Participant Story

Ifeoma (Ify) Dawodu

Ifeoma (Ify) Dawodu

A New Toolbox for Leadership Development

  • Role

    Business Operations Manager, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine
  • Industry

    • Education

I don't think that words can fully describe the value of this program. For me, every topic was relatable.

Ifeoma (Ify) Dawodu is the Business Operations Manager at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, where she is responsible for improving long-term initiatives that align with corporate goals and growth models. Looking to take her leadership skills to the next level, she turned to the Developing Yourself as a Leader—Virtual program at Harvard Business School.

How did you first hear about the program, and why did you choose to attend?

I was working with my supervisor, trying to figure out what would be the next step for me. My goal was to find an executive education program that set the bar for distinction, where I could expand my leadership skills and my professional network. When I read about the Developing Yourself as a Leader—Virtual program, it sounded like it was just what I needed.

Being able to interact and network with people from all over the world was a big deciding factor for me. And I felt that what I learned would be immediately applicable. The class met once a week over three months, so I could easily add it into my professional schedule without overreaching and stretching myself too thin. And it seemed like a great return on my investment.

How would you describe the program's value to someone considering it?

I don't think that words can fully describe the value of this program. For me, every topic was relatable. My notebook is filled with practical knowledge that I've been able to apply to complex project and program operations, and also share with my colleagues as they face different business challenges.

I would say to anyone who's thinking about attending the program, that you get out of it what you put into it.

What surprised you most about the experience?

I didn't expect to connect with as many people as I did. We actually had ample opportunities to network outside of our class meetings. And during the breakout sessions, we were placed in groups that differed from our regular class group.

I also didn't expect the technology to be so amazing. I loved chatting and connecting. Before you know it, you're on LinkedIn commenting and following each other, and growing that professional network. In fact, we’re going to be checking in quarterly to see how everybody's doing and where we are with our goals.

What are your thoughts on the virtual format of the program?

The virtual piece is what makes the program so valuable. Imagine what it's like to be able to experience this program with people from so many different countries with different jobs and different career paths, who are all talking about what it is to be a leader and how to develop themselves.

Only that virtual platform could make it possible—and that's how things are going to be moving forward, so I embraced it.

What advice would you give to someone considering this program?

Definitely block off time before class to prepare and after class so you can process everything that you just went through. It's a lot and goes by so fast! Be open to collecting the resources that each presenter shares because you might want to check them out later and dive deeper into the topics you like.

I also blocked off time on my calendar for professional development, and I still keep that time on my calendar today. If I have a presentation with senior leadership, for instance, I can work on how to improve my communication skills. I can still log in and do things like that.

Is there anything else that you'd like to share about the experience?

The executive coaching was probably one of the best mentoring experiences I've ever had, and definitely one that I'll never forget. In only three sessions, I achieved a tremendous amount of growth, both personally and professionally.

During this time, I got a new boss. My executive coach helped me not only prepare for the transition, but also guided me in going through it. I plan to continue working with her in the future as well. Being able to work with a coach who knows what you're learning in class—and who also keeps in touch with what's going on in your professional life—is invaluable.

Featured Program

Developing Yourself as a Leader—Virtual