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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

About Ann Feyerherm


I am Ann Feyerherm. Currently, I am the Associate Dean for Executive Programs at the Graziadio Business School, and I am also a faculty member with the MSOD program, and I have been part of the MSOD program for about 24 years. And it's been a wonderful journey, and I am looking forward to talking more about that with you today.

Well, I will say that when I was a new faculty member, I had taught in the MBA program and was teaching other kinds of topics and I was invited to be in the MSOD program as a faculty member and this was maybe after I'd been at Pepperdine for one or two years, and I jumped at the chance. I jumped at the chance, and why, and how it's transformed my life? Part of it was I was in the industry before doing organizational development work. And so, to have the opportunity to do it at a university setting with students who were like me, not so many years ago, was a tremendous opportunity. And I always have felt and still feel that the MSOD program is home for me in the academic world, and that doesn't always happen.

I stayed with Pepperdine University because I was so entranced, and intrigued, and committed to this program, and to the students who were coming through the program, and to my faculty team. It transformed my way of teaching in terms of experiential teaching, much more engaged teaching. I think it made me feel that I had a place, an important place, and that I could experiment with my teaching and experiment with ideas. This was the playground for a lot of ideas of teaching, methods of teaching, as well as content of teaching.

Legacy is an interesting word and I think for me, it's what do I want people to remember and what do I want brought forward from what I am doing currently to the future, to the future of this program, and to the future of students that I'll be interacting with? This program was built on the idea, the foundation that awareness of self was critical to do really good organizational development work, to really engage with that client, that person that you were working with, and you had to know oneself before you could do that effectively.

So the other thing it was built on was the concept of doing it from your heart and as well as your head, as well as having the will. And so, when I think of my role in the program as a faculty member, yes, I teach content about group dynamics, and transorganizational systems, and change skills. But what I really think I bring is the heart, and that the heart, the love that I have for this program, for the students, can be transformational. I think people learn through love, and so I have made it my own exploration, my own mission to explore and unpack how does one have, as Carl Rogers said, unconditional positive regard for every other person that I come in contact with. So if anything, I would like to be noted for continuing to make sure that this MSOD program has the heart and has the self-awareness that is so important to the work that we do in the world.

And I would like to be known for my funky shoes.

Yeah, right. So these several classes have seen these shoes. I broke my ankle severely. My husband said, "Hey, as you're recovering, why don't you wear your high-tops?" And so, I got women's basketball shoes, white, clunky. And then, I found these, and I said, well, these I can wear. So I wore them to the first class I had after my accident and I was hobbling around, and I wore these shoes. And it happened to be at a time, where they do learning group formation, which is they divide into groups. There's a lot of angst to that. Anyway, so these have become my learning group formation sneaks.

Moving forward, the next 10 years has got to be an exciting time. I mean, we are at the cusp of so many things, and one thing is this fourth Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things, how is artificial intelligence going to augment the work that happens in organization? We are at the precipice of some major changes, and I think that organizational development needs to be engaged in the discussion, the dialogue, the new forms of organizing that are going to happen through the use of technology. It is every revolution, every Industrial Revolution has made some new form of organizing.

The Industrial Revolution with the steam engine, and et cetera, changed the way. It changed from cottage industries to industrial factories. This time is as revolutionary as that. So how are we going to organize new forms of working, new forms of interaction between human and machine, I think is going to explode. And I think that graduates of this program, faculty in this program can give new insights to what that might be based on ethics and based on human values. So how do we retain the humanity within this phase of technology? So that blending of humanity and technology is critical, I think to our planet. We might be able to solve environmental issues with some things that are happening. We might be able to solve some health issues. There are big societal problems forthcoming, which is the other place I think organizational development needs to play.

I look at systems working with other systems to save the planet, to increase health for all human beings. I think there is huge opportunity for organizational development in the world. Not only in the next 10 years, but in the next foreseeable future. Those are some things I am pretty excited about getting involved in. New forms for me as well. It kind of captures my creativity and interest in that, but it's always humanity and technology.