September 28, 2017

On Tuesday, September 26, Leadership Greater Washington welcomed members and guests to PNC Place for the return of the Lessons in Leadership series featuring Dr. Ángel Cabrera, President of George Mason University, Virginia’s largest public university.

George Mason today operates several campuses across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region and is one of the 115 universities in the U.S. selected for the highest research category of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Before becoming Mason’s president in 2012, Dr. Cabrera led IE Business School in Madrid, and Thunderbird School of Global Management, now affiliated with Arizona State University. He is the first native of Spain to have served as president of an American university.

Richard Bynum ('13) of PNC - our gracious host and sponsor for the series – facilitated an engaging and honest conversation that provided guests with an in-depth look at Dr. Cabrera’s executive approach to mission-driven work and the intersection of diversity and business in the pursuit of a progressive and profitable organization. 

A driving force behind Dr. Cabrera's professional success in education and business is his ability to prioritize the organization’s mission and values behind specific leadership strategies. Throughout his accomplished career, Ángel has held firm to value systems and also continues to incorporate humility into his business practices as a way to drive teamwork and create the best learning opportunities for everyone he oversees. 

 “The key is whether your personal sense of ambition is balanced with helping students, faculty, and staff to be the best they can be.  Every time I make a choice, I typically ask myself two questions: 
1. Am I going to learn? 
2. Can I make a difference? " 

Dr. Cabrera’s fresh approach to assembling a successful team in business and academia is rooted in his support for a diverse team of leaders. Not only is diversity an important component to a well-balanced team, but diversity also mitigates risk. By incorporating unique voices and providing a professional a platform for talented individuals from all experiences, businesses have the potential for success, and an executive leader is also better able to understand the complete picture of what the organization stands for and its earning potential. 

“George Mason’s executive team has a lot of diversity, from all sectors. You need to have people in the room who are smarter than you, individuals with a deeper understanding of risk, reward and who specialize in different areas of expertise.  Leaders must consistently articulate the mission and the purpose. Your job isn’t to be the smartest person in the room. The job that no one else can do but me is to remind the team what we are about, carrying out the mission.” 

While Dr. Cabrera’s day to day role involves leading an executive team within the George Mason administration, he also stays connected to the university’s large student body. Social media has helped Dr. Cabrera gain a sense of what students and employees are talking about every day, their interests, and campus concerns. This fall, George Mason accepted the largest and most diverse incoming class of students.

Lessons in Leadership attendees left the conversation not only energized but inspired by Dr. Cabrera's reflections on his own leadership path and advice for LGW Members as they continue to create positive impact and influence the region. Thank you, Dr. Cabrera, for sharing your knowledge and refreshing insights on leadership as you continue to lead George Mason, an institution on the forefront of higher education, inclusion, and innovation. 

View photos from the event here