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Voices of Growth from Our Academic Partners

This month, aligned with the GROW element of the OD Networks value proposition, we asked submissions from a handful of students, alumni, and program directors of key Academic Partners of the OD Network.  The intended outcome here is the start of dialogue on how members of our learning communities have come to value the Network along their educational journey entering the field of OD.

We’ll begin with a reflection from Patricia Petty, MSPOD, Associate Director at the Weatherhead School of Management at the Network’s platinum sponsor school, Case Western Reserve University:

“A few years back, a student in the first year of our program mentioned he was interested in finding a new position in the field of OD.  He shared that some of what he was learning could be applied in his current role, but not nearly what he would like, especially having learned what OD professionals were doing in the field. Though he lived on the East Coast, relocating seemed to be a viable option, so I mentioned the OD Network annual conference as a means of exploring what’s out there. I told him he could likely connect with not only Case Western alumni, but with diverse OD professionals from across the country. 
“To my surprise, this student made the investment in himself and showed up to the conference on his own. He attended as many sessions as he could, expanded his OD perspective, and connected with practitioners of all kinds. In particular, however, he met with one of our CWRU alumni on the West Coast. By the end of the conference, he had a job interview scheduled and within weeks, a new position across the country. From that moment on, I appreciated the game-changing opportunities our students and alumni can discover in the OD Network. I also learned to see the Network as invaluable for students, both during and especially right after their studies. There is no better professional association out there that is a more effective catalyst in connecting OD students to active professionals in the field of OD.”

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Like all of the program directors and faculty of member schools of the OD Education Association, Patricia Petty cares deeply about current graduate and doctoral students who will become future leaders of the field of OD.

One such exemplary leader is Argerie Vasilakes, MPOD. Argerie is a great example of how a Case Western alum has grown to become a trusted voice in the Network, now taking on a critical Co-Chair role and shared responsibility for the crown achievement of the Network this year: the 2017 ODN Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. Argerie titled her reflection, “I came looking for community”:

“I remember walking into the 2012 OD Network Annual Conference in San Jose––my second conference. A sparkling new poster was tucked under my arm, and I was excited to present findings about my company’s use of creative thinking and Appreciative Inquiry, which had improved our business operations. I looked forward to the feedback I’d get from practitioners at other companies, and I set the poster on its easel in the exhibit hall with great expectations. Twenty or more visitors came by––all external consultants or academics. Where are all the internal practitioners, I wondered. All the next day I asked everyone I met, “Where are the internal OD people?” Finally, an ODN Board member answered, “Well, maybe there’s something we can do to make the Network and conference more valuable to them. Do you have any ideas?” There I was, only a second-year member, and I was already seeing how heart-felt questions can open doors. Those doors led me to an invaluable opportunity to co-host a monthly Practice Community for internals from all over the country. Now I could have the kind of conversations I longed to have with people like me, who also had a point of view from the inside. As it turns out, other internals wanted the same thing. It felt like home.
“My community had always been in the Network. Although I’d quietly participated with internals in webinars or perhaps had seen their names in the membership directory, there was nothing that made our relationships come alive like the human-to-human connection that came from our regular practice, from working together on committees, and, of course, from ODN annual conferences. Now that I’ve recently stepped across the border to life as an external consultant, I know that my community is still here. That hasn’t changed––in fact, I see more of it, and doors continue to open for me in the Network. Last year I was even invited to join the 2017 Conference Taskforce. In my brief time in the Network, I’ve made connections that have become my home base. As I continue to evolve and grow, my community will always be here.”

As readers can imagine, it is exhilarating to work side-by-side with fellow practitioners in the field on a project as vast as the 2017 OD Network Annual Conference. The Planning Committee is currently seeking volunteers for a number of initiatives and subcommittees. Email for information.

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Another future leader in the Network and alum from an OD Education Association school is Monica Rodriguez Kuniyoshi, MSOD, who graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2010. Monica is the Associate Director of Business Development Strategy & Operations for one of the top 10 international law firms, K&L Gates, LLP. Monica also enjoys volunteering as a committee lead for the OD Network in her spare time. Here is what Monica had to share:

“When people ask me what I learned in my OD program at the USF, I tell them I gained two critical insights:
  • OD theory gives formal names to the business dysfunction and phenomena we see every day as working people; and
  • We have been doing OD all along and didn’t know it.
“Certainly, getting an OD-focused education also means that we can do a significantly better job at the practice of OD––we hone our diagnostic and evaluation skills, we learn to apply change management and other OD frameworks, and we can better understand and overcome the barriers to change.     
“When I graduated, people asked me, ‘So what will you do with your degree?’ Good question! Back then, I had a mid-level position at the same international law firm where I work now. While I did see some room to apply my new OD skills there, what I didn’t see was entry-level roles for newly-minted OD practitioners any where else. I didn’t yet feel confident enough in my abilities to claim my place among more veteran OD practitioners, so I worked hard to grow the role and presence of OD at my current company––all without ever uttering the term, organization development.
“I rarely defined what I was doing as OD, and that seemed to work great! Until, that is, I got inspired to attend my first OD Network annual conference and wanted my company to pay for it. I made my case for why I was indeed practicing OD and what I would gain from being able to learn from those more experienced than I. In many ways, that conversation was pivotal; it deeply changed the way firm leadership saw me and my work. Attending the OD Network conference gave me more ways to describe what I do more effectively; it gave me more tools to add to my arsenal. And I took all of that learning home with me. Now, seven years after getting my masters from USF, I hold up my head up proudly as an OD practitioner knowing the value I bring, knowing that I have the entire OD Network community to learn from, and knowing that my lifelong education continues.”

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A final narrative brings in the voice of Katherine Bates, current masters student from the MSOD program at Pepperdine University. Katherine’s story begins with a personal connection to the author of this article; it highlights the role of meaningful connection in her experience of the Network and optimism for her future in OD:

“Following a chance meeting at a Bay Area event for Pepperdine alumni, I had coffee with ODN Board member, Marco Cassone, to learn more about the OD Network. As a graduating student transitioning from finance into OD, I knew I needed to grow my professional network, and I believed volunteering for ODN could put me in more regular touch with people in the field.
“Well, as tends to happen, people connect people, and activity breeds activity. From a job and resource perspective, here’s a quick list of what’s transpired in less than two months from my initial coffee with Marco:
  • I received a fantastic, useful, and timely facilitator’s guide from another member;
  • I gained helpful perspectives from different people on internal versus external consulting, confirming my choice to stay external;
  • I got recommendations for new OD consulting firms, roles, and opportunities to explore; and
  • After 20+ years of professional work, I’m developing new skills and taking on a minor leadership role working on communications on behalf of OD schools.
“And while these developments are fantastic, the most significant benefits from my brief tenure with the OD Network are the connections I’ve made. These have been more enriching than I ever could have imagined. My experience has been one of shared connection, of generous idea/resource exchange, and of continuous growth and learning. One professional relationship at a time, I am creating my own unique tribe that will enrich me throughout my career. As I make the potentially daunting transition into OD, I feel the OD Network provides me with a community of like-minded people that I can reach out to, and to which I can give back, as I continue my journey finding my place in the field of OD.”

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Katherine Bates will explore new ways to give voice to members of learning communities affiliated with the Network. She is looking to form a team and recognizes the potential for deeper relationships built through working with fellow members on inspiring projects. To inquire about working with Katherine, please email your interest to

This month’s spotlight article has been a pilot exploring ways to share the reflections and stories from members of our respective learning communities. The intended outcome here has been dialogue around how our student and alumni colleagues have come to value the Network along their educational journey as they enter the field of OD.

We are curious for your feedback on this approach and welcome your input. If you have a 250-word narrative that depicts how the Network has made a positive difference in your professional growth and development, please send your submission the last week of the month to with permission to edit as appropriate for publication.

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