Inspiring Change: An Insider’s Look at LEAD Me2We

In this Q&A story, we bring together three remarkable voices to share their insights on the Stanford LEAD Online Business Program and the participant-led, in-person event, Me2We.

March 21, 2024

Stanford LEAD past participants engage in Me2We activities

Hear from Marineh Lalikian, Director of Stanford LEAD; Raphaël Auwerkerken, LEAD Participant, Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, and Me2We Organizer; and Saskia Verraes, LEAD participant, Director of Impact for Proxima Consulting, and Co-Founder of Match4Action, the LEAD-inspired 501(c)(3).

LEAD has been running for almost 10 years. Can you tell us about the program?

Marineh: LEAD is Stanford GSB’s flagship online program and provides a world-class business education taught by senior faculty. It goes beyond just acquiring knowledge — LEAD is about embracing a lifelong learning mindset and empowering individuals to elevate their impact. Leveraging the advantages of online learning, LEAD offers a rigorous curriculum taught through practical application, enabling participants to immediately apply what they learn to their real-world business and leadership challenges. Social learning is fundamental in LEAD, and the program continues to foster enduring connections among its global and diverse participant base. This wealth of perspectives enriches the learning environment and weaves together a vibrant professional community driven by a shared commitment to drive positive change in their lives, their organizations, and the world.

What is Me2We and how has it evolved over the years?

Marineh: Me2We is a vision conceived by members of the first LEAD cohort who wanted to create an event that brought participants from around the world to Stanford and Silicon Valley for three days of networking, learning, reconnecting, and celebrating upon their completion of the program. The inaugural Me2We event in 2016 was nothing short of magical. Despite meeting in person for the first time, there was an instant sense of connection and camaraderie among attendees.

Over the years, Me2We has continued as an annual tradition — created by LEADers, for LEADers. Over 500 past and current LEAD participants from over 60 countries attended the ninth annual event this year.

Who organizes Me2We and what does it entail?

Raphaël: Me2We is a participant-led event. Each year, a Me2We committee of five dedicated individuals is elected by their predecessors and embarks on a nine-month journey of passion and dedication. Our mission is to orchestrate a truly unforgettable Stanford LEAD event. Beyond the main event, we curate a plethora of supplementary activities, including invigorating Jeffersonian dinners and immersive field trips to innovation-driven companies.

Planning an event of this scale is no small feat. Can you tell me more about why you chose to be an organizer of Me2We?

Raphaël: Having forged countless meaningful connections through previous Me2We events, I felt compelled to pay it forward. My aspiration was to foster greater cohesion within the Stanford LEAD community, extending our reach beyond the GSB. By catalyzing interactions and bridging diverse talents, I sought to unlock untapped potential and propel individuals out of their comfort zones.

How would you describe Me2We?

Raphaël: At its core, Me2We embodies the ethos of collaboration and community, uniting individuals in a shared pursuit of growth, impact, and connection. It’s a celebration of insights shared, transformative friendships forged, and collective efforts to catalyze positive change.

Saskia: Me2We is more than an event; it’s a living embodiment of collective wisdom transcending borders, roles, and industries. The vibrant LEAD community comprises diverse minds with a common purpose — learning and embracing change. The palpable positive spirit at Me2We stems from a shared commitment to impact, curiosity, kindness, and a shared dedication to making the most of every moment.

You were a member of the first LEAD cohort and inaugural Me2We. What keeps you coming back year after year?

Saskia: Having attended every Me2We event, with the exception of the COVID years, I’m drawn back each year by the magnetic allure of learning and connecting with diverse individuals at Stanford. Me2We sessions, led by engaging lecturers and fellow LEADers, inspire fresh insights and contribute to a continuous journey of discovery. The dynamic community fosters sustainability advocacy, creating ample opportunities for meaningful conversations.

What surprises you most about Me2We?

Saskia: Me2We is the enchanting alchemy of collaboration where strangers seamlessly transform into allies, sparking ideas and creating solutions. The unscripted magic of unexpected connections and serendipitous moments defies predictability, adding an element of delightful surprise to the entire experience.

Explore More Stories

May 17, 2024

How Thinking like an Artist Can Improve Your Business Decisions

Business decisions need to be purely rational and data-driven, right? Not quite. It turns out emotions play a much bigger role in successful decision-making than we realize.
Insights in Action Baba Shiv
March 22, 2024

Strategic (Re)Thinking: Is Your Approach to Organizational Strategy Holding You Back?

Making your organizational strategy an iterative, evolving priority can help you compete and adapt to rapid change. And conversations and communication may be the key.
Strategic (Re)Thinking
February 08, 2024

Giving Ex-Offenders a Second Chance at Life

Singapore Prison Service official Matthew Wee Yik Keong is transforming how the system rehabilitates inmates and ex-offenders — with the goal of creating a safer, more inclusive society.
Matthew Wee Yik Keong