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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

Maria Glymph, MSOD '13

MSOD Resources and Relationships Create Impact Well Beyond The Program Experience

About Josh Epperson

For the past decade, Josh has worked at Navalent helping leaders and organization overcome their business challenges. He works with a variety of organizations and leaders ranging from community-based NGOs to privately owned business to multi-billion dollar public corporations.

Josh: Maria, what are you currently up to?

Maria: I am in the middle of a major transition – lots of change. For most of my career, I’ve been an independent consultant focusing on organization effectiveness and management consulting. Recently I worked in a long-term contract with Chevron on a Major Capital Project as an embedded organization effectiveness consultant to the project team. My role included org design, facilitation, leadership development, team performance, individual and team coaching, and a variety of other results-focused activities. But now, I’m going internal. I’ve accepted a position with Bayer in Leverkusen, Germany to provide OD and Change at the corporate level.

Josh: Tell me a little about your MSOD experience.

Maria: The MSOD program at Pepperdine is considered one of the best programs in the country, and it was founded and led by the people who set the stage for organizational management practice. I underscore that the program is rooted in folks who started the field and shaped management science: Block, Beckhard, Schein, Petrella. An impressive roster.

Oftentimes people ask if I spent all my time in Malibu at the main campus. Nope, we weren't in Malibu. We had the chance to go to France, Costa Rica, and China – spending time in the global setting. I think that's a big part of what makes this program great and different. The program offers transformation on a number of levels.
For some, it's personal, opening up in a way that is new, in a new space, with the first opportunity for true self-reflection. For others, it's building on perspective and tools and practices.

Regardless, the program is about change, and it happens to each individual. It’s valuable to experience and learn about personal and group dynamics. 

As to my experience, I had been doing OD work when I started the program but the program gave me a language and framework to hang my existing work upon. And it gave me new tools and new perspectives. I loved org design and coupling that with polarity management created a good structure. There were so many powerful books, so many powerful thought leaders. The faculty was wonderful.

Josh: Where there any defining moments for you during the program?

Maria: At the very beginning of our program, the learning group consultants gave their practice point of view. They talked about their consulting and how they approach their work. One of the consultants spoke, and he literally said what I was thinking. That was big moment for me. Today, I consider him to be one of my dearest friends in life and work. From a work perspective we talk about the work we’re doing and share stories. On the personal side, we talk about our love of reading and politics and we have a nice robust relationship, and it just works. It’s a real treasure. He’s a treasure – here’s to you Jeff McCollum.

Josh: Talk to me about the how you connect the dots between your program experience and your impact at work.

Maria: I go back to my resources from the program often. I have revisited many of the texts and my notes or shared conversations and continue to mine MSOD resources to inform what I am doing. In terms of relationships, I have my learning group and learning group consultant, and then I have another local MSOD friend who was an initial introduction to the program (Michael Fischer).

We have a vibrant alumni network, and MSOD opens many doors. So the experience has a continuous impact on my work and my thinking. 

Josh: Do any specific client challenges come to mind?

Maria: I remember entering a client system that had a lot of unaddressed conflict. The first thing I tackled was the difficult relationships between two people. I pulled from the difficult conversations work we did in the program. We had to conduct some serious MSOD-like conversations and surprisingly they were willing to go there. The program was reflected in the ability to create that safe environment and to be vulnerable in that way. There was a high degree of emotion and lack of understanding as to how this issue was affecting the broader team and hindering all of the other work we needed to accomplish. We started there, committed to changing those fronts then we moved on to the broader organization clarity questions and challenges.

Josh: As you look into the future, how do you hope to increase your impact?

Maria: As I join Bayer, I find myself in a new industry, in a new country, and in a new culture. I plan to bring myself fully into this new adventure, and at the same time, I want to be culturally intelligent. In order to have impact, I have to ease into this new situation and ensure that I am managing my change – personal and professional – in a manner that is good for me and my new organization. It’s really very exciting.    

Josh: Anything else you want to add before we close?

Maria: I think the 40th anniversary alumni event highlighted the vibrancy and diversity of our community of practitioners. There are a lot of people using their MSOD experience in a variety of ways, and I am glad to be a part of that. It’s a wonderful tapestry of people. I’d like to learn more about what people are doing and how we can share and build upon each others’ experiences.