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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

About Marco Cassone


My name is Marco Cassone and I graduated with omicron prime in 2014. My current role is change manager at Cisco Systems helping the finance organization do digital transformation.

My experience in the MSOD program was transformational. I look back it as a period of formation, probably reformation for myself. For 20 years prior, I had been an arts educator, so independent, traveling, touring musician and had been very effective in my role as the lead for learning design and delivery, as well as operations. I'd been effective, but the stage was small, if that makes sense. Global group traveling all over the place and really sought to help musical groups and performing arts centers and schools and universities understand how they're doing now and what does performance look like at a higher level.

My toolkit was small, and a lot of my experience was dependent upon audience, was dependent upon validation or applause. The program, the MSOD program shifted me from really being at the effect side to being at the cause side of change for people. It impacted my art to move from an art where I was dependent on a microphone or dependent on piano keys to embracing a concept called self as instrument. Self as instrument taught me that I am, by who I am, I am the tip of my paintbrush. I am the notes. I am, at any given moment, who I am in the world is my expression of my art.

The MSOD program really gave me tools, gave me lenses, and gave me the ability, at any given moment, to have my presence have an impact on the people that I'm being with, performing with, coaching to, consulting, and navigating the world.

My life as a former musician and arts educator prior to the MSOD program was a living laboratory for myself, so I would work with different stakeholders groups, schools, universities and got to experience how their ability to listen in different ways, shapes, or forms to what I was performing, singing, teaching, instructing, really shaped what was possible for me with them.

I started to understand listening as an intervention itself, as a constriction of what's possible or an opening. I did a lot of research for my own graduate work for Pepperdine to study listening. I want to be, for my legacy, really want to help my clients, the groups that I work with, those whom I coach to understand the power of their own listening. Are they listening critically? Are they listening to get to the point? Are they listening empathetically or appreciatively? To really understand how our own listening, how what we intentionally extract from the world causes something on our side and for somebody else.

So, how do we use transactional listening when that's appropriate? How do we move into move of a transformative space with our own listening? That's part of what I teach and share in my coaching and in my consulting work.

People don't think of the part of listening that for sure takes our attention, but it also can have intention in it. Am I listening to be right? Am I listening to argue a point next? Am I listening to get to the point? Which is appropriate in some cases, but there is also a generous listening that is possible. There's a listening that creates a space or creates an opening for insight or an opening for possibility. So, how do I create mini change agents by virtue of how they are being in the world as well? And have people be more aware of what they're extracting or pulling from a situation, what they're pulling into and listening for, not listening to. Listening for.

If you think about it, there's the orchestra of what's happening at any given time. We can listen in a room. We can listen for humor. We can listen for compassion. We can listen for things. We can listen for those kinds of conversations and pull them forward and give them more space. So, how do we actually have that be a cause in what we're creating?

Within the next 10 years, I'm going to appreciatively garner all that I'm learning in massive, large systems. I'm currently in high tech and working with 140,000 employee system. It is like trying to turn a massive ship. In the next 10 years, I want to take the realities of that kind of complexity and help small teams and individuals, smaller systems understand how to do their best and be their best. So, my own executive coaching firm, and really, I picture, whether ... I picture a boat or a ship.

If I'm working with a large system, it might be a ship, but behind me, there's a big wave that is rippling out. If it's a boat, it might be a little bit faster and more nimble, but there is also a wave rippling out. My engine starts small in the water, but it leads to more and more possibilities as different people that I help wake up to their own ability to serve others, to listen differently, to be overt or secret change agents, and to be committed to making a difference in the world.

In the next 10 years, I want to see big ripples of people who have gone on to do fantastic things by waking up to what's possible for them.

I, for a while, had a role serving the organization development network, specifically working with all the top tier schools and was so impressed learning about the reputation of Pepperdine's program and how we were viewed really clearly and with immense respect and strength across the field of OD. It was such a pleasure to, not only be inside of the MSOD program, but then also understand the perceptions that it creates and the perceptions that are created by so many in our line who are doing great work in the world with Pepperdine as a banner. Love that.