Saarthak Gaur and his fellow students under a USG tent

Saarthak Gaur has discovered a crucial leadership lesson through his experiences as a Fisher student: how he interacts with others is even more important than he previously realized.

One key experience has been his role as president of the Undergraduate Business Council (UBC), a student organization that works to enhance the undergraduate experience for all Fisher students. The UBC hosts events such as involvement fairs and connects students with organizations that fit their interests.

As he’s led the UBC through the pandemic, Gaur, a double-major in finance and economics, better understands the importance of empathy in leadership.

“While I didn’t necessarily lack empathy for those around me, I realized learning how to fully understand what someone is going through is an incredibly underrated skill,” he said.

Saarthak Gaur
Saarthak Gaur

Gaur recalled a UBC member, who was feeling overwhelmed, approaching him for advice. The exchange left an impression.

At the superficial level, they seemed totally fine so I didn’t completely comprehend their issues,” Gaur said. “It was only after I sat down with them and built a connection based on our own current issues in our lives that I could truly sympathize with them. Consequently, I could better connect with them and help them figure out the right way to start moving in the best direction for themselves.”

Gaur’s work leading the UBC also includes collaborating with the college’s administration to promote undergraduate interests, such as curriculum adjustments designed to help students become even more competitive in the job market.

Lorraine Pennyman, director of leadership and engagement for Fisher’s Undergraduate Leadership and Engagement Office (ULEO), had high praise for Gaur.

I have observed Saarthak develop as an engaged member of Fisher College of Business who is continuously striving for success as a responsible, determined individual with ambitious personality,” she said. “As president of the Undergraduate Business Council, his passionate empathy to enhance and support the Fisher undergraduate student experience is unparalleled. It’s been a joy to watch him grow during his collegiate journey.”

Heading up the UBC has also led to other exciting opportunities, including speaking at the 2020 Fisher Convocation for new students. He’s also involved in the Honors Cohort, Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations  (SCNO) and the Fisher Peer Mentor program.  As SCNO’s vice president of membership, Gaur helps the organization deliver consulting services to local nonprofits at no charge. Students apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom and through their own employment experience to real challenges facing nonprofits. The Peer Mentor program matches first-year students with a third- or fourth-year volunteer mentor at Fisher. Gaur’s role as a peer mentor allows him to meet new students and “enact even greater changer in the Fisher community,” he said.

Saarthak with friends at an Ohio State football game
Gaur and his friends together at an Ohio State football game inside Ohio Stadium prior to the 2020 season

The age of COVID has certainly been a difficult one for Gaur and his classmates to weather, but he has nevertheless witnessed some bright spots, including what he referred to as “the consistency of the human connection.”

“Even when people couldn’t see each other, they found ways to make it work,” he said. “Whether it was through Zoom or through party games like, we as a community figured out ways to bridge the gap. The greatest thing about these ways are that they can be sustained moving forward.”

Gaur believes that when the pandemic ends, people will have even more flexibility in how they work, interact and connect.  

“That kind of self-empowerment, paired with the unparalleled ability to connect others, will hopefully push innovation on all sides, human-centric and product-centric,” he said.

As he’s grown as a leader during what he calls these “stranger times,” Gaur’s relationships with those around him have continually strengthened, and that will have a lasting impact on him as he looks ahead to future leadership experiences.

“Throughout my time in the UBC and the various challenges that come with the organization, it’s always been the relationships I have had with my team that helped us get through the tribulations,” he said. “Having that support system and people to rely on are key to coming up with any solution because any answer will directly impact the team around you.”

Photos courtesy of Saarthak Gaur