Student Leaders: Edward Stroud ’17 and Carley Sambrook ’17 Executive Directors, Washington and Lee Student Consulting
“WLSC’s diverse learning environment drew me to the organization; the group provides an amazing opportunity to develop a multitude of business, creative, leadership, organizational, and presentation-related skills.” – Carley Sambrook ’17
What first interested you in Washington and Lee Student Consulting? How did you get involved?
Edward: I first found out about WLSC during my first-year on campus and knew that it would fill a gap in my in my involvements by providing a co-curricular opportunity to hone useful business and interpersonal skills, in addition to providing multiple possibilities for growth. So, I immediately applied when the time came at the beginning of sophomore year and was fortunately selected to become a formal member.
Carley: I became involved with WLSC my sophomore year with fall recruitment. WLSC’s diverse learning environment drew me to the organization; the group provides an amazing opportunity to develop a multitude of business, creative, leadership, organizational, and presentation-related skills. Members are exposed not only to consulting, but also to marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, community-relations, and the law.
How were you formerly involved in WLSC, and what are some of the challenges and rewards you’ve found in that role?
Carley: I have been a project leader for the past two terms. Both experiences were excellent preparation for a role as Executive Director, emphasizing the importance of effective communication, team organization, and the promotion of shared ideas and approaches.
Edward: I was also a team project leader, where I managed the expectations of our client and ensured that team members were on task in achieving this goal. Some of the challenges included working around changes in our client’s needs. Also, our client lived far away, so communication and initiative were critical to remaining on task with our goals. One of the biggest rewards I have received from this experience is the ability to learn how to determine exactly what our client needs, give them an outline of our project goals, and develop our own work from there.
How do you divide your current responsibilities?
Edward: During the summer we shared the roles of project generation for fall term. We worked with our faculty advisors, reached out to alums and/or prospective clients, and decided together on which projects to pursue, as well as who will be the team leads and team members for each project. This fall we will work on promoting WLSC on campus in order to procure new members. From there we will hold interviews for the potential members. Once projects are underway, and their letters of engagement proofread, we will focus on programming our weekly meetings. Here, we will split responsibility, along with reminder emails to team leads. The rest of the semester will focus on continued programming events and making sure project leads stay on task.
Carley: It will be interesting to share our individual experiences with the group and plan the growth and development we wish to see for it in the coming year together. I think we will be a strong team.
How would you characterize your experience in one word?
Edward: Variety. I would say WLSC has provided me one of the widest ranges of opportunities and experiences to grow from and learn. It truly is a co-curricular organization where my involvement is both influenced by and influences my classwork.
What has been the most rewarding experience with this organization?
Carley: As a project leader, the most rewarding experience is the release of the final deliverable to the client. The teams put so much work into their respective projects throughout the term. We are then able to look back at all that we have learned, the skills we have developed, and the connections we’ve made.
Edward: Recently, we had a check-in phone call with our client to review next steps and receive feedback on our work so far. It was extremely rewarding to hear them say everything was very well done and they were very impressed with our work. This was truly rewarding because we had to develop the work from scratch and ensure that it would be beneficial to the client. It was even more rewarding when they mentioned they would love to have WLSC back next year.
What have you learned about leadership in this role, and what other lessons will you take with you going forward?
Edward: I’ve learned the art of being flexible with whom you are working with, both the client and other team members. Our project had to work around a variety of changes and problems, and we had to change our initial goals and project stages to better fit our client’s needs and expectations. Being willing to work with your client’s needs and make sure they are satisfied is crucial. Likewise, it is important to be flexible with managing team embers and keeping them on task. Going forward I have taken the lesson of always communicating clearly and frequently, as well as learning to take initiative on work.
Carley: I have learned the balance of being a leader and a follower, even when you are designated as the “leader” of the group. To be an effective leader it is important to know when to take charge, when to encourage a stronger work ethic, and also when to take a step back. Working with various members of WLSC has allowed me to experiment with this concept.
What advice would you give to students who may be interested in getting involved?
Carley: Come to our open meetings! This shows that you have an interest in the consulting industry as well as the organization. We love to recruit new members who make an effort to show their desire to be a productive member of WLSC.
Edward: Reach out! I would love the chance to talk to potential new members.