Emotional Intelligence and Design Thinking: How SIEML at UC Davis Sparked My Drive for an MBA

Empowering others through financial literacy and personal development

Nye Smarr and Austin Claiborne
On a SIEML field trip to San Francisco, Nye Smarr met UC Davis Bay Area MBA student Austin Claiborne, who led a behind-the-scenes tour of the Chase Center, home of his employer, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Editor's note: The University of California's Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML) offers a two-week immersive business and career leadership experience for undergraduates from an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) or HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution). The program rotates annually to each of the six UC business schools. The UC Davis Graduate School of Management hosted SIEML from May 20-30, 2024.

Who knew my first trip to California would be life-changing and ignite my ambition to pursue an MBA?

Attending the Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML) at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management was a transformative experience that expanded my horizons, enhanced my skills and deepened my understanding of business management.

The program's intensive curriculum, which included sessions on emotional intelligence, diversity, equity, inclusion, and design thinking, equipped me with valuable insights and practical knowledge for my future career.

Hearing from esteemed institutions like UC Davis, UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management, UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and UC Riverside’s School of Business provided a comprehensive view of the diverse opportunities available in graduate business education.

group of people behind a podium
UC Davis MBAs (front row, left to right) Bryant Yu, Josh Hubbard, and Kritika Singh shared their business insights and opportunities with SIEML students on a panel moderated by Elizabeth Mayo (back row, fourth from right).

The finale of the amazing first week of SIEML was a trip to San Francisco and tour of the Chase Center, home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

UC Davis MBA student Austin Claiborne, the program manager for the Warrior Community Foundation, led the tour and moderated a panel discussion featuring fellow UC Davis MBA students Josh Hubbard, assistant news director at KTO-TV, and Kritika Singh, student body president and project manager at Fremont Bank; and UC Davis MBA alumnus Bryant Yu, vice president of finance and administration for NBC Sports Bay Area and California. They each shared real-world insights into the sports business and management world.

This trip was an introduction to California and a portal to a new world of endless prospects and the great programs UC Davis and other UC schools have to offer.

Empowering Through Financial Literacy and Personal Development

As a finance and banking major at Delaware State University, I have recognized the transformative impact of financial literacy and access to resources, instilling in me a profound sense of responsibility to share this knowledge and provide opportunities for other students.

Pursuing an MBA will provide me with the expertise to design and implement educational initiatives like financial literacy programs and professional development for others to thrive.

One of my most significant learnings from SIEML was the importance of emotional intelligence in both personal and professional contexts.

group of SIEML students at Chase Center
Nye Smarr (center, front row) in San Francisco with fellow SIEML students (left to right) Taylor Goree, Miles Moten, Emmanuel Durojaiye and Delana Amoah.

Previously, I believed behavior was driven solely by rewards and punishments. However, I learned that physical and emotional experiences resonate with us before our intellect engages, meaning that reason and emotion must work together to create intelligent behavior.

This is especially true in decision-making and relationship-building, where emotions often take precedence. Self-control and empathy, key aspects of emotional intelligence, are crucial for effective leadership.

Lastly, the sessions on design were eye-opening. Design thinking integrates "design" into the innovation process from the beginning, making it human-centered and iterative. The process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing helps in creating solutions that better meet end-users' needs.

SIEML has profoundly impacted my professional and personal development, expanding my network, introducing me to new ways of thinking, and equipping me with essential skills for my future career.

Can you say "SIEML!"? - The Class of 2024

The opportunity to learn from leading UC schools and the memorable visit to the Chase Center have reinforced my desire to pursue an MBA and leverage my education to make a positive impact.

This experience has shown me the limitless opportunities that lie ahead and the valuable programs that UC Davis and other UC schools offer. I’d like to thank the entire UC Davis staff for hosting us and the UC school faculty and staff for their unwavering dedication and support towards making a lasting impact on my future.