Bernice MooreOrganizational Systems Alumni 2009
There are two things that stand out in Bernice Moore’s mind about her education at Saybrook: that it was incredibly wide ranging, while allowing her to be incredibly specific.
“Saybrook has a strong humanistic tradition, and when you’re studying at Saybrook you can tap into all of it,” she says. “Psychology, social transformation, cross-cultural work, mind-body ideas ... all of this is important in organizational work, and when you study at Saybrook you have all of these traditions to draw upon to help you engage. It’s much more than just studying business development.”
At the same time, Bernice was amazed at how well she could draw from this rich and diverse tradition to specifically support the work she was already doing, and the work she wanted to do when she graduated.
“I’d been doing organizational work for years, and Saybrook really brought out and heightened my ability to operate in that world,” she says. “It’s exactly connected with what I’m doing now.”
Bernice says she’s long wanted a PhD to take her organizational and consulting work to the next level, and was connected to Saybrook through the Society for Organizational Learning, where she met Saybrook’s Organizational Systems degree program chair, Nancy Southern. She says she looked at a lot of programs because she didn’t want to just go through the motions to put some new letters after her name: she wanted an education that would matter.
“The doctoral work at Saybrook is quite different from a masters program and other academic work I’ve been involved in,” she says. “By the time you get through your courses you’re really focused on your own development as a scholar, and you’re trained on how to really do in-depth qualitative analysis. It’s so different an experience I don’t even know how to describe it, you’re doing your own work, investigating things that make a difference to you and to other people in the world.”
Today Bernice is working with a long roster of international clients – helping to design systems that allow teams from one country and culture to work effectively with teams from other cultures.
“My masters is in international policy, and I’ve worked internationally quite a bit in my career, and Saybrook really engaged with me on techniques of using methods of inquiry, methods of group practice, and helped me develop my work even further,” she says. “Both as president of ICO Consulting and working with (Saybrook faculty member) Yongming Tang’s (company) Global Leadership Institute, I’m working to grow cross-cultural capability and collaboration in organizations that are working internationally and focused on sustainability. ICO helps international groups and teams work together.”
Another large part of her work today involves developing rich media content for corporate training – and her Saybrook dissertation was on how to transform difficult experiences in the workplace using hermeneutic and synergic inquiry, using video technology to deepen qualitative analysis. “It was great,” she says. “It was fun, and hard. It was about really transforming difficult workplace issues into greater health and wellbeing for the people involved, and it exactly connected with what I’m doing now. I could see so much more through doing the dissertation.”
It’s not just about her career, though, it’s about making a difference in the world by providing the skills and expertise she has to offer.
“I think my interest has always been to create workplaces where people can thrive,” Bernice says. “It’s a beneficial thing for the evolution of the world: organizations have such breadth and depth to touch lives, and if people can do their best work there in a way that makes a difference in the world, that has a powerful impact. It sounds kind of idealistic, but I love organizational work. I love helping teams become high performing and leaders become not just ordinary leaders but exceptional leaders.”