Long-running program fosters IT leadership at Penn State

April 17, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Information technology is an ever-changing field. New technologies continually become available, and IT professionals must rise to the challenge of quickly learning and implementing them.

Thriving in such an environment requires skills beyond the mere technical; the ability to create strong interpersonal relationships is a must. Thanks to leadership and development programs like the IT Leaders Program (ITLP), Penn State’s IT workforce is prepared to meet the challenges of working within a 21st-century technology organization.

With 15 years of history at Penn State, ITLP has offered hundreds of IT staff members the ability to grow their leadership skills through an intensive nine-month program designed by MOR Associates. In recent years, the program has been supported by Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Michael Kubit, who is an alumnus of a MOR leadership program.

"Leadership development is a continuing journey, and it is personally rewarding to support the professional growth of new leaders in Penn State IT,” Kubit said about his involvement with ITLP. "Participating in a MOR program had a significant impact on my career. The lessons learned during my time in the program continue to be relevant for me today." 

Those lessons are brought to participants in a variety of ways. The program contains several parallel tracks, perhaps the most well-known of which are the five two-day workshops that focus on such topics as emotional intelligence and strategic thinking.

Beyond the classroom, ITLP also requires a commitment to personal growth. This includes an assessment of individual strengths and opportunities for improvement that inform personal goals participants set and work on throughout the program. With the assistance of “peer” coaches (other members of their ITLP cohort), professional coaches provided by MOR Associates, and “alumni” coaches (colleagues who have already completed the program), each participant has the opportunity to make the most of their experience.

All this individual work is also balanced by a final track that focuses on building a strong leadership community — both among the cohort itself, and at the University more generally. 

Mike Sullivan, a leadership coach with MOR Associates who led the most recent ITLP cohort at Penn State, emphasized the importance of this last track.

“The idea is to build a community that is sustainable at Penn State long after the program is done,” he said. “Leadership is not a function of the title you have, but a way you do your work. We believe that everyone can lead from where they are.”

Participants in the most recent cohort also expressed appreciation for the community that developed among them.

“The networking is priceless,” said JJ Murphy, an IT manager in the Office of the President and a member of the cohort. “The other part is you’ll get lenses into other areas and issues that you don’t always see very clearly but other people bring perspective to. And that is so powerful.”

Murphy also spoke highly of Kubit’s involvement, saying he attended every meeting and often shared lessons from his personal leadership journey.

“He [Kubit] was definitely open, and he really provided some great insight into his path forward,” Murphy said. “I always think that is a great thing, when somebody can just be very open and be honest.”

In addition to ITLP, Penn State also provides other leadership and development programs for IT staff, including the popular IT Mentors program.

Last Updated April 17, 2019