Each month, SEWI-ATD turns the spotlight on an active member who has been visible in the chapter by attending events and participating in other ATD functions. We are proud to acknowledge the important work of our members, provide additional career exposure within the Talent Development community, and help you to get to know a colleague just a little bit better! If you are interested in nominating another member for the spotlight, contact Lovina Akowuah at Lovina.Akowuah@gmail.com or Meica Hatters at email@example.com.
Title: Director of Organizational Development
This month, we are pleased to feature
Tell us a little about yourself.
First of all, I am honored and humbled to have been asked to participate in this spotlight piece. I just try to do my best every day and learn from others along the way!
While I’ve spent almost 30 years in the Milwaukee area, I grew up in a small rural southwestern Wisconsin town. (Just about every John Mellencamp song sums up my early upbringing!) Although I never learned to milk a cow, I did learn the importance of having a strong work ethic. In addition to farming, my extended family had several businesses in town where I learned the importance of customer service and the ins and outs of working with people at a very young age. This experience taught me the importance of building relationships and getting to know and caring for the whole person. I believe this is what led me to the field of organizational development.
What do you like to do in your spare time / day off / for fun?I love to read and often have several books going on at once, especially non-fiction. Cooking has always been an interest of mine and I enjoy trying new and creative dishes. My husband and I are “concert junkies” and spend quite a bit of time travelling to see our favorite bands and music genres. Among many wonderful things about Milwaukee, Summerfest, various ethnic festivals and the outstanding park system are some of the reasons we’ve stayed in Milwaukee when neither of us grew up here. Open Doors MKE is a favorite because it provides an opportunity for us to go behind the scenes and learn new things about this great city that makes it so special. We also like to spend time doing all these great things with our son and daughter, both in their mid-20s.
Tell us a little about your current professional role.
What do you wish people knew about your role?
My professional role at Marquette University is a bit of a mixed bag, although I think most OD professionals could say that! This is a new position for the University so the opportunity to build the program from the ground up was appealing to me. I’m not only creating strategies for others to execute, I am conducting various training sessions throughout the institution. When I began in early 2017, my main objective was to create and facilitate a leadership development program for about 400 supervisors of staff, as a result of some recent internal research. Through much collaboration with others within and outside of the university, it’s really come a long way. It’s an absolute joy to love your work, although there is so much more I want to do that it’s testing my patience!
What I wish people knew about the OD role is that it’s not a magic wand. Going through leadership training once is not going to solve deeply-rooted systemic or cultural issues. Training is only one piece of the puzzle and it takes perseverance. If an organization is not equipped with the right systems, tools and resources to reach its goals, training will never be the answer.
How do you balance your career and family/personal life?
I’m a total and complete klutz so my balance has never been very good! Kidding aside, it took me quite a while to learn how to prioritize my activities in order to reach my professional goals and to be willing to say no when needed. I spent much of my children’s youth working full time and getting involved in their activities as much as I could. Once it was time for me to focus on expanding my career goals, it was a difficult but challenging transition. I continually have to remind myself that I am not saving the world and sometimes I need to lower my expectations, take time to breathe, and enjoy life. Unfortunately, it took the death of a loved one to bring me to this point.Which SEWI-ATD program has been your favorite or most valuable? Hands down it’s been getting involved with United Way and helping with the annual campaign speech preparation. Many times, I’ve been so touched by their speeches that they end up teaching me more than I could ever teach them. It’s a very rewarding experience, especially since I make new connections, learn about and become involved with agencies I wasn’t aware existed.
What is your favorite book, blog or podcast?
This one is very difficult to answer so I’ll share what I am focused on right now. I’ve been investigating Gretchen Rubin’s concept of 4 tendencies (Upholders, Questioners, Rebels, Obligers) and have been following Margaret Heffernan for quite some time. If you haven’t seen her super-chicken TED talk it’s a must see.
I’m also a fan of Simon Sinek and Brene Brown and can’t wait to dig into her new book, Dare to Lead.
What's a question I didn't ask that you wished I had? (and also give your answer)
I think I’ve said plenty! Thanks. 😊