Muthu Chandrasekaran, Senior Vice President, Energy Pipelines at Pure Technologies Ltd., explains how the Ivey Leadership Program (2017) has given him a high level of confidence and a framework to continually evolve as a leader.
Why did you choose Ivey, and in particular, the Ivey Leadership Program (ILP)?
Our organization did a custom program for our leadership team a few years ago on finance and accounting, and it was just awesome. The reason we considered Ivey initially was because our Chairman had been to Western and did his MBA there. Personally, I’ve had a lot of family members go through the Ivey HBA program that have told me how great the program is – everything from the quality of the faculty to the case study methodology. So there’s a track record that’s unparalleled in my own mind.
As for the Ivey Leadership Program in particular, our CFO had targeted it and sent four of us as “guinea pigs.” Again, the experience was just amazing. The Ivey Leadership Program is now a part of – and a natural extension of – our internal leadership development program.
How did the faculty shape your learning experience over the course of the program?
The faculty team are second to none. They don’t just know the subject matter they are teaching, but they are able to bridge the theory to the real world based on their personal experiences. The link between theory and practice really helps to understand the concepts they are discussing. They also have an innate ability to engage the whole classroom while keeping the conversation focused – that makes all the difference. You can have the best materials in the world to work from, but it was the personality and the experience learning from the faculty team that made it so amazing.
What aspects of the program were most valuable to you?
The peer group was one area I found useful. I learned a lot from the individuals that I took the program with. I went in as a member of a company in the private sector, and I wasn’t expecting to learn much from the participants who work in the public sector. After the course, I discovered that I learned a lot from them, particularly because they have to do more with much less from a budgetary perspective. And then there were classmates from global companies like Bayer, a well-oiled machine with an extensive track record. The diversity among the program participants was important.
Have you found peers that you can continue to use as sounding boards, referrals and lifelong friends?
Absolutely. There are individuals from the program, I know that if I emailed them right now, I know that I would get a response today and we would be able to get on the phone and have a conversation about whatever issue I’m facing.
What impact has ILP had on your career?
I can’t quite quantify it, but the program has given me a high level of confidence.
I came right out of a master’s program into Pure Technologies – I’ve never worked anywhere else. Because I’ve had the opportunity to make a lot of mistakes, it has given me a meaningful perspective. Being able to share this perspective with peers in similar roles in well-developed organizations has helped me to understand what’s working for me and what I need to work on. This program has made me understand that some of the tools and core competencies that I have are effective, and that really helped a lot. That’s not to say I don’t have a lot to work on – I do – but context is really important in one’s career and it gave me a lot of confidence to compare how I’m doing with my peers and know that I’m doing well.
Has your leadership style transformed as a result of the program?
It has transformed and is continuing to evolve. The program is structured so that the learnings aren’t “one-and-done” – the learning is constant. I’m always thinking about what I’ve done as a leader in a constant feedback loop. You’re never going to make the right choices all the time, but I’m constantly performing an objective self-analysis in order to get better. To be a great leader, I think you have to do that.
How did ILP compare to your expectations?
My expectations were met and more, as far as the case study method is concerned. I believe in the teaching method, it’s a great way for me to learn.
As far as the program is concerned, I was blown away. I still have my program materials, I kept all of the case studies that we used, and I even recite the case studies we used among my own team! Being able to share experiences among classmates and faculty, and then apply it to what I do on a daily basis – it’s so valuable.
What advice would you have for someone considering taking ILP?
Just do it! Leadership is in everything that we do. At any level of management – it doesn’t matter if you’re leading five people or 5000 people – there is a common leadership methodology. It’s a soft skill that needs to be learned and it’s not something I learned in university or at engineering school. I think it’s something that you need to hone over the years. I wish I had started down the path of leadership training much earlier in my life, though it’s never too early to start that journey. If you want to be a great leader, it’s like anything else – you have to practice. This program is a great way to kick-start that process. It certainly helps to have at least some level of leadership experience coming into the program.
The Ivey Academy is ranked as one of the top Executive Education providers globally by Financial Times. The Open-Enrolment portfolio comprises 19 programs focused on core leadership, business acumen, and industry-specific skills. Open programs are typically three days to three weeks in length, and are held at both our Toronto and London campuses. Our Custom Academy business unit works with corporations, governments, and other NGOs and non-profits to design and execute development and training programs tailored to the client’s specific needs. Custom Academy programs are typically multi-cohort, multi-year endeavours, supporting executive, HR and L&D objectives, and run either at our Toronto and London campuses or globally based on client preference. All Ivey Academy programs are deeply experiential in nature, concentrating as much on behaviour change as knowledge transfer.