Published 06/30/17

Author/journalist Harriet Rubin offers perspective at crossroads of art, society, business, leadership

Author, editor and journalist Harriet Rubin spent a week this spring partnering with faculty to bring her unique experience to their classes and discuss art, society, business and leadership with students. Bringing a lifetime of experience mixing business and the creative arts to campus, she inspired students to achieve big goals and helped them identify the tools they need to do so.

“I think the Bryant students are standouts – in their focus, in their sense of what they can do, and in the sort of work they can do."

“There is a maturity here that I’ve noticed in the students, and an unambiguous desire for success,” says Rubin, senior writer and columnist for Fast Company and the author of the international bestseller The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women. “They seem to be thinking about how they can make their lives most useful to the world at large. There’s something about the Bryant culture that encourages the expression of that.

“I think the Bryant students are standouts — in their focus, in their sense of what they can do, and in the sort of work they can do,” she said.

Rubin was at Bryant as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, a program offered through the Council of Independent Colleges.

The drive to be the best

Throughout the week, Rubin visited courses ranging from a history class on trends in modern thought to a management class on power and influence. In a Marketing for Competitive Advantage class, she discussed the concept of "competitive edge” and explored how companies like Apple and Google strive to reverse-engineer why their strategies worked and discover the “secret recipe for success.”

“Harriet Rubin’s visit definitely made an impression on the students,” says Associate Professor of Marketing and Global Supply Chain Management Michael J. Gravier, Ph.D. “She helped them understand how so many companies strive to be the best, and why only a few succeed.”

Inspiring others

Rubin also aided The Workshop in Creative and Critical Practices students with developing their artist statements. Using her expertise in editing and writing, she helped them explore their goals and identity as artists.

“Harriet guided the students to think through how to talk about how and why they create,” says English and Cultural Studies Professor Terri Hasseler. “She asked students powerful questions about their lives and the motivations behind their work as artists, musicians, performers. The class learned so much just watching her work through the examples. It was a really fantastic opportunity.”

It was amazing how she was so invested in my work after just meeting us,” says Nicholas Wilkinson ’19, one of Hasseler’s students. “She’s passionate about her work and wanting people to be invested and confident in their work. Her guidance helped give me a clearer vision and direction for who I am as an artist and what that means for my future." 

Rubin spoke to the entire first-year class as part of their Global Foundations of Character and Leadership course, an element of Bryant’s award-winning First-Year Gateway Program, as well. She shared advice and anecdotes from her past and discussed what it means to grow as a leader and how to start a career after college.

“It’s been an astonishing week. I don’t want to leave,” she told the crowd. “Looking at the future in this auditorium just fills me with hope and pride.”