Leading through hardship: SBGE Distinguished Speaker Luncheon

Dr. Dorothy Nyambi speaks at Seattle Pacific University

David Armour, Staff Writer

On May 10, Seattle Pacific University hosted its annual School of Government, Business and Economics Distinguished Speaker Series Luncheon. For this event, the university asks a person of renown to give a presentation to students enrolled in SBGE to provide inspiration and advice for them moving forwards. This year, Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, CEO of Mennonite Economic Development Associates, gave an address to the students and staff of the university about the value of perseverance and the importance of leadership skills.

For Dr. Ruth Ediger, associate professor of political science, the distinguished speaker event is an opportunity to provide students with growth opportunities.

“This event is essentially an opportunity for the SBGE to bring amazing speakers and practitioners to students and give them a chance to view possible futures in a professional setting,” Ediger said. “Because it’s SBGE, the speakers try to cover the sweet spot between all relevant majors, from accounting to business to PPE. The future of students is important, and we hope to give you professional practice in an official luncheon. Many speakers are brought in, but this one in particular is for the students.”

In her speech, Nyambi stressed that there is never a set path to success, and that life is about finding a way through unexpected challenges.

“I would say that leadership is the knowledge that there is no linear pathway and that obstacles cannot define where you go and how you end up. Depending on who you are and what context you have, things are going to be different,” Nyambi said. “You need to really know who you are over your journey, and I never started off knowing where I was going to end. Nobody knows where they’ll be in 2024, 2026, and it’s up to them to figure out what to do with their circumstances.”

To event co-organizer and third year business and economics major Jenna Gillam, Nyambi was chosen because she would make for an experienced mentor for the students who attended.

“I think that this is an important event for students because they get to learn from a business leader who had a lot of twists and turns in her career. She’s had a lot of experience in her career, and this knowledge will help students with their own experiences down the road,” Gillam said. “I didn’t personally help choose the speaker, but this year, they believed that her values aligned with the university’s and specialized in an important topic for our business classes. We worked really hard to plan this event, and it’s really important for students across campus to learn about the business world.”

SGBE teacher Geri Mason lauded the university’s decision to give Nyambi the spotlight.

“The Distinguished Speaker event is our SBGE community event of the year – we look forward to welcoming a prestigious guest from the community every year to interact with our students and faculty,” Mason said. “Dorothy Nyambi is an amazing woman and the president of MEDA. Her expertise and experience is right at the heart of who we are and what we do in SBGE – promote human flourishing through business, government, and economics.”

The SGBE distinguished speaker luncheon tries to invite someone with experiences related to what they believe students need the most, and this year, it was leadership. As such, Dr. Nyambi was selected, as she has seen leadership as both the leader and the follower from multiple different roles and perspectives.

“I think that there are many skills a leader can have. For me, humility is the most important because you can self-reflect and understand yourself. Courage is also important for any leader, as you need to know when to step up and step out,” Nyambi said. “There are many other skills where you can find yourself in, and it all depends on your context. I’m always feeling inspired by talking with young people, and I think that the world is changing faster and faster. The sky is the limit for your generation, and it’s important to encourage people to start leading now.”