Leadership Studies Alumni Spotlight: Cole Challender

Cole Challender

Role: Executive Account Director, Global Strategic Accounts
Industry/Sector: Technology & Management Services
Company Name: Magnit Global
Year graduated from Humboldt: 2019

What inspired you to pursue Leadership Studies and finish your bachelor’s degree?

Several years ago, I started to recognize that many organizations focus on training future
leaders on how to interpret and understand finances, market and sell services and products, and build processes and structure to execute work with excellence. Essentially, they trained individuals on how to be good business managers. 

As I began to move up in my career, I understood that building skills in managing business was important, but I also started to realize that developing skills that would help me become a better communicator, relationship-builder, motivator, and influencer within the organization was equally as important. That’s where leadership comes in. When I learned about the program at Humboldt, I jumped at the chance to develop leadership capabilities that I knew would help me progress professionally and personally.

How did completing the Leadership Studies program impact your life?

By gaining exposure to leadership concepts, leadership styles, communication, social, environmental responsibility, change management, culture/pop culture influences on work, and more – I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects and complexities that individuals must take into consideration when leading people. Because of all I have studied and learned, my perspective on the subject of leadership and what it means to be a truly great leader has been completely transformed.

What do you enjoy about your current position/profession?

In my role as a senior director within my organization, I am responsible for managing several global client relationships. This means I am afforded the privilege to partner with amazing professionals from all over the world -- each with their own rich set of skills, experiences, and perspectives. I get so excited when I meet people who have very unique and differing world-experiences than I do because it allows me to build a deeper appreciation and understanding of the concept of leadership in a global context.

What are your career goals?

As my thoughts and perspectives on leadership have evolved over the past several years, so has my thinking on career goals. Previously, I really dedicated myself to getting ahead in my career (e.g. chasing a title, promotions, etc.); basically, I lived to work and sacrificed balance in my life. Now that I’ve built a more thorough understanding of how to be a better leader and person, I ensure that any career progression goals are also accompanied by considerations of my personal plans and aspirations (relationships with family, friends, my own mental well-being, personal physical health, etc.). With a more thoughtful approach to my career, I am able to maintain an integrated life where I am satisfying my desire to advance professionally towards an executive role at my company, while also remaining true to my personal values of family, curiosity, and humaneness.

What is a leadership text or resource that you can’t live without? 

I’ve consumed many books on leadership over the years, but my favorite has been Bill George’s book “Discover Your True North” (and the accompanying fieldbook). It’s without a doubt one of the most influential books I’ve read. Understanding one’s own story -- your crucibles, what’s shaped you, what motivates you, your most treasured values, and leadership principles -- can help future leaders discover their true leadership purpose. I wholeheartedly believe George’s message that once a leader recognizes their purpose, they will be able to lead more authentically, achieve true, meaningful fulfillment in all aspects of their life, and become a leader that positively impacts the world.

Is there anything else about your story that you care to share? Anything exciting happening right now?

After completing the Humboldt Leadership Studies program, I was inspired to pursue additional education on the subject. I am currently a student at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School where I act as a student ambassador and engage with prospective students considering attending the university. I will be completing my collegiate journey in December 2022 when I earn my master of science in management and leadership (MSML) degree from Pepperdine.