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My Decision to Pursue a PhD in Organizational Development


Thu Sep 06 2012


“Good Morning! My name is Nandi, and I’m an ENFP.”

“Hi Nandi,” I always envision them saying back to me. And at that very moment, I awake from my recurring dream/nightmare...


 Leave it to my fellow MBAs and the rest of the business world to make me feel like “my kind” deserves its very own support group and 12-step recovery process. Being too feely or relying on your intuition too heavily (as identified by my Myers Briggs Type--extraversion, intuition, feeling, perception) is often viewed as a weakness, at least in the mainstream business disciplines. So, you can imagine how relieved I was when I found out that training and development existed!

As I refine my skills and begin to map the possibilities of my ENFP future, I have realized how much I also enjoy learning and creating new knowledge for others. This joy, along with my desire to create a framework for my consulting/coaching career, led me to pursue my doctoral degree.

Many people ask and wonder why I chose to pursue my PhD in Organization Development at Benedictine University. I have also been questioned several times about my choice in dissertation focus and how I intend to use my work to further the field. Let’s pretend you asked, and review this step-by-step.

Why PhD? I always liked the sound of Dr. Shareef. More importantly and less egotistically, I desire to add value to both the academic and practitioner fields through research, modeling, and application.

Why Organization Development? Training is great, but it’s only an intervention. My desire is to affect an organization holistically by drafting strategy, designing structure, analyzing group dynamics, and providing several means of intervention to ensure a “refrozen” (as much as possible) organization at the conclusion of an institutionalized change effort.


Why Benedictine University? Under the direction of the world-renowned Peter Sorenson, BenU’s PhD in Organization Development is a full-time cohort-based program geared specifically toward the scholar-practitioner. I am the youngest and least experienced in our Cohort of 17. Once a month, jam-packed into a 20-hour weekend of class and while listening to our amazing professors, I get to exchange ideas with and debate senior executives of corporate, government, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as consultants and entrepreneurs.

And for those 20 hours and the next three years, we are peers. Furthermore, with one-half of us being MBAs and the other one-half Masters in Organizational Behavior, I have the opportunity to glean insight and best practices from them. On average, they possess 15 years of work experience each. This is huge for me as I am an auditory learner who processes and problem solves through conversation. It is one of the most amazing and beautiful times in my young life. Where else in the world could I ever experience this?

Why the dissertation focus? “You’re probably too young to remember this, but…” This statement makes my skin crawl.  It is the bane of my existence. And, I hear it at work at least once a week. Call this my feely side coming out, but I believe that ultimately these types of statements drive a wedge between older and younger employed stakeholders within a company.  They are only slightly endearing outside of the workplace.

To provide some solace for my soul—and in an effort to abolish the use of such phrasing, I have focused my dissertation on “Millennials in Today’s New Normal Workplace.” I hypothesize that through the engagement and empowerment of already high-potential and high performing Millennials, organizations may increase overall loyalty and retention as well as productivity and organizational longevity.

What are my intentions for the field? Ultimately, my hope is to provide organizations in every sector with the tools they need to mobilize Millennial troops. As we struggle to recover from the downturn, we have enough uncertainty surrounding the state of our economy. Although stability is a figment of our imaginations, we will be much closer to continuity by engaging the hearts and minds of those who can carry the torch. This requires a paradigm shift…one that is so desperately needed to ensure success.


I am forever hopeful for the opportunity to finish out my ENFP support group/12-step dream in this manner: After I’m greeted by fellow feeleys, I envision a time in which I share the profound affect that my business models and processes have made on my Fortune 500 clients. By not abandoning my true self and instead cultivating it over three years of doctoral studies, I will have established the meeting point and interaction of sound business and human systems. It’s a lofty vision, but someone has to dream it. And, sharing it is certainly the first step.

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