Last December, 11 Columbia Business School (CBS) students completed the first 10-day CBS Leadership Expedition to Patagonia. Maya Mandel, CBS class of 2013 and president of the Outdoor Adventures Club was responsible for bringing the course to fruition. Initially introduced to NOLS through a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, Maya was interested in what NOLS could offer her and her peers. After discussing several different options, it was determined that an expedition to Patagonia would best suit the CBS students.
Mandel, a second year student from Israel, noted that her decision to attend CBS was not fueled by a desire to change careers. Rather, she said, “I was eager to push myself outside my comfort zone. I wanted to create meaningful relationships with new colleagues… and I hoped to be inspired to do things that I never would have done otherwise.” The inaugural CBS Leadership Expedition to Patagonia helped her do just that. In fact, she stated, the course “was the pinnacle of my CBS experience thus far.”
The expedition consisted of 10 days spent in the remote Northern Patagonia Mountains. Mandel reminisced, “We carried 60-pound backpacks, crossed rivers, climbed mountain passes, drank maté, devoured the dulce de leche treat, handled fatigue and injuries, enjoyed two to three sunny mornings, and survived the last day of the world, (at least according to the Mayan Calendar), and witnessed first-hand how in such a short time period we learn new skills, adapt, grow, and lead.”
Mandel spoke highly of their three instructors and explained, “[They] introduced leadership principals, decision-making styles, and encouraged us to conduct an open and honest feedback session at the end of every day. We learned about self-leadership, designated leadership, and most importantly how to be an effective active follower. We lived by the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles and practiced good expedition behavior (EB) day in and day out.”
Regarding the many lessons gained from such a unique expedition experience, Mandel reflected, “We had the opportunity to focus on the simple things in life, to receive (and give) sincere feedback from teammates, to face and overcome obstacles never faced before, to practice all kinds of leadership, to laugh, to explore, to reflect, to challenge, to conquer, to support.” She closed by saying, “The inaugural CBS Leadership Expedition to Patagonia was everything I was hoping my MBA experience would be.”