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Lucy Polzin: Global Leadership Minor Spotlight

Let's travel with Lucy Polzin, class of 2025, during her time in the GLM program.

Our (3) Caldwell Fellows who participated in the Global Leadership Minor for the 2024 Cohort. Lucy Polzin (Far right).

The Global Leadership and Team Decision-Making minor is a program designed for students who seek to gain greater knowledge and understanding of leadership and team decision-making from a European global perspective in a cohort format. The coursework is composed of courses grounded in theory, inquiry, and application. The student study abroad in the Czech Republic, United Kingdom and Germany.

I think it’s really special to be able to travel and learn with a small group, and the people I was with came from a lot of different backgrounds with different interests. They pushed me to learn and do many things I wouldn’t have on my own.

Q: What was your favorite part of the abroad experience? 

Lucy: It’s really difficult to pick just one favorite part. Predictably, I loved being able to travel and I saw some very beautiful places all across Europe. I was very interested in the history and culture of each city we visited. Although, however cliche it is, I would still say my favorite part was the friends I made. I think it’s really special to be able to travel and learn with a small group, and the people I was with came from a lot of different backgrounds with different interests. They pushed me to learn and do many things I wouldn’t have on my own. It was really hard to say goodbye at the end. 

GLM group on our final day in the program in Prague, Czech Republic.

Q: Was there a certain excursion that impacted you the most? If so, how? Which location was your favorite?

Lucy: The location where I learned the most was Reutlingen, Germany. We worked in teams with students from the ESB business school on a consulting project for a local engineering company concerning their global marketing strategy. It was a chance to actually use the skills we were learning in class on cross-cultural teams, and we were able to connect with the German students. 

My favorite location was Nice, France. The French Riviera is very picturesque and it was even warm and sunny for a few days, which was a nice change (Nice!). We had class with students from Université Cotê D’Azur, and we learned about local sustainability movements and NGO citizen science initiatives. I really enjoyed the topic and I was surprised at how much I found applicable to my life in the US. 

The GLM and UniCA students on a visit to a biosphere island in Cannes, France.

During this minor, I was able to become better aware of my own biases and blind spots when it comes to working with people from other cultures.

Q: How did this minor provide you with a global perspective of leadership practices outside of the United States?

Lucy: During this minor, I was able to become better aware of my own biases and blind spots when it comes to working with people from other cultures. I learned about the prevalence and value of multicultural teams in the business world, and ways to foster synergy and capitalize on the strengths of all members of a team. Obstacles are inevitable in global teams, but now I feel equipped to face them. 

American NC State and German ESB students present to a local manufacturer on how to improve their global marketing strategy.

Q: What were your leadership perceptions of global leadership before you went abroad and when you returned?

I knew global leadership would involve learning about different cultures, but doing the GLM taught me how to use that information to improve how a team functions and take the most advantage possible of diversity in perspectives. Global leadership is an iterative and ongoing process that requires continuous curiosity and modification depending on the situation. 

It was a great way to round out my education and practice soft skills I can use in my career, especially in a world that is becoming more and more globalized everyday.

Q: Why would you recommend this minor program to other students interested in leadership? Or students interested in learning about other cultures?

I would definitely recommend the Global Leadership Minor to other students. As a chemical engineering major, I found the classes to be very interesting and contrasting to the classes I take at State. It was a great way to round out my education and practice soft skills I can use in my career, especially in a world that is becoming more and more globalized everyday. And, obviously, it’s pretty cool to spend a semester traveling through three countries in Europe and working with other students from around the world!

Q: What did you learn about the team decision-making process?

I learned many things about the team decision-making process, but most of them can be boiled down to just making sure everyone has a voice. It is part of your responsibility as a leader or even just a team member to make sure everyone has space to express their opinion and feel that their contributions are being taken into serious consideration. This is important in helping team members stay engaged, but an added bonus is that your product or solution will be better because you created it with a variety of perspectives in mind!

A photo from our classroom in the Prague Center.

Q: What was something new you learned during the program?

Lucy: The program taught me the value of staying curious. There are so many things in the world that I don’t know, and I love the process of finding out. Everyone I interact with has their own unique stories, knowledge bases, and cultural experiences. I’ve gotten a lot better at asking the right questions. I’ve also gotten better at seeing unfamiliar situations as exciting rather than daunting, and seeking out new and challenging experiences. 

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