A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

UCR Places High in National Leadership Competition

Up against 100 teams, School of Business students compete very well at the Collegiate Leadership Competition
By Laurie McLaughlin |
Building a domino chain using 400 dominos within 35 minutes

When Victoria Alvarado ’24 was contemplating participation in the Collegiate Leadership Competition, she knew it would add to her commitments and take up much of her time while finishing the final 21 units of bachelor’s degree, but she decided to go for it.

“As I read the details of the competition, I knew this would be an incredible opportunity to refine and develop my leadership skills,” says Alvarado, who is concentrating in management with a minor in psychology. She got that experience and more.

“I aspire to help, lead, and support individuals, and this competition taught me crucial skills toward reaching my goals and fueling my purpose, my ‘why,’” adds Alvarado.

The Collegiate Leadership Competition “allows top business students from around the globe to practice leadership through challenging and often, seemingly, impossible tasks,” according to the competition’s organizers. For example, one of the many tasks, called “Chain Reaction,” requires team members to choose a leader to guide the participants to build a 400-piece domino chain, within 35 minutes, that falls with one domino tip. Each team’s chain must also connect with fellow teams’ chains. Judges evaluate both the leader’s performance and teamwork for each task and assign points.

A multitude of university teams from the United States and Canada competed in two contests: the March U.S. Invitational at John Caroll University in Ohio—where the UCR team placed fourth overall—and a Global Challenge competition held online in April with UCR placing fifth overall, an impressive showing for UCR’s inaugural team to the competition, as they rose above other schools, including the U.S. Air Force Academy, Brock University, John Carroll University, Old Dominion University, St. Francis Xavier University, University of Delaware, and University of North Texas.

Replicating the picture of a bird using sticky notes

Along with Alvarado, the UCR School of Business undergraduate team members were German Partida ’24, Pooja Patel ’24, Ana Perez ’24, Shamika Singh ’24, Student Coach Rich Solano ’24, and Ethan Vuong ’24.

“I’m immensely proud of these seven remarkable individuals who stepped forward to represent UCR,” says Kyle Ingram, assistant professor of teaching in management and the team’s coach.

“Their willingness to invest their time and talents in the competition process showcased the best of our business school.”

During the 10 weeks of preparation, including weekly coaching sessions, “I watched a transformation that went beyond skill enhancement. It was a profound evolution of perspective and unity,” adds Ingram.

“As our team prepared for the competition, they learned to see their vulnerabilities not as weaknesses but as invaluable strengths. This shift turned each session into a steppingstone, building trust and resilience.”

Alvarado’s experience reflects Ingram’s observations: “Vulnerability helped us grow closer as a team and allowed us to understand one another and find comfort in our team when stressors arose. We achieved this by regularly participating in exercises like grounding, one-on-ones, and sharing personal experiences, weaknesses, and strengths.

“The exercises were challenging because the conversations were not light, and opening up to a group of strangers initially was not easy. But, without this component, our team would not have been the same.”

From a practical standpoint, Alvarado encourages other students to seize the opportunity to compete in the many competitions the School of Business and the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management take part in. Not only are the immediate benefits and lessons valuable, she adds, but “it is a great experience to add to resumes and attract attention, allowing for networking and further personal development.”

Ingram’s pride in the team’s performance is palpable, and he says, “They embraced each challenge with open arms, proving that true leadership flourishes when we harness our vulnerabilities to forge unbreakable bonds.” He is recruiting a team for the 2025 Collegiate Leadership Competition this fall, and coaching will begin in the winter quarter.

Spending quality time together as a team during lunch at the competition



Header image: (right to left) back row: Prof. Kyle Ingram, Rich Solano, Ana Perez, German Partida, and Ethan Vuong. Front row: Shamika Singh, Victoria Alvarado