Leadership Academy Senior Spotlight: Zan Syed

Leadership Academy Scholar
Mon Feb 11, 2019

The practice of medicine is really changing, and the physicians of tomorrow will need to be both highly competent and skilled communicators, qualities Leadership Academy senior Zan Syed possesses. Syed’s “passionate, funny, and relaxed” personality instantly puts people at ease and his ability to be “selfless and egoless within a group” not only maximizes the group’s potential, but it also brings out the best in each individual. Syed joined the Leadership Academy in 2017 as a junior and has been able to build on his natural skills, growing as a student, scholar, and leader.


Question: What do you think makes a good leader?


Syed: I think that a good leader has to be passionate and really care about what they do in order to accomplish tasks.They must be able to communicate effectively with different kinds of people and diverse teams. Everyone approaches tasks differently, and successful leaders can read people tactfully in order to give them the best support to help them accomplish the task.


Q: What do you think makes you a good leader?


Syed: I believe I am very adaptable and can think on my feet when a situation needs improvisation. I use my adaptability to work around obstacles and maintain relationships. I am also very charismatic and love developing relationships with people both in a working environment and non-working environment. I also have a certain amount of emotional awareness that allows me to know when a situation is off and respond in a beneficial way for those I am leading.


Q: How have you changed since joining the Leadership Academy? What has the Academy meant to you?


Syed: The Academy really sharpened my professional skills by putting me into an environment with like-minded students. Everyone in the Academy is brilliant and I have been stunned by how we all learn from each other; last year I learned a lot from the seniors, and now this year I have learned so much from the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. The Academy has also helped me eliminate bad habits such as creating stressful time windows by putting off work.  Now I know what my priorities are and finish things in the proper order.


Q: What piece of advice would you like to share with people going through hard times?


Syed: When you go through a hard time, you have to understand that you are not alone; people around you struggle with similar things because no one can live a perfect life forever. But with that being said, bad times end and as you experience these phases of life you need to make the most of your situation.


No matter the situation, Syed uses his natural energy to find ways to make the most of every interaction and relationship within his life:

“I am very adaptable and I don’t feel uncomfortable in new situations because I have come to realize that at the end of the day you are dealing with humans, and if you are courteous, respectful, and easy going, you can bring people up with your own positivity, which is what life and leadership are all about.”

We will miss Syed when he leaves Illinois Tech to pursue the next steps in his life.  His energy is contagious and he has clearly made his mark on the campus community.



Photo courtesy of Illinois Tech Leadership Academy



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Appears in
2019 - Spring - Issue 2