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Citadel News Service
24 Oct 2007

Service and Leadership: Cadet gains first-hand experience

This in the sixth in an occasional series highlighting the unique educational environment at The Citadel. "Service and Leadership" will profile people and events that exemplify "The Citadel Experience," its leadership laboratory and the college's mission of achieving excellence in the education of principled leaders.

If you ask Cadet Zach Redden about his summer, don’t expect to hear that he spent his days on the beach, slept in or went backpacking in Europe. Instead, he was tearing up the streets of New York City, rubbing elbows with the rich and the powerful on Wall Street.

A business major from Golf Company, Redden is his company’s academic officer, is president of the Finance and Investment Club and is a cadet member of the School of Business Administration Mentors Association. We sat down with Redden recently to talk about his Citadel experience and how the leadership development program has helped him.

Tell us how you spent your summer.

The highlight of the summer was spending time in New York City with fellow senior James Short, networking with alumni and key Wall Street individuals. In a span of eight business days I made cold calls and met with approximately 43 people --from Sallie Krawcheck, chairman and CEO of Citi Group’s Global Wealth Management Division, to alumnus Harvey Schiller, CEO of Global Options Group and president of the International Baseball Organization. I also spent time with working with analysts on the trading floors of Bank of America and Citi Group.

How did your Citadel education help you accomplish so much in so little time?

The ability to plan, schedule, and execute something of this magnitude requires attention to detail, the ability to move fast and be flexible and a high degree of patience. Most importantly you have to maintain professionalism in time-sensitive situations. All of those skills were acquired during my time at The Citadel. I’ve learned that one must adapt and master things like time management and stress management skills, whether it is knob year or eight days on Wall Street.

Cadet Zach Redden is a business major from Golf Company, his company’s academic officer, president of the Finance and Investment Club and a cadet member of the School of Business Administration Mentor’s Association.

You met a lot of leaders in their fields this summer. You probably learned a lot. Tell us what leadership means to you?

Leadership to me means possessing the ability to effectively earn the respect and followership of those individuals around and under your command. This is applicable whether you are in the military, the civilian sector or in the classroom, on a team, or in a club.

What stands out about your leadership development training at The Citadel?

What stands out the most to me is how one must first learn the ability to follow before he or she can learn properly how to lead.  In my time here the biggest obstacles I have observed are getting the other cadets in a company to listen, adhere to, and follow orders--this can only be done by earning their respect. I have seen what other academic officers have done in the past, both good and bad, and learned from them and incorporated that into my style of leadership this year. I have learned that when you justify your reasons and have a way to show and prove your results, the individuals under you will be more likely to perform better and respect you.

How has being in the School of Business Administration’s mentor program helped you?

The mentor program has been great. I was paired with Doug Van Scoy, a retired Smith Barney executive. As he learned more about me, he realized we were alike in many ways. We share common goals, ethics, and relatively similar career aspirations. The program itself has helped me come to the realization that you have to put forth 200 percent effort to get 100 percent return for anything you do. Having a sincere passion for one’s work and a sheer appreciation of those who are willing and able to help you is a must and something very important I have learned.

Describe how you use what you have learned to teach others--either in the battalion through your position in the Corps or through the other activities you are involved in.

I have found that to teach others, one must first establish a solid base for communication. I choose to lead by means of reason and justification. I operate this way because I would rather have the ability to relate to those I am working with and be approachable.

What would you tell prospective cadets or mentor program members about service and principled leadership development at The Citadel?

The Citadel Mentors Association is a group of retired and active top executives from corporate America who are located in the Charleston area. They are committed to sharing their experiences with the next generation of business leaders in the undergraduate and graduate business programs. Click here to learn more. 

I would tell them they are crazy if they did not join the program! We are one of a few schools in the country that provides such a great resource to students. Speaking of my mentor alone, I could not have asked for someone better. He has helped guide me down a path to success and looked after me as one of his own, creating a bond between us that no one can put a price on.

The important thing to note is these individuals in the Charleston community, whether they are alumni or not, want to give back. They do this voluntarily and want to see cadets do well. I believe The Citadel’s alumni network is not used as much as it should be. This summer I spoke with some very successful graduates who told me I was the first cadet to reach out to them for guidance.

Service and principled leadership are what set this school apart. The important difference I noticed this summer was when given a large task and a short deadline, I asked no questions and found a way to get the job finished quickly and correctly while my partner from another school was stressed and anxious and had no clue where to start.

Compare Indiana University--where you transferred from--with The Citadel in terms of what leadership skills you got out of the two institutions.

Here everyone knows everyone, and there is a hierarchy ,whereas at Indiana you could walk down the same street each day and never see a familiar face. The rank structure is very similar to real world situations. By having the privilege to lead others and see how they respond to you, you to learn more about yourself and determine which methods of communication work most effectively. At Indiana you have to be very independent and get things finished on your own. Here cadets learn to work together as a unit to accomplish a goal.

How has your business mentor helped you develop as a cadet, as a cadet leader and as you embark on your career outside of college?

My mentor has been remarkable in giving me many challenges during the time I have known him. He has tasked me with assisting him market his restaurant and he placed me at Citi Group in New York City to network. The easiest thing to do is get your foot in the door; the hardest thing is having something to say once you get in. I had to convince Doug that I had something to say before he put me in contact with his former co-workers at Citi Group. His name and reputation were on the line, and he did not want to tarnish that in any way by sending an unprepared individual into such a prominent place.

My mentor outside of The Citadel, Mr. Von Mickle, ’95, taught me the most valuable thing I have ever learned. During my first summer internship in the Washington, D.C., area I met Mr. Mickle through Brent Stewart, who referred me to him in preparation for my interview with Sallie Krawcheck. Von Mickle told me when I walk into the interview that I should have a goal of building a relationship with someone. I took that advice with me to New York City, and it worked.

Inside the barracks my communication has improved because of Doug. Learning how to speak to important people this summer has taught me how to speak professionally with people of all levels. This ranges from emailing a professor, mentoring a knob, or handling a situation with a classmate.

More Service and Leadership news

Achieving excellence in the education and development of principled leaders
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