Every day brings new challenges for professionals. We understand your desire to become better leaders.

Whether you are seeking to be more effective in your current role, transitioning to a new career, or pursuing lifelong learning, Harris is here to support your professional development. 


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Please join us in our upcoming professional development events. These webinars focus on providing insights and skills to guide you through your career “transitions,” and add to your communications skills toolbox. 

POSTPONED UNTIL JUNE:

“Culture by Design” with David Friedman

Headshot of David Friedman

David Friedman is an award-winning CEO, entrepreneur, author, and renowned public speaker.  

He knows firsthand what it takes to build a high-performance culture. David will share his insights on growing and maintaining culture, including how to manage when team members are working remotely.

 In 2011, David published his first book, Fundamentally Different, which is based on the insights he learned and taught throughout his many years of personal leadership experience.  In 2021, he published the second edition of his book, Culture by Design, the definitive “how to” manual for building a high-performance culture.  Participants in his workshops describe them as the most practical and actionable programs they have ever attended.  Readers and participants have said this about his book Culture by Design and his programs:

“David Friedman is the single most important speaker my members have heard in 34 years …  and I’ve seen firsthand, the transformative impact of what he teaches.”

“The genius in what David Friedman teaches is in its simplicity.  But don’t let that fool you.  We applied these concepts, with amazing results, for our thousands of team members around the world.”

David received his BA in Philosophy from William and Mary.  His current company, High Performing Culture, has helped hundreds of clients throughout North America to implement his culture operating system, CultureWise®.

Attendees will receive a copy of David’s book Culture by Design.  Terri Brady, Executive Director of Professional Development at the Harris School of Public Policy will moderate. 

Register here.


Take Five with Terri

Terri Brady, Harris' Executive Director of Professional Development, wants to know what makes Harris Alumni tick. In Take Five with Terri, she asks Harris alums five questions about their life and careers after Harris, and about the wisdom they gained along the way.

Interview with Mark Wilson
AM ’95, MBA ‘95

The following interview has been edited.

1. Tell us about your personal and professional journey (where did you grow up, where do you live now, and what do you do professionally).

A headshot of Mark Wilson

I grew up in a small college town called Davis, in California. I went to college at UC Santa Barbara and ended up with a history major – the history of public policy. I then went to a political/government affairs firm in Sacramento where we worked on political campaigns. I was thrown right into working with the California Builders’ Association on a school construction bond. I saw who was doing what on certain kinds of campaigns and how things were positioned. The teachers’ union was in front of the school construction bond measure, but the money came from the California Builders’ Association. We worked on a number of different policy-related issues. 

Then I went to the Harris School and the GSB (now called the Booth School). I was trying to decide what to do in terms of my career, and since I had tons of mounting debt, I thought I better get more for-profit chops. During the interview process I was not savvy on some of the aspects of the business world. My first job out of school was at AT&T in New Jersey. I saw that there was this “internet thing” that’s coming so I went to work for the people who provide “the plumbing” for the internet. I couldn’t have been more wrong!  In hindsight what is important are all the applications that sit on top of the network, which itself is a bit of a commodity. 

I was working in New Jersey and living in Soho in New York.  There was a horrific winter snowstorm and they asked me to go to California for a business development meeting. It was the middle of February, and my friends were having a party on somebody’s roof deck. I asked them if they had the party for me, but they said they did it every weekend. Then I decided that I had to figure out how to get out to California!

I moved out to California and joined a consulting firm called the San Francisco Consulting Group. I was consulting in the technology space, and from there I joined a company in enterprise technology. Then I went into corporate development and was doing mergers and acquisitions.  Eventually I jumped into being a general manager for one of our business units. I decided what I really enjoyed was the marketing aspect.  Eventually I became the Chief Marketing Officer with a group called Avaya, which is an enterprise communication company. 

Now I am the Chief Marketing Officer for BlackBerry. Along the way I got married and had kids.

2. Please describe a recent work project that you found particularly challenging or interesting and tell us why.

I have the good fortune to have one of the plum assignments in marketing.  I work with a brand that a lot of people have had an experience with, and the brand created an entire category.  BlackBerry enabled mobile work. If you were a banker, you could get deals done using your BlackBerry. If you were a lawyer, you would write your briefs on your BlackBerry.  If you were a journalist, you would file your stories using your device, and if you were a doctor, you would provide care using your BlackBerry. Even a head of state – then UK Prime Minister David Cameron – said that he could manage his country on his BlackBerry. 

Then BlackBerry fell on hard times against Apple and Samsung. We took the “essence” of BlackBerry and pivoted that brand story into a totally new area. We took a company known for creating the category of mobile work and figured out what we are really good at: things like security, mobility, embedded systems, and we moved that into an entirely new space.  It’s an insanely challenging assignment. 

BlackBerry is in over 195 million cars on the road today. If you own a car, there’s a high likelihood that BlackBerry is in your car. What is interesting is that we have repositioned the company so that it is in markets like automotive and the internet of things, as well as cyber security. To me that is the ultimate challenge.

Question: how much of your marketing job is about telling stories?

At Booth I took a business strategy class and one of the parts was “strategy as story,” and one of the readings (which I still have) was “the call of story.” Stories and narratives and archetypes have been with us for a really long time. It’s easy to leverage how our species and civilization think of things in terms of stories. Knowing who the archetypes are – who is the hero and who is the villain and what is the journey – that’s a lot of how we think about storytelling for marketing. Story plays a huge role. If you can’t tell a story that people can identify with you don’t have much of a brand.

Story is the basis of Silicon Valley. You look at eBay, and the idea of eBay was allegedly founded by someone selling Pez dispensers. It was the most fabricated story of all time. Instead, it was a bunch of people in a garage thinking of a business model for exchange.  It had nothing to do with Pez dispensers. And yet, the story has come about this way. Apple is renowned for storytelling. It’s near and dear to ever tech marketer’s heart. 

3. What aspects of your Harris education have been most valuable to you in your career?

One of the best sessions I had at Harris was in Stats II.  We had a group project that was the beginning of working on teams. As a history major, I had never worked on teams so this was the first real team project. I learned a ton. It was great because on our team we had people that were brilliant and had strong personalities. Two of the people went on to become professors. A third was a high-powered social investor and one of the smartest people I know. It was a great project in that I learned all the elements of working on a team. I learned how to deal with people.

A lot of the people were similar, which is the worst team dynamic. In hindsight, it’s a horrible way to build a team. We did regression analysis and it was all real world. Then we botched the analysis. We were finding that the “r squared” was too high and the results just looked too good. We got a horrible score because we did some shoddy statistical analysis. Even though we had the brightest brains, we had challenges working together and we didn’t come to the best outcome. I learned that you could put these really smart people together and not come to a good result. 

At Harris I also took a formal models class, and it is something that I continue to use today. I studied the Prisoner’s Dilemma and Arrow’s Theorem. We were exposed to interesting models in how decision-making and negotiations happen. That’s something you rely on for a long time.  

Someone once told me that what you learn in grad school you apply for five years, and that what you learn in the first five years of working you apply for the next ten years. Not true. To me what is interesting is that I keep using what I learned in grad school as I continue to go back to some of those experiences and the learning from that time. 

My last response to your question is an absolute gem. I was a research assistant to Susan Mayer before she became the Dean.  She was amazing – incredibly smart and incredibly gracious of her time. I learned a lot. It is another very fond experience I had at the Harris School. 

I was so happy to hear that Harris is doing lab classes. I was very fond of the lab classes at Booth and an advocate of saying we should do this at the Harris School. If you don’t have a lot of real world experience you get to put something on your resume that says you have some real world experience. It’s the ultimate organizational theory class that’s better than taking the actual class. You are learning in a lab environment. 

4. What is an ideal fun day off for you?

A photo of Mark Wilson sailing

I live in the San Francisco Bay area and my passion is sailing. I love to go out sailing in the Bay because it is one of the best places on the planet to go sailing – and I say this without hyperbole.

As a kid I sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii. I have sailed across the Atlantic, and up and down the East Coast. I have been in really bad weather, and in boats that were struck by lightning. I was on a boat in the Chesapeake where I was on watch alone in the middle of the night and a submarine emerged. I have been in storms where people were getting rescued by the Coast Guard. I have had a lot of really exciting sailing experiences. There is nothing better.

I have been in sailing situations where it felt like there was a good chance we could die. We live in such a “safe society” with air bags and convenience stores. For me there is nothing like knowing who you are by putting yourself in a position where there is no safety net. It’s really you and the elements.  How are you going to handle that? Adversity hit and we lost a lot of water.  How are you going to ration water where there are five people and some of them said it was not their fault?  You get into these interesting dynamics, and you learn a lot about yourself and how you handle stress. 

When the chips are low, what do you do? It’s hard to put yourself in a position where you see that side of yourself. I find that is something I really value. 

For me, the ultimate day is actually going sailing on the Bay. The weather and the wind are usually very predictable, and the wind is strong. It’s fun to get out and sail around Alcatraz, Angel Island, PIER 39, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. There are so many unique spots, and they all have microclimates of weather and tide and wind.

5. What piece of “counter-intuitive” advice would you give your “Harris self” now?

I would tell myself to take a lot more risk. In a way I played it safe, so my advice would be to take more risk in every way.  It will all work out in the end. Absolutely lean in and give everything. You don’t have to do that every single day, but you know there are those moments in time when you need to lean in and give everything you have.

Take more risks in your career. Take more risks in your life. It’s like the sailing experience. Do more of that. When I was at Harris, I didn’t understand the concept of risk, or I thought of it in a narrow way when it is really like this [he spreads his arms wide].

Just show up. You will be wildly successful and wildly differentiated from everybody else if you just show up on time. But don’t stop there. Figure out where the risks are that you want to take and lean in and take those risks. You won’t regret it.
 


Read Up

Stay informed about important professional development and leadership topics. Our curated and insightful articles highlight connections to our webinar speakers. 

High-Performing Professionals Run on Self Awareness
A commentary by Terri Brady about developing self-awareness, which requires curiosity, humility, and courage.

How to Network When There Are No Networking Events
Our initial webinar speaker, thought leader Dorie Clark, wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review on how to network when there are no networking events.

Weighing the Risk Ethics of Requiring Vaccinations
Our recent webinar guest, Michele Wucker, author of The Gray Rhino and You Are What You Risk, explores how workplaces can manage their risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Master of Influence: The “Notorious RBG” Used Persuasion to Advance Equality
A commentary by Terri Brady about how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg used the persuasion tools of framing, building relationships, and asking strategic questions to change policy and laws.

The Power of Networking: A Harris Connection Story
When Harris alumna Mary Michaud, MPP ’95, connected with Analiese Wagner, MPP ’20 and Sarah Gill, MPP ’20 it triggered a powerful chain of subsequent connections and events. And it all began with a single email.


Listen Up

Explore our collection of webinar series and individual events to hear from experts on a range of topics related to professional development and leadership.

Listen to past webinars from the Transition Series, the Influencing Series, the Leadership Series, and the Wellness Series.

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate and Sisterhood
An interview with author Dawn Turner

Headshot of Dawn Turner

A former columnist and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Dawn Turner spent a decade and a half writing about race, politics, and people whose stories are often dismissed and ignored. Turner has written commentary for The Washington Post, PBS NewsHour, CBS Sunday Morning News show, NPR’s Morning Edition show, the Chicago Tonight show, and is the author of two other books.  She was a Nieman Journalism fellow at Harvard University, and in 2018, Turner served as a Fellow and journalist-in-residence at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. 

Three Girls from Bronzeville was named one of the New York Times and Washington Post’s Notable Books of 2021. Buzzfeed and Real Simple named it a Best Book of 2021. Publishers Weekly described it as “beautiful, tragic and inspiring” and a “powerful testament” to “the importance of understanding the conditions that shape a person’s life choices.” Listen to learn:

  • About Dawn’s career trajectory and transitions from pre-med student, to journalist, to memoirist

  • How Dawn has persevered and succeeded despite obstacles and challenges throughout her life and career, and how choices, “daring,” and “second chances” can make such a difference

  • How Dawn has been shaped by her upbringing in the historic Bronzeville community, and her insights about the role of “place,” community, and education in our lives

  • About the “three girls from Bronzeville,”  – herself, her sister, and her best friend -- who began life in the same building, but who took very different paths as they ventured beyond their homes

Watch “Three Girls from Bronzeville” an interview with Dawn Turner (1 hour)


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Ask a question

If you have questions about professional development, or you would like us to explore specific subjects, contact Terri Brady, Executive Director of Professional Development at tbrady@uchicago.edu.

Contribute

Do you want to contribute your opinion in writing?

The Chicago Policy Review invites all Harris alumni to submit opinion editorials for their Commentary section. Promote your professional brand to an audience of policy experts. 

Submit your editorial.

Send questions to the Chicago Policy Review editor in chief at editor.in.chief@chicagopolicyreview.org.