Admissions Blog

Leadership, Innovation, and Design Specialization: Davira’s Experience

By Davira Chairunnisa '24
Posted Jan 23 2024


Leadership, Innovation, and Design (LID) is a very popular specialization among SIPA students. The program has been specifically created for students eager to work as leaders of large organizations or institutions, advisors and consultants to these leaders, or entrepreneurs of startups that address important social needs. The LID curriculum offers the theoretical foundations and real-world application of knowledge needed to be a leader. There are many different courses offered by the specialization, which are broken down into three spectrums: Design and Impact Measurement, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Leadership and Management. To fulfill the specialization requirement, students need to complete courses for a total of 9 points, 3 options of 3.0 credit courses, or a combination of 1.5 and 3.0 credit courses.

I decided to take LID as my second specialization, as the courses helped me to fulfill my competency gap in becoming a nonprofit leader back in Indonesia. Throughout the past semesters, I have completed 9 points consisting of 3-3.0 credit courses, and I would like to share my experiences taking amazing LID classes.

1. Scale Up Ventures: Growing a Business Outside of Silicon Valley with Professor Fernando Fabre (Spring)

I took this class in my second semester of SIPA. The class was enjoyable, the combination of theory and practice was good, and the workload was quite average. The class approaches the world of scaleups from two distinct angles. First, using a bottom-up approach that requires us to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. The second is the top-down strategy, in which we must adopt an ecosystem-building mindset. At the end of the classes, we were divided into groups. My group task was to identify potential venture capital that would support a healthy food catering business. As someone who has no venture capital background, I found the group project helped me to understand the venture capital world practically.

2. Storytelling and The Art of Creating Social Impact Campaigns with Professor Stephen Friedman (Fall and Spring)

The Storytelling and the Art of Creating Social Impact Class is a seminar and led-based discussion class. With a class size of less than 20 students, this course looks at all the aspects of social impact projects that compel audiences to act through effective storytelling. I can say it’s a very practical class. During the class, we investigated how businesses and brands design campaigns and work with government agencies, foundations, and non-governmental organizations. For example, we examined why George Floyd's murder dramatically slowed the pace of policy and cultural change after innumerable videos of police brutality. Another example is assessing how a TV show ends up playing a major role in bringing teen pregnancy to its lowest point in history, despite years of campaigns to do so.

A big aspect of the class is the group project. At the beginning of the class, we needed to choose a specific topic to create a campaign based on what we learned in class throughout the semester. In the last two sessions of classes, every group presented the campaign idea and received feedback from the professor and other classmates. I also appreciated that the class enabled us to visit the Paramount Global Office in Times Square, as you can see from the photo above! We had a discussion directly with Chris McCarthy, President and CEO of Paramount Media Networks, and also the MTV social impact team to understand how MTV develops content and aligns it with its social impact purpose. 

3. Impact Measurement and Management - Professor Courtney Sara Minard (Fall)

This is a new class in SIPA that just started in Fall 2023. Professor Minard is very energetic and attentive, always starting the class with a 10-minute meditation, which I felt was a very impactful movement. The class discussed how Impact Measurement and Management (IMM) will help investors understand a company's intention to produce positive outcomes and impacts, as well as the evidence the company uses to show whether or not the impact, value, or benefit is being created, and more importantly, how the impact is improving the environment and the lives of stakeholders.

Throughout the course, guest speakers from impact areas joined the class virtually, sharing knowledge based on their experiences as impact practitioners. The class required us to team up as a group for a final project, in which we needed to choose a market-based company and investigate its impact. We presented our findings at the end of the class sessions, receiving feedback from the professor and impact practitioners as the judges.

If you are keen to work as a leader in an organization, LID courses will be beneficial for you. Being a part of LID has been one of my most favorite experiences at SIPA. Also, keep in mind some students also take LID as their second specialization (it’s very feasible!). Enjoy the courses!