Fordham IT is committed to the professional development of its staff. The Regional Leadership Forum is a key part of fulfilling that commitment. As RLF facilitator Scot Berkey explains, “RLF helps people understand who they are—their strengths, weaknesses, how they perceive themselves and others, and how others perceive them.” The RLF was developed over two decades ago by the Society for Information Management (SIM) and has graduated over 4,000 high-potential professionals into executive IT positions.
Most years, the Senior Leadership Team nominates several Fordham IT staff to take part in the nine-month comprehensive professional development series, which requires participants to participate in six two-day work-sessions. Past RLF graduates from Fordham IT include Gerard Cariffe, Katherine Egan, Roxana J. Callejo Garcia, David Whitney, Alex Demoleas, Patricia Carlucci, Robert Field, Mark McNeil, and Jason Benedict.
Jason Benedict, Fordham AVP and CISO, participated in the Regional Leadership Forum in 2007 and relates that “the best thing about RLF is that the structure allows it to be very introspective. It really helps you to be the best ‘you’ that you can be. Through RLF, you get an opportunity to listen to who you are, to find your authentic leadership style, and to manage your career with that knowledge. There is a lot of work to do, a lot of reading, BUT you do get out of it what you put in.”
Formulated as an immersion experience held in major U.S. cities like New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Fort Worth throughout the year, participants usually spend the entire two-day session together. The course is centered around a core set of books, experiential activities, and outings. To maximize personal and professional growth, topical discussions are typically participant-led, and the extended nature of the program allows for the evaluation and internalization of goals and learnings realized during each session.
Can the program be improved? Jason thinks so. “A year is not enough. The program should have optional refreshers with graduating stages in between to keep you rewarded and motivated. Every two years feels about right. I think folks might be scared away by a multiyear commitment before they start, but certainly not after they’ve gone through the program.” In fact, the RLF program leadership has recently created and implemented a follow-up Executive RLF Program for RLF graduates, where they can continue to advance their skills.
The core concept of authentic leadership discussed in RLF relates to the workplace, but it also applies to personal life. “The idea of having a work persona and home persona becomes more problematic the farther up you rise in an organization,” says Scot Berkey. “Authentic leadership requires that you be genuine no matter where you are.”
The next New York RLF begins in March and runs until November. Shannon Ortiz, Director of IT Security, will participate and is looking forward to it. “The RLF will allow me to be more insightful on how I view the world and the people around me. It will allow me to be a better person and to demonstrate this through my leadership responsibilities in my interactions with those that report to me, those that I report to, and those that I work alongside.”