Rachel Badway, a junior with both a business and science background, is not your typical college student. She is also the founder and CEO of Lead Ahead, an innovative and interactive leadership training platform. Upon being competitively selected into the University's Buccino Leadership Institute, Rachel noticed most of her undergraduate peers outside of the program did not have any access to leadership training. Using her passion for leadership, she recruited a team of committed interdisciplinary leaders and brought her vision to life.
As a finance major researching internships and employer expectations, Rachel observed that leadership training was the most in-demand skill across the board. She quickly realized that it was her time in the Buccino Leadership Institute that gave her the advantage over many of the other qualified applicants looking at the same career opportunities.
Buccino Leadership Institute Prepares the Way
In the Institute, she had the opportunity to learn how to pitch ideas and practice professionalism. These were opportunities that were handcrafted for innovative thinkers like her at the direction of Bryan Price, executive director of the Institute, and many of the program's associate directors. Rachel says “becoming a Buccino leadership student was one of the best decisions I ever made” because the executive management of the program encouraged her to achieve her goal of producing a resource for college students with other college students.
Rachel's partner and creative director of Lead Ahead is Robin Schilke, a student in the Institute's CommArts cohort. Within their interdisciplinary team, Robin quickly became Rachel's go-to. While Rachel produced the big ideas and managed the logistics and finances of producing the app, Robin took charge of branding, technological production and outreach. Together they developed the framework for the project and distributed responsibilities to the team. Lead Ahead functions as a professional training platform by providing students with a series of modules supplemented with focus questions and reflection opportunities. These modules include presentations on how to meet with employers, how to interact in the workplace, and a series of other professional skills.
Collegiate Pirates Pitch Finalists
Rachel and Robin were selected as a finalist team for the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Pirate's Pitch collegiate contest, putting their idea in front of a panel of judges to gauge interest and seek financial investments. After presenting a solid proposal, the dynamic duo went on to receive additional training from the Entrepreneurial Center through its Prate's Launchpad Summer Accelerator Program.
First Round Competitors of CEO Startup Contest
The two also entered a competition for Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO), hosted by the University of Tampa. CEO is the largest collegiate student entrepreneur organization in the U.S. and internationally. In the top-third of all entries, the team will go on to represent Seton Hall against entrepreneurial programs across the country.
The Lead Ahead app is expected to launch in Spring 2022, and the goal is for universities to invest in the app so that all of their students have equal opportunity and access to the leadership training.