Class of 2014
Marlborough, United Kingdom
James Lloyd may love the joy of "intellectual duels," but his real epiphany came when the slim Englishman lifted weights with athletes twice his size as "research" for an article he was writing.
It was a stunt on behalf of The Heretick, a satirical magazine he edited at his boarding school in Wiltshire. "You don't necessarily have to be the most talented person to lead others," he says. "I entered the gym with these six-foot monsters. It showed the other writers how to get the most out of something."
It was that kind of imagination he tried to instill at the magazine, where he managed more than 20 writers on a publication that was published three times a year. It was founded in 1923 by John Betjeman, the famous English poet, and James had large shoes to fill.
"The challenge is to coax things out of people," he says. "There are deadlines and pages to fill, but it is also a creative challenge."
James credits his ability to lead others to his globe-trotting childhood and early sense of independence that came from making decisions on his own. Pulled along by his father's engagements with the sugarcane industry, he lived in Uganda and Guyana, among other countries, where he often learned more from his on-the- ground experiences than from what could be found in books.
But it was going to boarding school, Marlborough College, that pushed him outside of his comfort zone." I learned to be independent and, to an extent, to care for myself," he says.
Right off the bat, he rose to leadership positions at the school. He was a member of the Model United Nations delegation, a seasoned debater, and director of a production of The Ruffian on the Stair.
As the captain of the 5th XI cricket team, James led them to a victory over the famously competitive Eton School. While academics — particularly history — were an important part of his time at school, it was during extracurricular activities that he was able to learn the fundamentals of leadership.
"You need to understand what situations you cannot handle and need help with," James says, citing the values of compromise, tolerance, and planning as the traits most important in leading others.
He sees the natural course for his career to be politics, guided by a broad appreciation of history. Following his father around the world to the great sugarcane-producing nations, he also gained an understanding of duality, especially with regard to the history of the British Empire.
James traveled to the great battlegrounds, such as Isandlwana — the site of Britain's historic defeat against an army of Zulu warriors in 1879.
"It is important to see both sides of a historic event," he says. "In Isandlwana, I had the opportunity to learn more about the largely silent Zulu perspective."
NYU Abu Dhabi is, for James, yet another frontier. "I am coming from one of Britain's oldest boarding schools to a brand-new one," he says, calling the project a "globe-altering venture." "I'm ready to start hacking out a creation of my own."