Every year since its founding in 1988, The Learning Society of Queens University of Charlotte has brought world renowned speakers to the Queens community. These speakers are available to both students and the public. For each speaker that is brought to Queens, there is a free afternoon talk that students can attend, followed by an evening session that is available to the public with the purchase of a ticket for admission.
On Thursday, September 27, The Learning Society kicked off their national speaker series for the 2012-2013 school year with Carly Fiorina. Like the speakers that The Learning Society has brought in the past, Fiorina is a leader. She was the first woman to become CEO of a Fortune 20 company, and while on the Queens campus, she made it clear to students that hard work will take them a long way.
Fiorina started her talk with where she received her undergraduate degree. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Medieval History and Philosophy. It was shortly after saying this, that she made a joke about there being hope for all the Queens students and their Liberal Arts degrees.
After graduating from Stanford, Fiorina decided to attend law school. After one semester though, she hated it and quit. This was a really hard thing for her to do, to just give up and quit on something, but she came to this determination; “If I didn’t love what I was doing, I couldn’t be good at it.”
It was from this point that Fiorina started to talk about what she referred to as her humble job. This was her first job after quitting law school. She worked as a secretary.
It was from this job that Fiorina was able to launch herself into the world of business. Two of the men she was working for saw her potential and helped her reach it by promoting her and giving her the chance to succeed as a business woman.
During her talk, the biggest thing Fiorina stressed was leadership. To her, leadership is a balance between realism and optimism. In order to be an effective leader, one must not be starry-eyed, but clear-eyed and realistic.
“Leadership is a choice, not a fate.” said Fiorina.
She admitted that she was not born a leader and while in the place of the Queens students now, as an undergraduate college student, she was afraid of what the future had in store.
One aspect of leadership Fiorina stressed was that it is always criticized. She said the main reason for this is because most people are not willing to gain leadership by implementing change. She said many people get to leadership positions not by shaking things up, but by toeing the line.
“Change is like heaven; everyone wants to go there, no one wants to die.” said Fiorina.
For Queens students aspiring to become a leader, Fiorina said it is important to seek challenge. Mistakes happen, she said, but the goal is not to make the same mistake twice. Ultimately, she believes the goal is progress, not perfection.
The 3 best leadership qualities of a CEO according to Carly Fiorina
- Invests in building capabilities
- Sees possibilities in others and gives them a chance
- Motivated people to move forward through difficult times