Leadership Junior Kyle Packnick Attends McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference at West Point


Top: Kyle Packnick (right) with teammate at MCLC. Botton: Kyle Packnick (third from right) with Conference team.

Written by: Kyle Packnick

I had the privilege of representing Seton Hall University at the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference (MCLC) this past week (April 16-19). In total, 82 student fellows, ranging from 21 national Universities and 13 different countries, came together for the opportunity of a lifetime to develop our leadership abilities. I was honestly skeptical about how much I would be able to grow as a leader through a “conference,” especially given the short time-frame. Yet after day one, I began to understand the magnitude of the opportunity I had been granted.

Our first day consisted of a dinner at the legendary Mess Hall, sitting in on a performance with the West Point Band, and Cohort Building exercises to gain comradery and familiarity with our fellow leaders. These exercises consisted of interacting in small groups, choosing sides on controversial topics, and sharing our background and beliefs. I gained a deeper appreciation for my fellow cohorts through their vulnerability. I am grateful because this encouraged me to interact with many of the remarkable leaders and create lasting relationships in a matter of four days.

The remainder of the conference was centered around discussion of four major global issues: Education, Economy, Connectedness, and Stewardship. Speakers from each of these four areas presented on their experience and provided solutions to these global matters, before opening up the floor to questions. These established leaders included the President of Miami University, Strategic Partner at Facebook, Screenwriter and Director of Braveheart, Founder of the Wounded Warrior Project, Chairman of the Board for Beijing for the Hualian Group, Founder of LEAP Africa, and many other notable figures.

Group breakout sessions followed each topic discussion. Each group consisted of seven student-fellows and one keynote speaker. We were given the task of preparing an Op-ed for the New York Times on one of the four global matters. My group’s facilitator was Tom Tierney, the former CEO of Bain & Company and founder of the Bridgespan Group.

We approached the topic of stewardship through a generational lens, considering what makes our generation unique. Initially, we were extremely critical of our generation, using words like “entitled” and “judgmental” to describe ourselves. As we further examined the millennial generation, we recognized that our way of life is what gives us the potential to become the greatest stewards our world has ever had. Our Op-ed, #Selfie or #Selfless? – Stewardship for Millennials, will be featured in New York Times in Leadership next month.

West Point left an impression on me that I could not have otherwise comprehended, if I did not experience it for myself. The structure and discipline of the Faculty and Cadets is apparent to anyone who has the privilege of visiting West Point. I have a new appreciation for the army and all of those who serve our country. The MCLC was a transformational experience for me. Being surrounded by the distinguished leaders of today and future leaders of tomorrow gave me a greater understanding of where I can grow as a leader. It has inspired me to become an “intentional” leader, one that works towards becoming the best possible version of one’s self. I have my own set of values and my own definition for success. It is what distinguishes me from other leaders. I plan to embrace this values-based leadership style that I have discovered. I recognize my potential and I plan to exceed my own expectations. I plan to one day be given another chance to attend the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference. Only the next time, it will be as an established leader.

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