Guest Blog: Michael Zaydon on the Emerging Leaders Symposium

Author Bio:

Michael Zaydon, CPA

Senior Associate – Private Equity Specialist Group

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in New York City

2006 Central PA HOBY Alumnus

2007-Present Central PA HOBY Leadership Seminar Facilitator

2013-Present Central PA HOBY Leadership Seminar Section Leader


Photo provided by Michael Zaydon.

Photo provided by Michael Zaydon

The M&A Advisor named Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership the 2015/2016 Education Foundation Honoree and sponsored 20 HOBY delegates to attend this year’s Emerging Leaders Symposium, moderated by President and Co-CEO, David Fergusson. The Symposium took place on June 29, 2015 at the offices of Steelcase Inc. overlooking Columbus Circle in New York City.

The faculty speakers at the Symposium were respected and influential voices within their industries, representing some of the biggest names in finance, law, journalism, public policy, social justice, conservation and not-for-profits. The interactive structure of the event’s curriculum offered attendees the time for speaker Q&A and targeted conversations with table groups led by The M&A Advisor facilitators, many of whom were previous winners of the 40 under 40 Emerging Leaders Award. A new class of honorees was presented this award at the 6th Annual Emerging Leaders Gala at the Roosevelt Hotel later in the evening.

After a panel session, titled Social Entrepreneurship: For Profit and For Good, HOBY delegates were fortunate to have a private meeting with Rodrigo Arboleda, former Chairman and CEO of One Laptop Per Child. Rodrigo, whose background is in architecture, spoke of the unique challenges involved in the endeavor and how his team found similarly unique solutions. Rodrigo noted that the laptops given to students in developing countries are a means to empower students to own their education, and are not the end in itself. For the HOBY delegates, a valuable lesson taken from this conversation was that complex issues can be resolved with unconventional tools when creativity and determination drive an idea to become a reality.

  • What I learned and the value of the experience

The Emerging Leaders Symposium offered a cross-disciplinary platform for leaders to share ideas and insights. While HOBY delegates were reminded of the tendency of professionals to operate in industry silos, this event evidenced the power of the alternative – a kaleidoscope of thinkers and leaders. The M&A Advisor Education, Innovation and Conservation Foundation Honorees who spoke at the Symposium each showed how they empower, lead and excel in their own right. It was very important for HOBY delegates to see firsthand that HOBY’s mission is valued and supported by an organization like The M&A Advisor through the Education Foundation Honoree distinction and invitation to attend the Symposium.

  • What it was like to connect with other HOBY Alumni and volunteers as an adult in a professional setting

This event was somewhat different from the usual atmosphere of HOBY’s ongoing programs – Community Leadership Workshops, Leadership Seminars, Advanced Leadership Academy or the World Leadership Congress – taking on strictly a professional tone with no youth participants. However, HOBY delegates, who traveled from all over the country, instantly connected on the same level with fellow HOBY alumni and volunteers because a common bond existed even prior to initial introductions. It was clear that past HOBY experiences unified each HOBY delegate to rise to the occasion while they represented HOBY at the Emerging Leaders Symposium in a professional capacity. This was evidenced by the delegates’ active participation in roundtable discussions, Q&A and conversations amongst HOBY peers and Symposium faculty alike.

  • My recommendation for future HOBY Delegates

I would recommend that future HOBY delegates come to the event prepared to network. The Emerging Leaders Symposium offered a limited number of spaces in order to facilitate an intimate setting for meaningful networking and depth of conversation. A pocket full of business cards is important, but an open mind and willingness exchange ideas is the best asset to yield a return on your time investment in representing HOBY at The M&A Advisor Emerging Leaders Symposium.

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