In school and at work, DSF Alumnus Bryant Burciaga challenges himself to become a better leader. After graduating from CEC Middle College of Denver in 2011, Bryant matriculated to the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance, management, and marketing in 2015. Recently, his sense of adventure has taken him all the way to London, England where he is currently on a six-month assignment working as a technology analyst for Janus Henderson Investors, a global asset management company. During his time abroad he hopes to hike, drive, and explore at least 15 different European countries.
Bryant believes there are many attributes that make an effective leader, but three key traits really stick out to him. One trait he strives to embody is adaptability, and “having a growth mindset, being flexible and seeking progress over perfection.” He remembers a time in college when a member in a group project was not doing their part. Instead of complaining, he picked up the slack and got the job done. He also recalled a time in his current job when a system kept failing. Everyone acknowledged that the system no longer worked, so he took it on headfirst and reverse-engineered a solution.
Another key attribute that Bryant employs is empathy. Bryant believes everyone should be able to “put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand where others may be coming from.” Because DSF Scholars come from so many different backgrounds, it can be hard to relate to one another. Yet this is essential in any functional organization, from the classroom all the way to the boardroom.
Bryant also believes that every leader must have a strong sense of self. He says that people often have different personas in their professional and personal worlds: a “Work-Me” and a “Real-Me”. The “Work-Me” tends to be a more bland version of an individual’s personality, because they might be afraid to share their true personality. He says being a great leader is about “understanding who you really are, what you stand for, why you do what you do, and be able to communicate that effectively.” This comes from truly knowing yourself, and then developing the confidence to show that to the world.
Bryant understands the importance of a college education in developing good leaders. He was able to attend college in part because of the DSF Scholarship, and his college experience helped him learn some vital lessons. Chief among them are the ability to seek assistance, and the ability to accept and embrace failure.
Asking for help can be difficult, but it is paramount in both the academic and business worlds. During college, that means going to office hours and tutoring sessions whenever possible. Now, as an adult in the business world, Bryant says it means asking a lot of questions so he understands what needs to be done. This is not limited to entry-level employees; Bryant said even the top-level executives in his office constantly ask questions so they can be better prepared to deal with whatever issues arise.
As for embracing failure, Bryant believes “college is this really amazing time period where you are allowed to fail as much as you want… This allows you to experiment and experience new things that you otherwise might never do.”
Since his graduation in 2015, Bryant has been a model DFS Alumnus. He has been a part of the Alumni Advisory Committee for two years, and presented at the Annual Gala and Leadership Conference. He gives back to DSF because he feels that it is important to “keep re-contributing to the ecosystem that is the Scholars and Alumni to keep making the efforts of the organization even better.”
Bryant also recognizes that some students have a difficult path in order to be successful as a DSF Scholar, but that path helps create a well-rounded student and a better person.
“Many of us come from backgrounds where it is a struggle and an uphill battle to get to college or some form of postsecondary education.” These Scholars, like Bryant, can use that struggle to propel themselves to success, creating strong, adaptable, gritty leaders in the process. “We recognize our roots, but also know where we can go,” Bryant says.