During this 35th year of CICS we certainly were not expecting to have to change our “special sauce”, but we have and it has been incredible. We have missed many of our events, most of which bring our alumni to campus in the Fall. There is always a special buzz when our national advisory board and alumni boards visit campus. We have great social events, golf outings, ropes course experiences and more, but not this year. We didn’t stop though, we used technology and our outstanding alumni connections to make something unique and engaging. Not that anyone who knows CICS would expect less from such a future forward program; pivot is in our nature.
Over the summer two of our amazing alumni Laura Lauer and Zoey Spengler started building a calendar for weekly social learning webinars largely from CICS alumni. Those have been such an incredible experience just in our first full month. Let’s recap!
Chris Howe, CICS 2004 alum, discussed work life balance which is a very appropriate topic for graduate students as they continue to transform into leaders during a chaotic year like 2020.
“Finally, I thought you might get asked a question, what would you do CICS over again. Yes! I’m very proud that I earned a master’s degree. I will tell you that I would not have risen to the titles that I had in Corporate America had it not been for CICS. I brought in a number of people from CICS where I worked. So my suggestion is do not be shy while you’re in the program network, network, network reach out and talk to people. If you’re not, if you’re shy, a lot of technically minded people are shy, this is your chance to to improve on that because you’re gonna have to do the same thing when you get to corporate life.”
Our next speaker was Beau King of Microsoft, a 2000 graduate of CICS and a national advisory board member.
“At at Microsoft, and I love this quote; I love it a lot, our CEO Satya Nadella challenged us, and he’s always challenging the culture of the company, which I think everybody is just bought in on but his quote is, “how can we build a culture of ‘learning it all’s as opposed to ‘know it all’s?” That just resonates with me and it resonates with my teammates. I think it resonates with CICS as well.
You know, Microsoft, historically, as a company that was a “know it all” company about seven years ago, and prior to that, you know it was ‘you use Microsoft’. pound your chest. It was Microsoft and nothing else. Well, technology, if you look back at all, and you’re learning a lot of it in your classes now; it’s been an evolution, you’re going to learn all about the Telcos and the breakup of at AT&T, you’re going to see just the progression of technology over the years.
Satya had a vision seven years ago when he took over a CEO. we can’t be that company anymore. We need to open up our solutions to other products. We need to allow Office to be on an iPhone and have that same type of experience, we need to learn from our competitors, we need to learn from each other. We need to come up with great ideas and and we’re going to fail sometimes. And if we fail. That’s okay fail fast but learn along the way as you’re going. We need to be curious and everything, learn, learn, learn and it makes sense for me. I’m like, I feel like that’s the way life should be. So I wanted to share that quote with the with the students here. So if I look over at some of my tips for success. Be curious. Be curious now on the program you’ve got such an incredible opportunity with the classes the projects you’re your own classmates, the alumni, so be curious in the program.“
Our next alum to speak with the group was Salesforce VP and author, Karen Mangia. Karen spoke about her personal and professional journey but spent the bulk of her time on her recent findings for her new book Working From Home; Making the New Normal Work for You
“Well, because this is a learning environment. We are going to do our first pop quiz. Hope you’re paying attention. Everybody loves that, right. Bloomberg did a fantastic study of remote workers recently. So what percentage of people report that they are not working or studying from a dedicated space. Give me a percentage guess. We have some smart people in the group. So, so, the correct answer is 72%. 72% of people are taking your laptop or your device all over your house like it’s a bowl of chips and you’re just going to have it all the time, anywhere you want.
What happens when you take your to do list or or your job or the learning that you need to do, into every part of your life. It’s amazing how your to do list starts to take over everything right, you suddenly don’t have a life. And here’s the reality, whether you are a student with homework to do or a professional with a job, the work that needs to be done is a guest and that work will only show up where you invite it. So if you are willing to invite your work or your learning to your dining room table, and to your back porch, and to the places where you relax, work and things to do will show up there.
So in addition to not working from a dedicated space. What percentage of people fully acknowledge in the same survey that they are working from bed? So 28.5% of people are working from their bed and here’s my question for you: is that putting you in a position to show up at your best? And that’s what I want to talk to you about how do you show up at your best because for some of you, you are going to be interviewing for a job in this context. Or looking virtually and trying to connect with people who could hire you. And then executing an interview. So what does it take for you to show up at your best. And so I think there’s a couple of things; for me the first one starts with mindset.“
Our next speaker was in partnership with our Women Working in Technology organization. Bette Smith, a change management expert, joined us to discuss individual and organizational responses to change, about our and others’ emotional responses to change (William Bridges’ transition model), and to explore how to manage our individual response to change, and learn specific tools and skills to apply to our personal change situations. Bette helped us think about how to approach, manage, and navigate change on an individual level and have empathy for how others are managing change. These skills are critical in the current moment in which we find ourselves.
“Alright, so we think that that is the head and the heart. The quote here on the bottom is from Chip and Dan Heath. These brothers and wrote a fabulous book called Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard. But they really spend time talking about this idea of rational/emotional and how it plays out in successful and unsuccessful change and the analogy they use is the rider and the elephant. So, the rider is our intellect, this little tiny character perched on top of the giant elephant. The rider is trying to control the elephant. I’m using a super simple example to illustrate this.
So this year in my annual physical my doctor and I had a conversation about improving my health. And one of the things was that I need to lose some weight. At my age, like you know you you gain weight and then you never get rid of it and like if I keep gaining weight at a certain rate that’s not going to bode well for me. So we had the conversation. I totally understood it, she shared data with me. I’m all on board right rationally. Alright. So I get back home and guess what? My husband has baked his incredibly delicious chocolate chip pecan cookies. Oh, there goes all that out the window. Now my elephant is charging towards the tray of cookies and I eat not one but I eat many. Alright, so maybe you can relate to that. But the point here is that it’s a great peril, that we don’t recognize our emotional response. And we will have an emotional response to change. And so what’s important is that we find a way to work with that, especially when we want to make the change a successful one.“
In addition to these great presenters, we have been doing LinkedIn sessions each week, students experienced a golf outing, we hosted a virtual national advisory board meeting which included break out sessions with our some of our online and campus based students. Many guest speakers have virtually visited classes, we still have many impactful projects happening with organizations such as US Signal and Accenture. Oh, and it’s just our first full month. Stay tuned for more social learning, the CICS way.