podcasts were recorded in April, prior to the peaceful protests and civil unrest in response to police brutality and systemic racism.)

“I’ve seen the amazing things Drexel students can create when given some freedom, so I developed an assignment where they had latitude to be creative,” she said. “It turned out to be an incredible opportunity that would not have happened had it not been for our switch to remote learning. Given the topic, I knew that what the students would share would be right on par with what leaders in industry needed to hear as well.”

The students drew on lessons from Sharma and Silvas, as well as videos by Anne Grady, a resiliency expert whom D’Innocenzo met at last fall’s Pennsylvania Conference for Women, and a podcast on “Life During Crisis” by Dr. Sanja Gupta and Deepak Chopra. Those speakers, in addition to the experts from class, resonated with Vriti Khurana, a senior with a custom-designed major in Global Health Technologies.

“They spoke about how leadership has changed during COVID and how important it is to look after yourself so that you can be a better leader,” she said. “Though most people were able to adapt to the first part, many people — including myself — forget how important it is to make sure you are at your prime so you can lead efficiently and effectively.”

Assata King, a pre-junior majoring in marketing and organizational management, had previous podcasting experience from a Dean’s Student Advisory Board project during winter term and came away with a better understanding of how she could be a leader even at this early stage of her career.

“When companies and leaders who have had a specific business model in place are faced with uncontrollable circumstances that shift everything, they really need fresh perspectives from new voices,” she said.

D’Innocenzo selected several of the final podcasts to share with the wider LeBow community and noted she was happy with how the entire class approached the assignment.

“I’m proud of what every student was able to accomplish,” she said. “I hope they are able to take some of the advice they prepared for the podcast and apply it to their own lives.”

Select student podcasts are available for streaming or download here:

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