Building Trust, Shaping Legacies: Our Takeaways from the MBA Collaborative Leadership Retreat

Four pillars to be a collaborative leader

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s MBA curriculum is built on a foundation of collaborative leadership through case studies, teamwork, projects and our collaborative culture of learning.  

The Collaborative Leadership Program (CLP) exemplifies this ethos by providing a space for participants to engage deeply with the principles and practices of effective leadership in a collaborative environment. 

The culmination of the CLP is a three-day Collaborative Leadership Retreat held in Monterey, Calif., alongside historic Cannery Row. Student leaders, program participants, alumni, and executive advisors came together to explore innovative approaches to business education, with a focus on leadership, sustainability, and teamwork.  

Video recap of the 2024 Collaborative Leadership Retreat, courtesy of Jessica Cheng MBA 23 

Four Pillars of Collaborative Leadership Program 

What makes a collaborative leader at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM)? 

  • Inspire others to achieve 
  • Help others to succeed 
  • Build trust and positive energy 
  • Learn from others 

What do these pillars mean? 

Build Trust: Trust is foundational to cultivating strong relationships and fostering effective teamwork. When trust is established, it creates a positive environment where communication flows more freely, leading to increased productivity and collaboration among team members. 

Be a Leader Where You Are: The importance of being a leader where you are lies in positively influencing and inspiring those around you, regardless of your formal title or position. By taking initiative and demonstrating leadership qualities in everyday interactions, you can contribute to a culture of innovation, accountability, and growth within your community or organization. 

Your Legacy Starts Today: The importance of starting your leadership legacy today is rooted in the idea that every action and decision shapes your reputation and impact on others. By beginning to lead with purpose and integrity now, you lay the foundation for a lasting legacy that reflects your values and positively influences future generations. 

Highlights and Takeaways 

  • Discussions with Inspirational Leaders: Our retreat kicked off with a powerful keynote address by Derek Herrera, founder and CEO of Bright Uro. A retired marine captain, Derek's story exemplifies resilience.  

    Paralyzed in the line of duty, he channeled that adversity into building a thriving tech company. Derek began by recounting a harrowing experience during his time in the Marine Corps, where his life was saved because of his team's selfless courage and working collaboratively. His story of resilience and his passion for uniting a team around a shared vision left us all deeply inspired. 
  • Collaborative Leadership Program Alumni Panel: The inaugural alumni panel from the MBA class of 2022 highlighted how the program and retreat facilitated reflection on lessons gleaned from their coursework, program experiences, and leadership journeys in their careers.  

    The retreat afforded them opportunities to expand their network and savor the moments of connection beyond their usual circles. 
  • Writing Leadership Legacy Statements: Paul Bianchi, a veteran HR executive and member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, led us through the poignant exercise of writing legacy statements.  

    Through this introspection, we identified life experiences that have shaped our leadership approach. We then charted our values, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. Sharing our stories with one another opened our eyes to the diverse backgrounds and experiences in the room, fostering a collective desire to leverage our unique strengths to empower others.  
MBA students gather around Keynote Speaker Derek Herrera
MBA students at the Collaborative Leadership Retreat gather around Keynote Speaker Derek Herrera, founder and CEO of Bright Uro, who spoke of courage and teamwork during his time in the Marine Corps.

Final Thoughts

The impact of the retreat and the pillars of the GSM’s Collaborative Leadership Program continue to resonate. With inspired perspectives and gratitude for an incredible learning experience, we as emerging leaders, are poised to make meaningful contributions to our organizations and communities. 

To leave you with one of “Roger’s Rules for Success” from Roger Blackwell, the long-standing mentor of Dean H. Rao Unnava: “Help as many people as you can, in as many ways as you can, for as long as you can.”

At UC Davis, you can build your leadership legacy!