Imagine entering college already experienced at crafting meaningful, persuasive messages, collaborating with peers, and bringing raw ideas to fruition? That’s the goal of Leadership Lab, a St. Luke’s School innovation where students work with business and community leaders to turn ideas into actionable plans.
The success of the Leadership Lab program inspired a new strategic priority featured in St. Luke’s Strategic Plan: Prepared to Thrive.
The Power of Brand is a popular Leadership Lab mini-course now in its third iteration. This year’s guest brand experts were Greg Lyons, Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo Beverage North America, and Pam Kaufman, President of Global Consumer Products and Experiences for Paramount (includes BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and Showtime).
The Power of Brand—Learning From Icons
Students began with a lesson in branding fundamentals taught by Chris Wearing, Chairman, Teneo International. Wearing, a St. Luke’s parent and trustee, led students through a series of questions designed to help define their business or product and uncover their brands’ purpose.
Chris Wearing leads a lesson in branding fundamentals
Two days of concept development followed with students mentored by Wearing, Mike Gaumer, the President of Vineyard Vines, and David Pakman, Partner at Venrock and co-founder of Apple’s Music Group. Gaumer and Pakman are also St. Luke’s parents and Pakman is a trustee. Mentors asked clarifying questions, pointed out strengths, and flagged potential problems.
Center for Leadership Director Kate Parker Burgard and David Pakman field student questions
The Power of Brand culminated with groups of students presenting concepts including a social media app for student athletes, a recycled electric car, and an algorithm-free, discussion-based platform for talking over social issues.
Calum Regan ‘24 and Myles Sead ‘23 present their group’s project: The Connective
Mentors Wearing and Gaumer, and student Katie Stute ‘22 listen to a concept pitch
Guest experts, St. Luke’s parent Greg Lyons, Chief Marketing Officer at PepsiCo Beverages North America, and Pam Kaufman, President of Global Consumer Products and Experiences for Paramount, asked questions and gave candid feedback after each presentation.
Lyons was impressed with the ideas saying “I’m thinking of investing” and emphasizing the need to “target narrowly, appeal widely.” Kaufman was particularly inspired by the social discussion platform saying, “I wish you would keep talking. This is such a big idea. This is something we need right now.” Both judges applauded that concepts were rooted in core values and relayed that the only way to have an authentic, successful brand is to maintain a laser focus on those values.
Guest Expert Pam Kaufman, President of Global Consumer Products and Experiences for Paramount
Guest Expert Greg Lyons, Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo Beverages North America
Jack Silverman ‘23, whose group presented REV (Recycled Electronic Vehicle), said that agreeing on the specifics of the product was a challenge. Calum Regan ‘24, who presented The Connective agreed saying, “Honing in on the purpose and the idea of what a brand should be was challenging. Ideas were swirling and so it was quite difficult to decide on one, and build a brand for it.” Sylvia Samardzija ‘24, also part of The Connective, added that she came away feeling she learned “how to build a brand by looking at what the consumer finds most valuable.”
Leadership Lab: The Power of Brand Group Photo
Building the Confidence to Launch
Leadership Lab continues to offer students opportunities to do what many professionals have yet to experience: going from an idea in their heads to collaborating with teammates on an effective presentation while getting insights from successful leaders. The result—students learn to make things happen, gain practical experience in networking and exposure to divergent perspectives, and grow in confidence.
Next Up: Leadership Lab—The Power of Public Service
Coming soon is a new post about a Leadership Lab designed for students interested in researching and preparing positions on pending legislation. The Power of Public Service was led by St. Luke’s parent Michael Gordon, Principal and Chief Executive of the Gordon Group, and featured guest legislative experts, Congressman Jim Himes, and State Senator Will Haskell.
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