by Hannah Crane
Perhaps the most pressing and compelling question of our time is “how can we prepare leaders
to best respond to unforeseen crises and conflicts?” Luckily, NYU Stern is answering the call. On
February 10th, the NYU Stern School of Business hosted students, administrators, and external
company representatives for a day long crisis simulation. The on-campus leadership exercise
was sponsored by Alvarez and Marsal.
The participants, all first-year MBA students enrolled in the Leadership Development Program,
arrived to campus bright and early, ready to tackle the unknown crisis ahead of them. After an
initial briefing on the company they would be representing, the student teams headed to their
respective locations within the building. Once they settled into their designated
“headquarters”, each team patiently waited for the crisis to unfold.
Shortly thereafter, each group received a panicked phone call from the manager of a company
plant halfway around the world with news that no leader wants to hear: their plant security
was breached by a violent local gang. Not only was the gang in question one of the most
notorious criminal organizations in the world, but they were working in tandem with a terrorist
Incredibly, the students jumped into action without hesitation. They identified the issues they
needed to address, outlined stakeholder groups to consider and contact, and began to hold
press conferences. As a member of the press panel, I was blown away by the students
participating in the simulation. Every group that spoke with us was calm, level headed, and
incredibly serious about successfully addressing the situation.
As a part-time MBA student myself, I was impressed by their commitment to the exercise and
their ability to think and lead effectively under pressure. My biggest takeaway from the day was
how impressively students were able to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and
translate that knowledge into leadership in action.
Every student embodied what I love most about our community here at Stern: a commitment
to excellence, an ability to collaborate and work effectively as a team, and perhaps most
importantly, they each exhibited incredible empathy. Even though this was a simulation,
students overwhelmingly were concerned with the people who would be affected by such a
breach in security. From the employees being held hostage within the plant, to their friends and
family members, as well as the impact this would have on local communities– the teams
worked tirelessly to contain the violence and protect their people on the ground.
Empathy, particularly in a crisis, is one of the most important qualities a leader can possess.
Watching our students come together and respond to this crisis while centering and focusing
on the human, was a wonderful reminder of what makes NYU Stern so special and I was
honored to be a part of this unique, exciting, and cutting edge simulation.
About the Author
Hannah Crane is the Assistant Director of the Institute for Executive Education at NYU School of Law. A graduate of the NYU College of Arts and Science, Crane holds a BA in Anthropology and a double minor in Spanish and Art History. Crane is currently pursuing her MBA in Sustainable Business and Innovation with a focus on social impact at the NYU Stern School of Business.
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