Be ambitious rather than competitive

Veena Bedekar, Canberra EMBA Graduate, June 2018

One of the highlights of being part of an EMBA cohort is the people you meet. One of our 2018 Canberra graduates, Veena Bedekar, was nominated as Student Representative Speaker.  She shares an extract of her graduate speech below.

My experience of Veena is that she is truly a “peoples person”. She is keen to help people arriving from other countries to “find their feet”, and to help them with their careers. Her exposure to art and creative people, gained from her role as a volunteer board director offers a refreshing balance with her legal work. She cherishes the people she met and the networks created through participating in the EMBA program. This is Veena’s story…

“It is difficult to succinctly explain the EMBA experience or its highlights. The program changes you in many ways – how you think, how you look at the world around you and how you view yourself.

The EMBA program provides intellectual rigour. In addition to technical areas such as financial management, economics, and accounting, you learn new perspectives in leadership decision making, including the importance of creativity in problem-solving, how to effectively frame communications, emerging issues in corporate governance and the leadership challenges that come with technology and innovation. You also develop a deep appreciation for the fact that organisations are systems and that in order to truly understand issues in leadership, it is important to consider all of the different parts that comprise the system. Understanding these leadership frameworks gives you the confidence to tackle difficult problems and weigh in on discussions that once might have made you uncomfortable.

A key part of the EMBA journey was going through a process of understanding yourself, then others and then the wider world.   The formal part of this process started with the unit ‘Personal Leadership and Change’ and a series of self-assessments in which we identified our individual core values, signature strengths, and leadership philosophy.  This was then extended to understanding contemporary issues facing the workforce, which are vital to understanding how to lead others.  This was supplemented by reflective practices and guidance from leadership coaches, who help you to understand how to utilise your strengths and to identify your blind spots.

The study tour that is a critical part of the EMBA program provides an invaluable opportunity to learn about different business cultures.  Through company visits and presentations, we gained valuable insight into leadership trends and international best practices.

Canberra EMBA Graduation, June 2018

On a personal note, I had the privilege of meeting amazing people throughout the program. The QUT academic and campus staff went out of their way to make our learning experience comfortable and to maximise our development opportunities.  We were lucky to have leadership coaches and executive advisers who were renowned in their fields to help us grow.

During our first face to face weekend, Associate Professor Glen Murphy spoke about how the EMBA journey was as much about the cohort as it was about ourselves.  That observation applied not only to our EMBA program but it remains applicable today.

There were a few things that distinguished my cohort. We were ambitious but not competitive.  Every single one of the cohort was willing to help another out, which shone through during the two year period.

As a group, we strived for excellence, and not success.  There were times when it would have been easier to simply accept the theories and use the buzzwords but I often saw my cohort members dissenting with the common view where they felt the group thinking failed to see a key point, and that dissent helped everyone to develop.

We were diverse and inclusive even when that made a decision more protracted.  Some people were ‘big picture’ and others were ‘detailed people’; some were ‘outcomes-focused’ and some leaned more towards ‘people focus’. This lead to robust discussions throughout the program, including during group projects. It is not always easy giving someone the benefit of the doubt when you don’t understand their perspective, why they hold a different value to you or why they are approaching a problem in a particular way.  However, from day one, the cohort collectively applied an approach of appreciative inquiry to understand the how the what and the why when there was a competing view.  This cognitive diversity helped us to make better decisions collectively and to form deeper friendships within the cohort.

Although the EMBA program has ended, I feel that the journey to become a better leader is a continuing one. That perhaps is another feature of the EMBA program – it facilitates a life-long passion for learning and development.”

Veena Bedekar,
EMBA Graduate and nominated Student Representative speaker
Final Graduation Speech. June 2018

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