“This is the kind of program you would never get to do on your own. I learned about leadership and teamwork from some of the most courageous people in the world.” – Siddhant Jain Jaiswal, WG’24

For students in the Wharton MBA Program for Executives, learning extends far beyond the classroom. Through McNulty Leadership Ventures, students are exposed to exhilarating, hands-on learning experiences which further enhance their leadership and teamwork skills. Whether it’s deep-sea sailing in the Caribbean or training with the US Marine Corps at Quantico, the expeditions and intensives offered through McNulty Leadership Ventures are designed to break students out of their comfort zones.

Siddhant Jain Jaiswal (Sid), WG24, recently participated in a day-long leadership intensive with the Fire Department of New York. Through a variety of decision-making and problem-solving scenarios facilitated by FDNY’s state-of-the-art training simulators, Jaiswal strengthened his teamwork skills and became better equipped to lead teams with an innovative strategy.

Jaiswal shares some of the main takeaways from the FDNY intensive program, and his motivation for pursuing the Wharton EMBA program.

New York City Fire Department Battalion Commander Chief Thomas McCarthy smiles with Wharton MBA students.

Leadership and Teamwork Under Pressure

As part of the FDNY intensive, Jaiswal and his classmates participated in simulations which mimic the real-life situations firefighters face every day. “This is the kind of program you would never get to do on your own,” says Jaiswal. “I learned about leadership and teamwork from some of the most courageous people in the world.” 

Jaiswal credits New York City Fire Department Battalion Commander Chief Thomas McCarthy for leading the simulations and sharing words of wisdom from his nearly two decades of FDNY experience. 

During one of the six firefighting simulations, Jaiswal was tasked with crawling through a dark, narrow tunnel to complete the mission.

“I got stuck, and I couldn’t move,” he says. “There was a moment where I completely broke down in tears under this high-stress situation. My team members encouraged me and reminded me that bigger people have gotten through this tunnel before. At that moment I realized how much another voice can make a difference, and what “team support” really means. If I was by myself, I may not have been able to finish.”

Another exercise required the students to make split-second decisions in response to a subway crash simulation.

“This was a perfect example of why decentralized leadership is important,” Jaiswal says. “Sometimes you can’t wait for multiple layers of communication approval before you can make a decision; in our simulations there were lives at stake. I now have a different level of respect for the FDNY firefighters. At the end of the day, it’s a simulation for us. If something goes wrong, there’s a corrective course. In real life, these firefighters have to make life or death decisions in extremely intense conditions. This mantra that they live and breathe every day for their work is commendable.” 

Jaiswal notes that the FDNY intensive showed him there is always an out when attacking a problem.

“When in a situation, rather than looking straight to the leader, tap into your team and leverage their strengths,” he says. “We all have had different experiences growing up, and that shapes us into who we are today. One of our simulation activities involved using a water hose, and a member of my team grew up running track and field. From his experiences playing competitive tug-of-war, he knew to alternate team members on each side of the hose to control the water power in a better way. The power of teamwork can be so strong.”

Wharton MBA students work together wrestling firehoses.

Growing A Professional Network

Part of Jaiswal’s motivation to pursue his Wharton MBA was to set down roots and expand his network in the United States.

“I grew up in a military family, so I moved around a lot. By the time I went to college at the University of Mumbai, I had already lived in fifteen different cities across India,” he says. “I worked at EY in India and the Cayman Islands before relocating to the San Francisco office, which is conveniently located three blocks from Wharton’s campus. When I moved here, I didn’t know anyone outside of the finance sector. Wharton is helping me connect with people working in other industries and build a professional and personal network.”

As a result of the one-day intensive, Jaiswal now has 39 new Wharton connections. “There were tears and hugs at the end, for sure,” he recalls. “We formed smaller teams for the simulations, and I was able to get to know the Philadelphia cohort and full-time MBA students fairly well; given these groups are in different stages of their careers we learned a lot from each other.”

Program participants pose on an FDNY firetruck.

What’s Next?

As he embarks on his final year in the Wharton MBA Program for Executives, Jaiswal plans to continue taking advantage of as many opportunities to network as he can.

“I went to Delhi for a Global Modular Course shortly after the FDNY intensive,” says Jaiswal. “Not only did we engage with business leaders from various government and private sectors, but we also had the opportunity to spend an evening with the Wharton Delhi alumni group. The networking opportunities at Wharton are unparalleled. Next stop – Global Business Week in Switzerland!”

 — Kendra King 

Posted: June 1, 2023

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