UBC Sauder student shares reflections on the 2019 Oxford-Aspen Leadership Seminar

Peter Hair
Posted 2019-09-10

Second year Professional MBA student, Peter Hair, has returned to UBC Sauder after an inspiring opportunity abroad that included developing his leadership skills with select peers from around the globe.

Hair was selected to attend the prestigious 2019 Oxford-Aspen Leadership Seminar at the Oxford Saïd Business School in London, UK. Twenty students participated in the annual seminar and explored classic texts from luminaries such as Plato and Mencius, as well as from contemporary thinkers such as Chimamanda Adichie. The objective? To think deeper about questions that drive leadership in today's hyperconnected, globalized world.

Peter Tufano, Dean of Oxford Saïd, said the leadership series is designed to inspire participants to explore the "why" of the leadership, rather than the "how".

Peter Hair


In this Q&A, Peter Hair tells us why the Oxford-Aspen Leadership Seminar is unique, and how its lessons have shaped his mission to lead with purpose in the public sector.

UBC Sauder: What inspired you to apply for the 2019 Oxford-Aspen Leadership Seminar?

Hair: It’s rare to get the opportunity to attend an exclusive leadership program at a prestigious university. The application process was very selective. This gave me confidence that the seminar would enable me to meet intelligent, aspiring current and future leaders whom I could learn from.

I was encouraged by the high proportion of participants who were doing an executive or part time MBA program while working full time, as this helped bring real-life concepts and applications into the discussions. I felt incredibly privileged to be included in such a knowledgeable and accomplished group.

UBC Sauder: What made this leadership seminar unique?

Hair: This seminar was different in that there were no lectures or presentations, but rather text-based dialogue between the participants. The real value of the seminar was in the diverse experiences, knowledge and intellect brought to the discussion by the participants rather than the content itself.

UBC Sauder: What impact can this leadership seminar have on the business landscape?

I'm confident that the ongoing partnership between Oxford Saïd and the Aspen Institute will be instrumental in the leadership development of many future MBA students. I believe that relationships developed through this seminar will form the foundation for a global network of purpose-driven leaders for many years to come.

In the weeks since returning from the seminar, recollections from our discussions have regularly popped into mind when dealing with a particular issue or conversation. It is amazing how insights drawn from a range of texts written over many eras of history can be so applicable to current issues in our modern society.

UBC Sauder: What are some of the ways in which you plan to lead with purpose?

Hair: Shortly after starting the Professional MBA program at UBC Sauder, I took up a new job in the public sector that provided a new set of challenges and opportunities compared to my previous role as an engineering consultant. Bureaucracy and fear of risk often hinders the ability of public organizations to deliver value to the taxpayer, but I want to pursue opportunities that improve performance, effectiveness and efficiency in delivering essential public services. It takes effective leadership from within an organization to challenge ingrained culture — and this program helped me realize that I can make a difference.

You can read Hair's complete reflection piece on the 2019 Oxford-Aspen Leadership Seminar here.

The Aspen Seminar is an exclusive opportunity open to students of the Global Network for Advanced Management <> member schools.