My "Open-Mindedness" Led to My Progress
By Geeta Menon, Dean of the Undergraduate College, Abraham Krasnoff Professor of Global Business & Professor of Marketing, NYU Stern School of Business March 11, 2015 12:00 PM
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Geeta Menon, Dean of the Undergraduate College & Abraham Krasnoff Professor of Global Business & Marketing, NYU Stern School of Business, shares her story about the defining characteristic that led to her progress.
I don’t believe that any one particular achievement equals success. Instead, I embrace – and even look forward to – the unexpected opportunities that are inevitable in life. In fact, I’ve found that being open to the unknown is what led to my progress.
I learned this early on growing up in India, where my father was an officer in the Indian Navy. My family moved often, and each time we relocated there was uncertainty: What would my school be like? Who would my friends be? Would I like our new community? This formative experience taught me not to fear the unknown. Instead, being open to new perspectives, I found, is a way to experience new – often thrilling –opportunities.
As I grew older, I continued to apply this way of thinking to milestones along the way. While I had a basic blueprint for my life – college, followed by graduate school, working in a field I enjoyed, having a family – I never laid out the precise details. Instead, I’ve always had faith that everything would eventually fall into place. It has – and more.
I’ve had many experiences during my career that have helped me grow both professionally and personally. For example, I have had the good fortune of working for leading business schools in the United States and India, including NYU Stern, Wharton and Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. I did not identify any of these experiences as goals – I did not even target being in academia. Instead I remained open to circumstances that led me to them. While I have been working on research papers, educating students, and involved in the professional community, I’ve also embraced the many other opportunities that have presented themselves.
Today, as Dean of the NYU Stern Undergraduate College, I hear about new ideas and encounter unexpected opportunities every single day. One of the biggest challenges of holding a leadership position is the constant challenge of adapting to an always evolving environment. But with an open mind, this dynamic workplace is also one of untold opportunity. The advice I give my students at Stern is to find the right balance between focus and open-mindedness: Never be too focused that you don’t hear opportunity knocking on your door!