Four Queen’s students vie for CEO experience

Queen's News Centre profiles 4 students selected as Toronto semi-finalists for CEO x 1 Day program.

By: Mark Kerr

As someone who wants to lead a company one day, Susan Wang would welcome the opportunity to spend the day with the chief executive officer of a major corporation. Susan Wang (Com’14) applied for the Chief Executive Officer for a Day Competition to learn more about the ways senior executives make decisions.

“Job shadowing, in general, is very valuable. It would be especially valuable if I could spend some time with someone I aspire to be and get some advice on how that person got to where he or she is now,” says Ms. Wang, a fourth-year Commerce student.

Wang and three other Queen’s students – Hasina Daya (Artsci’14), Chu Wang (Com’15) and Stephanie Spagnolo (Com’14) – are among the 18 semifinalists for the Chief Executive Officer for a Day (CEO x 1 Day) competition run by Odgers Berndtson, a global executive search firm. The semifinalists – all upper-year undergraduate students – completed several group and individual exercises in Toronto on January 13.

Seven finalists will be selected to shadow a CEO in February.

Ms. Wang would like to shadow Elyse Allan of General Electric or Nitin Kawale of Cisco because of her interest in technology. She anticipates the experience would give her a fresh perspective on the material she is studying and reading about in textbooks.

“I would like to see the decision-making process that goes on behind their strategies and get a better understanding of their perspective. I also want to see what the job actually entails and the problems they might encounter on a day-to-day basis,” Ms. Wang says.

Hasina Daya (Artsci’14) says the national competition helped her learn more about professional leadership. Ms. Daya didn’t hesitate to apply for the competition, even though she is focused on global development studies and religious studies and not commerce. “I see plenty of room for students who have studied humanities to excel in corporations. It is my belief that international corporations value the insight that studying globalization and its effects brings,” she says. “I think as a development studies student, if I was to join the corporate world, I’d bring insight that would serve as a check or balance auditing for cultural sensitivity, accessibility, and corporate social responsibility.”

Even if they do not make the final cut, both Ms. Wang and Ms. Daya have enjoyed the experience and benefitted from the multiphase application process.

“As co-president of the Queen’s chapter of Global China Connection last year, I scribbled some notes about effective leadership. But they were very high level thoughts,” says Ms. Wang. “This competition gave me the opportunity to think more coherently about leadership and learn more about myself through the online leadership assessment.”

“I applied to gain insight into professional leadership and learn best practices from industry experts on how they engage, motivate and direct their peers to create sustainable solutions,” says Ms. Daya, president and chief executive officer of the Queen’s Residence Society. “As I apply to graduate school, this experience is something that will set me apart and show that I have diverse interests. And hopefully, if all goes well, I will have a great mentoring experience as well.”

Odgers Berndtson created CEO x 1 Day with the goal of identifying a few of Canada’s most promising future leaders and helping current CEOs understand what drives the next generation of leaders. The company will announce the finalists in the coming weeks.