Rhonda Choja, VP, Corporate and Advisory Services, at Libro Credit Union talks about how the Ivey Executive Program exposed her to new ways of thinking and helped her commit to continuous growth and learning as a leader.
What led you to take the Ivey Executive Program (IEP)?
I’m an advocate for lifelong learning and believe it enables people to maintain a growth mindset and adapt to our ever-changing environments. This includes a good balance between on-the-job experiences, external experiences, and formal learning. For me, it was time to learn from experts outside my industry and gain exposure to new ways of thinking in order to expand my strategic viewpoint and prepare myself for increased responsibilities.
How did the program compare to your expectations?
It’s fair to say that I had high expectations of the program based on the learning objectives and reputation of Ivey. In the end, the quality and expertise of the professors coupled with their ability to stretch you to be better and bring more of your true self to the table was incredible. It’s important as leaders that we learn from others and the design of this program creates a perfect collision of case study work and peer sharing that elevates the learning for everyone.
What were your biggest takeaways?
Our cohort came from very diverse backgrounds, industries, and levels of experience which made the takeaways very powerful. The key is that we’re all facing similar concerns or obstacles when it comes to moving our organizations forward. As a result, I was able to glean valuable learnings in relation to strategy development, leadership engagement, and change management from various perspectives that challenged my thinking as a leader.
How did the curriculum prepare you for the challenges you face at work?
We are in a time of exponential change and as a leader it’s important that I understand the keys to moving our organization forward successfully. Not only did the strategy, innovation, finance, and marketing sessions solidify how each of these aspects have inter-dependencies on organizational success, it was powerful to understand the impact we can have as a result of how we engage with others.
How has IEP changed your approach to leadership?
The various self-assessments and feedback mechanisms built into this program are impressive. You can see how they are designed to push you outside of your comfort zone and help you uncover real – and perceived – views people may have of you. I was able to reflect on my program experience with my team and commit to continuous growth and learning as a leader. Overall, I’ve learned to speak about myself differently and increase my commitment to servant leadership.
How will you approach your current role differently as a result of the program?
As a member of our leadership team, I’m committed (and more equipped) to bringing a broader perspective to strategic conversations by engaging my peers and executives with thought-provoking questions and insights that lead to forward-looking solutions and realizing our corporate vision. As a woman leader, I will be more aware of my strengths and have the courage to step forward fearlessly.
Have you found peers that you can continue to use as sounding boards, referrals, and lifelong friends?
Absolutely! This is an amazing by-product of the program. There’s a concentrated on-site effort put into cultivating a cohesive cohort. As a group, we’re put in situations that allow us to be vulnerable and inclusive which promotes bonding and meaningful learning. The atmosphere created by the faculty director, professors, and staff really allowed us to effectively lean on each other for support and encouragement. We’ve already planned a southwestern Ontario holiday luncheon to stay connected with those close by.
About The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School
The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School is the home for executive Learning and Development (L&D) in Canada. It is Canada’s only full-service L&D house, blending Financial Times top-ranked university-based executive education with talent assessment, instructional design and strategy, and behaviour change sustainment.
Rooted in Ivey Business School’s real-world leadership approach, The Ivey Academy is a place where professionals come to get better, to break old habits and establish new ones, to practice, to change, to obtain coaching and support, and to join a powerful peer network.