Divya Narendra, Co-Founder of ConnectU, Praises Perseverance

Divya K. Narendra ’04, featured in “The Social Network” alongside the Winklevoss twins as they sued the founder of Facebook, emphasized the importance of perseverance at a conference at Harvard Medical School last Saturday.

Narendra, who created a site where investors can share financial recommendations, encouraged audience members to take risks even if they felt apprehensive about their relative inexperience.

“You don’t have a lot of experience, but you have big ideas. So convincing yourself it’s time to launch a business can be daunting,” he said. “But I think the end result is worth the risk.”

Still, when asked if he had any regrets from college, he had one to name: “I wish I was a programmer.”

The Negotiation and Leadership Conference, at which Narendra spoke, held by the Harvard Extension Service and Leadership Society, a group that made headlines for holding a conference earlier this month featuring speakers who had made alleged Islamophobic and homophobic remarks.

Saturday’s conference sought to discuss what—beyond book smarts—it takes to make a great leader.

“Academic intelligence offers little to no preparation for the vicissitudes of life,” said Nigel Clarke, a panelist at the conference and the CEO of Facey Commodity Company, a distribution company based in Jamaica.

Andre E. Bisasor, the chair of the conference, echoed Clarke’s remarks.

“In an academic environment, we tend to look at IQ as a primary way to predict success. So when you look at social and emotional intelligence, those are elements that very smart people are sometimes unable to grasp and be successful in leadership,” he said.

Attendees expressed satisfaction with the conference, which featured two panels focusing on spiritual, emotional, and social intelligence and one on young, emerging entrepreneurs.

“I’m actually working on some charity projects right now, where you need to be able to negotiate, to convince people that you are doing something worthwhile for the community,” said Gopi Manchineella, who attended the conference.

Harvard Extension Student Association President Philip Harding called the conference “fantastic.”

“The emerging leaders panel hits home to where I am right now,” he said.

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