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MSOD Intensive 1: Career Clarity Found

Darron A. Padilla, MSOD '17

It was summer 2014. I was enjoying the beautiful sunset on the beaches of P-Town (aka Provincetown), Massachusetts, during their famous Carnival festival. I was sitting with my best friend and Pepperdine University Alum discussing my future. You see, I was at a crossroads. I was in an IT Project Management career that I was good at, but didn’t enjoy. It was not fulfilling and I knew my career took a wrong turn a few years ago. So, I had to make a decision on where I wanted to take my career next. During that heart-to-heart conversation, my best friend asked me some very fundamental questions about me and how that should shape my future. He shared with me his journey from MBA to MSOD and why he chose that new career path. I really took to heart what he said since we both had very similar career paths. What really struck me was that one career path I was contemplating would have me start at the bottom of the career ladder. That was a difficult pill to swallow as I was making a good living doing IT Project Management and I had to really think about how starting over in mid-life would impact me. Could I really take the financial hit and go in a totally different direction to satisfy my right-brain? What insight I got from that conversation was this: I can still satisfy my right-brain creativity while doing a career change that would be the next step up, not down. I reflected on my career choices over the past 20 years and realized that I felt at home where I helped people and organizations transform. I love people and I love helping people be the best that they can be. That’s where MSOD comes in. As I researched Pepperdine’s MSOD program, I fell in love with the curriculum, especially the unique perspective of “self as instrument”. For the first time in a long time, I became energized about the possibility of becoming an MSOD practitioner and help people and organizations transform. I finally got clarity on the direction I needed to take my career. The first chance I got when I got home from that trip was to enroll in Pepperdine’s MSOD program!

My first assignment was to form a small group to create our own introduction of ourselves to the rest of our cohort (that’s an MSOD term that we call our class). I was fascinated by the caliber of people joining this program and the diversity of experience there was. After we posted our assignment, I got to see the rest of my cohort’s introduction to become closer to my new MSOD friends!


It wasn’t until I attended our first Intensive that I really became clear as to what I was meant to do with my life and career. There is a reason why they call it “intensive”! The curriculum was intense, the conversations and discussions were intense, and the clarity about who I am was intense. During one of my “walk and talks”, where you literally schedule time to walk and talk about what you are learning with one of your cohort classmates, it became so clear to me that I found my life’s work and finally brought meaning, passion, and direction back to my life! I never have been so close to a loving, caring, and intelligent group of people in my life! The sharing we all did in class helped me to gain so many insights about myself, how my past impacted my behaviors, and that once I distinguished those behaviors, I was able to empower myself as an instrument for change. There is no other program in this world that can change lives like Pepperdine’s MSOD program! This was definitely the best decision I ever made! I finally found clarity in my life and career!

As soon as I got home after Intensive 1, I had to change my job to map to my new career. So, I updated my LinkedIn account, my resume, and my job searches. I did not realize the power behind the Pepperdine University name and the MSOD program. I was getting calls from recruiters at least 3 times a day for Change Management and Organizational Effectiveness positions. Within 1 month, I had 6 interviews. I finally took a job at Slalom Consulting in their Organizational Effectiveness practice doing the work that I love! The power behind getting clear on who you are and your purpose in life can never be underestimated. When you are authentic with yourself, the universe opens doors and human relationships flourish!



About the Author

Darron Padilla is a Senior Consultant in the Organizational Effectiveness practice at Slalom Consulting, Palo Alto, California. Slalom designs and builds strategies and systems to help their clients solve some of their most complex and interesting business challenges. They put people first. Slalom is honored as one of the Glassdoor best places to work in 2016 – their 7th year in a row! Darron’s professional career includes work in the energy, healthcare, and high-tech industries. His certifications include: Project Management Professional (PMP), Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and Agile Scrum Master.