Rob Garris, the Schwarzman Scholars Global Director of Admissions, writes:
Looking through more than 3,000 applications from 135 countries last month, it was hard to believe that only a year had passed since we launched the global recruiting and admissions process for Schwarzman Scholars. From its earliest inception, Schwarzman Scholars was conceived as a program to develop the next generation of leaders, and our thinking about how to recruit and select those young leaders came into sharp definition in the fall of 2014. We agreed that leadership is rooted in certain personal characteristics that could be demonstrated through the early accomplishments of our applicants, and that traditional admissions tools like test scores and transcripts would not paint a full enough picture. A talented group of advisors worked with us to craft an application that would help candidates convey personal attributes that supported their success and made them leaders.
As we read applications in October, it became clear that we were on the right track. The information was there to help us spot candidates who have an inclination and a talent for leadership. We could see that many candidates had the analytical skills and intellect to understand a problem and conceive of a solution; the ability to inspire others to help them create change; and the determination and perseverance to stick to a problem when solutions didn’t come easily. Nonetheless, it was challenging to decide between so many qualified candidates. This first round of reading sharpened our skills at identifying future leaders and generated ideas for improving our process in the future, and I’m sure we’ll learn even from the interviews taking place this month in Beijing, Bangkok, London and New York. The interview panelists are high-level people from business, politics, academia, and the non-profit world, all with deep experience assessing young talent and leadership potential.
In face-to-face conversation with candidates, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of their experiences and potential. Leadership potential, motivation, and character are often easier to spot in person than on paper. I’m certain that our learning process will continue, not just in the November interviews, but each year as our search for young leaders evolves.
It’s been an exhilarating month so far, reading leadership stories from Japan to Mexico, and from South Africa to Sweden, and I’m even more excited to be meeting these future leaders face to face. It’s hard to believe we have only a few weeks to go, and even more difficult decisions to make, before we send notices to the first cohort of Schwarzman Scholars. But that exciting moment is less than a month away.