Channeling Wisdom: Brian Balduzzi, MBA Candidate, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at the Johnson School of Management

Brian is a first-year MBA candidate, Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow, and Environmental Finance & Impact Investing Fellow at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University (the “Johnson School of Management”). There, he is Co-VP of Capital Markets & Asset Management for Old Ezra Finance Club, VP of Academics for Ethics Action Group, VP of Alumni & Corporate Relations for Out4Business, and Editor-in-Chief of the Cornell Business Journal. He is pursuing a career in Private Wealth Management with a focus on the intersection of law, finance, tax, philanthropy, and social impact investing.

About Brian: Brian is a former YNPN Boston Ambassador and former Board Member for SpeakOUT, Weston Friendly Society of Performing Arts, and Mass. LGBTQ Bar Association. He has also served on committees for Fenway Health, The Umbrella Center for Performing Arts, and Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies. Brian is a proud JD and Tax LLM graduate of Boston University School of Law, where he served as Co-President of the Public Interest Project and Student Director for the Esdaile Moot Court.

In addition to pursuing his MBA, Brian currently works as a Tax and Business Law Adjunct Professor for Southern New Hampshire University, and Founder and Managing Editor for ArtsImpulse, a Greater Boston theatre reviewing and consulting organization. He is committed to opportunities engaging with community development, especially in the LGBTQ, education, and arts spaces.

We asked Brian to share the nonprofit leadership wisdom he has gained over his career.

What is your leadership style?

My leadership style is to empower and motivate team members and stakeholders by organizing them around thoughtful, action-oriented goals. I seek opportunities for creative and ethical problem-solving and personal and professional growth to establish a more purposeful, sustainable, and accountable organizations and teams.

I identified this style through serving on multiple nonprofit board and by founding ArtsImpulse, a Greater Boston theatre reviewing and consulting organization. In addition, as a first-year MBA candidate, I have had the opportunity to participate in leadership coursework and collaborative team projects.

This definition of leadership has aided me in becoming a more meaningful, thoughtful, and impactful leader and member of diverse nonprofit organizations and teams. Moreover, it has helped me adapt to personal and professional changes in the past year, as I moved from Boston to Ithaca, returned to graduate school, and reflected on my leadership style and non-profit engagement and participation.

Can you share an example of a time when you successfully led a team through a challenging time or scenario?

I led a team for the Johnson School of Management’s final case competition, which analyzed the future profitability and strategic planning for Boston Beer Company. Though we lost a team member, we successfully created a PowerPoint and Excel presentation to present to faculty. We combined multiple perspectives from our team and I coordinated schedules, project management and flow, and team deliverables. While the project and presentation could have used more time, I was proud of the way that we pulled together under stressful circumstances, and I was proud of my leadership in managing conflicting personalities.

How did your experience volunteering with YNPN Boston prepare you for your current leadership role?

YNPN Boston is a unique organization that brings together young professionals from a diverse background of experiences and industries within the nonprofit sector. My experience volunteering with YNPN Boston allowed me to flex my leadership muscles, develop communication skills within a team and across the organization, learn best practices from educated team members, and impact an evolving organization.

What advice do you have for nonprofit professionals trying to build their leadership?

Young professionals should begin leading committees and projects early in their careers, which will allow young professionals to both practice and refine their leadership styles and skills and also shadow and learn from more experienced leaders.

What leadership resources have you found useful?

I have found the leadership coursework and Roy H. Park Leadership Fellowship curriculum at the Johnson School of Management to be valuable in my growth as a project and team leader. By reflecting upon my leadership style, engaging with other committed student leaders, and participating with industry professionals in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, I have become a more empathetic, reflective, and informed leader.

How has the nonprofit landscape changed since you started working in it? What skills will emerging leaders need that weren't in demand when you first started?

Technology, especially social media, is the first thing that comes to mind. I see a number of new technological resources that make nonprofits’ work easier, but require onboarding and training. Emerging leaders must master new technological opportunities, and learn how to engage the rest of their membership and team as active participants.

Another more subtle change has been the changing identity of key stakeholders in nonprofits. The donor and volunteer base is slowing changing, and, thus, the best approaches for engaging these stakeholders is also evolving. The organizations who have embraced these changes have been the most successful, both in the short-term, and potentially in the long-term. Emerging leaders will need to think more creatively, intuitively, and reflectively about who will benefit, who wants to be engaged, and how to include each of these groups in new, strategic ways. 

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