Purpose. Passion. Principles. The “P3” Program at Wharton

P3 is a unique leadership program developed at Wharton and is growing in popularity and strength.

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The feedback left us dumbfounded.  98% of participants would recommend P3 to a classmate.  One student wrote, “I was totally blown away by how meaningful the experience was and how close I feel to my P3 group.”  Another said that “[P3] was one of my most powerful experiences at Wharton.  I started realizing there are a lot of tools and data out there about success and happiness, and I intend to become a life-long student of these materials.”  As we shared the feedback with the future leaders of the program, Justin Cohan-Shapiro, Caitlyn Fox (both WG’14), Leadership Office Director Lynn Krage and Legal Studies Professor G. Richard Shell and I couldn’t help but marvel at how far we’d come in a year.  P3 has continued to expand, and we’re excited about the level of student interest.

How It Started

Wharton students have a long history of building strong communities and reflecting on their personal and professional lives, but P3 may be the first effort to combine and structure the two.  The idea came from Ms. Krage, who knew of my work building leadership discussion groups, and who saw how much Justin and his peers enjoyed helping Professor Shell revise a manuscript on the way people think about success.  And so at a lunch Lynn hosted in April 2013, P3 was born.  Seven other students joined our founding team, and we spent that summer and early fall working with Professor Shell and Professor Stew Friedman (originator of Total Leadership) on a curriculum to help students develop as authentic leaders.

How It Works

P3 brings together small groups of students for a series of authentic conversations about how they define success in their personal and professional lives.  Students commit to meeting once per week and during nine weeks explore where they came from, who they are today, where they’re trying to go, and how they can align their daily choices with their goals for personal and professional success.  At the heart of these conversations are exercises and passages from experts such as Professors Friedman and Shell, along with editorials and other works that catalyze discussion.  Each P3 group is organized by a student facilitator, who went through the program before, and who helps the group discern its goals and norms for the semester.  P3 is available to full time MBAs in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and we have experimented with ways to enfranchise Executive MBAs, undergraduates, Penn Law students, and P3 alumni around the world.

Who is Leading It

P3 is unique in that it is entirely student initiated and student led.  Our current steering committee is comprised of 2nd years Rada Yovovich, Jackie Kier, Elyse Lipman and me, and we are lucky to work in close partnership with Ms. Krage, Professors Shell and Friedman, and a passionate group of 15 facilitators.  MBA Career Management played a big role in our initial planning, and we’ve been pleased to see the interest in the program from applicants to the school as well as Businessweek and Clear Admit.

What’s In It For You

While the program’s goal is to help students understand how they define and achieve success in their personal and professional lives, what students love about it seems to vary.  Jackie Kier said, “P3 provided a formalized space for introspection. It allowed me to check-in with myself and my goals and to rigorously explore, clarify, and refine my own purpose.”  Elyse Lipman added that, “P3 introduced me to a set of individuals at school that I would not otherwise have met. Unlike my other friends, I got to know this group on a deep and personal level – forming truly unique relationships.”  And as Rada explained,

“Wharton students are extremely good at presenting a polished front — at presenting a facade of knowing exactly who we are and what we want. P3 is an opportunity for authentic vulnerability — we finally get to be honest about our uncertainties. The group is supportive and invested in helping one another understand the ways our passions and principles inform our professional purposes.”

While P3 was born out of the vision and dedication of a few, its success reflects the commitment of many – namely, the Wharton students who have thus far participated in and pledged their support for the program.  As P3 launches forward, its goal remains simple: to facilitate the structure and community of support for Wharton students to tackle some of life’s biggest questions.  It’s not an easy task, but we’re excited to see where it takes us.


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