April 12, 2017

Impact of leadership program felt in Brazil

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – When a group of Brazilian college students found their way into an engineering leadership program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Bruce DeRuntz could not have anticipated the impact the program and the students would have on that country.

DeRuntz, professor of technology at SIU and director of the College of Engineering’s Leadership Development Program, recently returned from a trip to Brazil, where he gave a talk and met with his former students, who are now on a quest to transform their country.

Of the 100 Brazilian students who studied in the college during the 2014-15 academic year, six participated in the leadership program.

The SIU Leadership Development Program was founded in 2006 by Dick Blaudow, an engineering alumnus and chairman of the board of Advanced Technology Services based in Peoria. Blaudow along with his wife, Brigitte, established the program as a way to help develop the next generation of America’s technical leaders.

The program is designed to mold students into future executive leaders of industry by providing them with leadership training, mentoring and community service opportunities. Students also have the opportunity to complete a summer internship program with corporate sponsors.

DeRuntz said the Brazilian students developed a deep passion for leadership when they saw how it could transform lives.

“They took this knowledge and passion back to Brazil and began teaching leadership to both college students and business,” DeRuntz said.

DeRuntz visited with his former students in Brazil during at their Leadership Experience Day at Juiz de Fora Federal University in Juiz de Fora, which is located in the southeastern part of the country.

DeRuntz gave the keynote presentation, while former SIU students gave presentations on other leadership topics, including self-leadership and the science of teamwork.

“The workshop attracted enough interest to sell-out UFJF’s 210-seat university auditorium during the middle of their summer break,” DeRuntz said. “It not only attracted students, but also some of the largest employers in the area who desired to learn more about leadership.”

Diogo Seixas was one of the presenters and SIU alumni presenting. He recalled what he learned in the LDP at SIU and said it inspired him to bring those lessons to his home country.

“Through the LDP, I started to learn more and more about leadership and became more interested,” he said. “I started to read and pay attention to people's behavior. I noticed how much my friends had grown in the program and how much I was changing.”

DeRuntz said he was proud to witness his former students’ progress in becoming industry leaders in their home country. Watching them perform, he said he knew the teacher was now learning from his students.

“I was most impressed to see how my fledgling students have blossomed into articulate and engaging presenters who inspired the entire audience to see and believe how each of them can become the leader they always dreamed of becoming,” DeRuntz said. “Even though the presentations were in Portuguese, I could easily read their body language and see how the audience was locked on their every word and almost pushed each other out of the way to participate.”