Chienye Ogwo, the CEO of Africa Initiative for Governance in Nigeria, is a lifelong learner who aspires to be at the cutting edge of her work. Seeking the knowledge and skills to maximize the impact she and her organization have on positive change, she attended the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management (SPNM) program at Harvard Business School Executive Education. In this interview, she describes what she gained from attending the program.
Q. What are the biggest challenges facing your field or organization today?
Before Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management, I wanted to determine the right key performance indicators for my organization and how to measure performance in an area where impact is not very easy to measure, especially in the short term. I was also focused on how to sustainably expand and scale our impact.
Q. How has your time at the program helped you to tackle these challenges?
It was extremely valuable to work through the case studies, follow the journeys that led those organizations to clarify their missions, and break down the work from inputs through to impacts. I don't often get the time to do this kind of dissection when I am at work facing the issues at hand, so it was valuable for me to step away and process these cases. SPNM gave me the general, practical tools to go back and rethink these issues and, at the same time, the liberating affirmation that there isn't a one-size-fits-all fix. This experience prepared me to creatively apply these insights to my own unique context.
Q. What was the most rewarding aspect of the program?
The most rewarding part was seeing, through the case studies, how other CEOs and organizations dealt with similar issues that my organization has to manage today. I was able to learn from other people's experience. It was great to have access to that wealth of knowledge and experience all in one place.
Q. What part of the program surprised you the most?
The biggest surprise was the amazing group of participants. My living group was truly talented, warm, lively, wise, and supportive, and we all seemed to complement each other in terms of strengths, experience, insight, and the advice that we shared. Now we schedule regular calls to catch up on each other's lives and work, offer support, and celebrate wins. I never expected to leave the program with such an amazing close circle of friends in just one week.
Q. How did the participant mix contribute to the learning experience?
Given that participants were from different parts of the world, it was great to hear the fresh and diverse insights that they had into certain situations. Gaining access to different perspectives from different people who have handled similar challenges in various contexts really helped me stretch my mind and think outside the box.
Q. What inspires you about your work?
I am inspired by impact—that I can call people's attention to something that is important and spur them into positive action. Being able to make a difference in people's lives and in situations, to be part of positive change, is extremely motivating for me.
This post was originally published on the HBS Executive Education Testimonials page.