Success Stories
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November 25, 2019 |
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Leadership Student Puts Management Theory Into Practice

Christine York was drawn to the MS in Leadership because of the program’s flexibility. What surprised her is how quickly she gained tools that helped her solve business problems.

By Jenny McKeel
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Christine York, Principal Process Excellence and Program Manager at a San Francisco biotech company, wanted to pursue an MBA but wasn’t sure which program was the best fit. She was attracted to GGU’s MS in Leadership because the curriculum emphasized hot topics—like Agile transformation and creative leadership—that reflected conversations happening at her company. The flexibility within the program convinced her the MS in Leadership was right for her.

“The fact that I could select my own concentration is what it made it a great fit for me. I was working full time while going back to school. Knowing I could tailor the program to my interests made it that much easier to make the commitment,” said Christine.

Real-World Applications

Christine found that her coursework was applicable to her role and her career. Senior leaders and executives at her company had started implementing Agile and Lean transformations as well as complex change thinking—management frameworks that help businesses thrive in a flexible, collaborative, self-organizing, fast-changing environment. Christine’s colleagues were impressed that she had the ability to teach others these same concepts.

“I was able to use the new terminology I had learned to explain to senior leadership how we would be able to succeed at solving problems where we hadn’t been able to before. That was powerful for me.”

“Some of the leaders in my organization were familiar with these concepts strategically, but they didn’t necessarily know how to implement them throughout the organization. That’s a skill set I’m able to bring. I’m able to explain how these concepts apply to our business groups. It’s one thing to send staff to a leadership development training. It’s completely different when you have someone in-house who can then help leaders and teams put these ideas into practice. That’s the value I’ve gained.”

Complex Change

In the course Leading Complex Change, Christine learned more about new approaches to organizational change. She applied new models to an ongoing challenge at work – models including Agile, which allows teams to create products in short, fast increments amid rapidly changing requirements. Within her organization, Christine’s team faced challenges related to onboarding new employees. She used the new change models to get her team to think about a multi-pronged, iterative approach to address the complex issues involved in managing this  problem.

“We can’t just spend $5 million dollars in the next 12 months on one big solution and expect it will work,” said Christine. “What I learned at GGU is if we implement a few smaller solution experiments, reevaluate, and then revise our approach – that can add more value, more quickly. Utilizing some of the new models, I was able to get a 12-month project implementation plan approved, where we are using this iterative solution approach, modifying as we learn what works and what doesn’t. What made the difference is that I was able to use the new terminology I had learned to explain to senior leadership how we would be able to succeed at solving problems where we hadn’t been able to before. That was powerful for me.”

Resilience Training

Beyond the tangible problem-solving frameworks Christine has gained, she has also learned resilience in the face of uncertainty.

“I’m able to handle a lot of changes at work better because I have a higher level understanding of business environments in disruption. I don’t get as frustrated in the face of reorganization  as I might have before. Now I know how to prepare for uncertainty. I can look at things with a new frame of mind, which has reduced my stress and allowed me to be there for other people in my professional life as well as my personal life.”

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