Group photo of students and instructors at Immersive Exercise

Take an Insider’s Look at an Immersive Experience at Tufts Gordon Institute

At the most recent Immersive Experience – focused on leadership – we captured an insider’s look at the unique experience awaiting students.

By Akshita Jain, MSIM '24, and Sebastian Useche, MSIM '24

Immersive Experiences offer a valuable hands-on learning opportunity to Tufts Gordon Institute students looking to enhance their graduate experience with intensive deep dives into specific topics, including innovation, entrepreneurship, business analytics, leadership, and more. Students gather in-person at the Tufts University campus for a weekend-long exploration of a particular topic, full of collaboration and impromptu insights.

At the most recent Immersive Experience – focused on leadership – we captured an insider’s look at the unique experience awaiting students.

Icebreaker with Matt McMahan: Leading Through Following With Applied Improvisation

An essential stepping stone in effective collaboration and team learning is breaking the ice! Matt McMahan, Assistant Professor at Emerson College, helped students push past their comfort zones and build connections through applied improvisation. Through improv and mirroring exercises, this session broke down barriers between students and opened a pathway for creative, spontaneous thinking.

Students doing mirroring exercise at Immersive Experience

“By being together in one place,” Kevin Oye, Executive Director of Tufts Gordon Institute explains, “the Immersive Experience allows for serendipity. It creates the opportunity for chance occurrences, for things that you didn’t expect that could be very insightful.” Applied improvisation opens the door wide open for serendipity and sets the stage for a weekend full of collaboration.

Margi Patel, an MS in Engineering Management student, shared, “What I’ve enjoyed most about the Immersive Experience is the energy in the room – the energy that both my professors and my peers bring to the workshops each day.”

Jerry Brightman: Leadership from A to Z – A Personal Journey to Greater Self-Awareness

Tufts Gordon Institute Senior Lecturer Jerry Brightman brought his life experience to the classroom in the form of valuable insights and lessons about leadership. Jerry emphasized some of the most important lessons from his leadership journey: the importance of self-awareness and the significance of recognizing your weaknesses to facilitate personal growth. Using pertinent examples from his own life, Jerry explored how self-driven growth can accelerate your career as a leader.

Jerry Brightman speaking to students at Immersive Experience

Throughout the session, Jerry touched upon several critical topics for students looking to advance as leaders. He addressed the phenomenon of imposter syndrome, urging students to consciously reject feelings of inadequacy and instead direct that energy towards developing the skills and confidence necessary to excel in their roles. Students collaborated to explore the value of systems thinking, and challenged themselves to identify long-term, holistic solutions to modern problems.

Students enjoying a coffee break at Immersive Experience

In a poignant conclusion, Jerry encouraged students to enjoy life's journey, as lessons for growth as both a person and a leader can come from anywhere – not just the classroom or workplace. Students left the session with a parting symbol: envelopes containing mirrors to remind them that they are the future of leadership.

Frank Apeseche: Leading Organizational Change

In the Immersive Experience’s final session, Professor of the Practice Frank Apeseche led a case study focused on Verizon Capital with an aim to explore the various leadership dynamics within the organization. This case study served as the foundation for interactive group work in which students explored organizational structures and practiced navigating different leadership scenarios.

Frank Apeseche teaching at Immersive Experience

The first half of this session engaged students’ management skills, as they devised their own organizational structures based on data and descriptions from the case study, including revenue percentages, department responsibilities, and more. From there, students put their soft skills to the test as they discussed hypothetical scenarios and challenges that might arise within the organization. Collaborating in groups, students practiced responding to these challenges from various positions of leadership.

Students collaborating at Immersive Experience

To end the session, the groups of students compared their organizational structures and scenario responses. Frank also shared his personal leadership experiences and insights, emphasizing the significance of strategic leadership and highlighting that the names and presumed roles of positions are sometimes less important than the qualities and skills exhibited within them.

Group photo of students and instructors at Immersive Exercise

Immersive Experiences are a unique opportunity to connect the Tufts Gordon Institute community while simultaneously providing valuable lessons on highly relevant topics such as leadership. At the end of another successful Immersive Experience, our students departed with a strong sense of comradery, a wealth of new insights into leadership, and an eager anticipation of the next Immersive!

Learn more about Immersive Experiences and discover future Immersive topics by visiting our Immersive Experience webpage.