The St Cyr Experience: Leadership Boot Camp

By Constanza Barrena, Global MBA 2014-2015, Chile

After only two weeks in the Global MBA, we have had a roller coaster of experiences and incredible learning. After experiencing the first week of classes doing CRASE (Cornell Restaurant Administration Simulation Exercise) with the charismatic and energetic Professor Peter O’Connor, we knew that our learning experience would not only come from the classroom. It would also come from group interactions and the exchange of cultures we have in this incredibly diverse group… And our visit to the French military academy St Cyr Co√ętquidan for a leadership bootcamp helped reinforce this discovery.

We arrived at St Cyr on Monday around dinner time not knowing what to expect. We left our bags at the barracks and headed to the cafeteria to share a meal with the soldiers who live there. Over the next two days, we were divided into two teams to face several challenges together. The goal was to learn how to work together to achieve an objective, how to become a leader, but most importantly, to be humble, to plan, and to learn to work as a team.

After a lot of planning, thinking, delegating, climbing, crawling, rescuing soldier Willy (who kept getting in trouble), falling into water, and a couple of bruises (sometimes more than a couple), partnership and cohesion emerged as we learned to listen to each other instead of talking over each other, and that we could rely on our peers to fulfill the goal. By understanding “the method” by which soldiers work together, some of us even overcame fears and others were able to achieve what they believed to be impossible.

St Cyr was not about experiencing life at military boot camp for three days, though we did do that. It was about becoming a team, a unit that from now on can overcome whatever comes our way. For me, it was a life changing experience that helped me to get to know my classmates and myself in a completely new and deeper dimension. Leadership and companionship were definitely achieved… both incredibly useful for the challenging year ahead in the Global MBA!

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