University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Learning to Lead

Seminars and workshops bring alumni back share their expertise with students

For the past four summers, many U of T chemical engineering and applied chemistry students have spent Friday afternoons acquiring leadership and career skills as part of the department’s Leaders of Tomorrow program.

The series of seminars and workshops brings alumni back to campus to share their expertise with current students, who learn how to manage conflicts in the workplace, prepare for interviews and match their personal values to an organization’s.

“Participating in Leaders of Tomorrow as an undergraduate challenged me to improve my communication, listening and debating skills,” says Kyla Augustine (BASc 2004), who is now pursuing a master’s degree at U of T in chemical engineering. “Not everyone is a born leader, but the program helps us to develop the skills we need to enter the professional world with confidence.”

A department survey found that 100 per cent of participants would recommend the program to their peers; 90 per cent viewed it as valuable to their personal development.

Devised by department chair Doug Reeve and launched in 2002 as a summer program, Leaders of Tomorrow has expanded to include more than 30 events throughout the year. “To attend the networking breakfasts, our students living in the suburbs get up at 5 a.m. to catch the commuter train to be here by 7:30,” says Reeve. “It’s that important to them.”

Alumni have participated in many of the program sessions, but one alumnus and his wife have made a special gift in support of Leaders of Tomorrow. Last July, U of T received the first instalment of Bill and Kate Troost’s donation of $25,000 a year for the next 10 years. “We’re delighted by the Troost’s generosity. It will provide us with the resources to grow the program, reduce the waiting lists and offer new activities,” says Reeve.

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