How online learning helped Ravina Kumar be a better leader
“The course taught me that, as leaders, we face the same problems and solutions no matter where we are in the world or what industry we are in.”
Ravina Kumar works for global location data and technology company HERE Technologies, jointly owned by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Intel and several other firms, where she leads a team based in different countries.
Keen to sharpen her leadership skills but with little time to study between work and caring for her young family, Ravina enrolled in the MBS Leadership Program (online).
"Obviously, Melbourne Business School's name gave it an edge, but the content was what I wanted, plus the flexibility of being online," she says.
"You're in class once a week for a few hours and then working through the assignments to absorb what you've learned."
Aspects of the program that Ravina particularly valued include the peer coaching and 360-degree assessment delivered during the course, in which peers and colleagues gave feedback on her leadership style, which helped make her approach more effective.
"I learned to be more attentive with stakeholders by actively listening to their concerns and addressing their points of view to get a win-together decision," she says.
Forming a network with the like-minded people she studied with was another enduring benefit of the MBS Leadership Program (online) for Ravina.
“They ranged from doctors to bankers, business professionals, software experts and building designers,” she says.
“While it's easy to assume that each person in a different industry or part of the world is dealing with a different challenge, the truth is that many business issues are shared by professionals everywhere.
“As a peer group, all seven of us continue to get together once a month with other professionals in our field to discuss challenging situations and share ideas on how to best approach them.”
During the program, Ravina's peer group helped each other face their challenges by sharing experiences from their own working lives – even the sensitive ones.
“It’s good to share an unfavourable experience with your team. While you might feel vulnerable, it goes a long way to building trust and relationships. One of our peer group did that and received tons of messages saying it was something that everybody had probably experienced but lacked the courage to speak about.”
One of Ravina's challenges was about how to work with senior leaders to make important decisions. In her case, support came not just from her peer group, but one of the course facilitators as well.
“I made use of a framework known as polarity mapping to help with decision-making among the C-suite on one of my workplace projects, and it was really appreciated. Cameron, the facilitator, helped by always checking in to see if anybody needed guidance on a program topic or professional scenario that you might be engrossed in.
"I shared my problem with him, and he was phenomenal. I had the peer group as well. They were your equals and completely on board. You’re not being judged by them because they are on the same journey and learning curve."
With time being such a precious commodity in her life, Ravina says the program's format, content and flexibility was just what she needed.
"It was very short and swift, with daily activities in each session, followed up by the instructors and facilitators. It was perfect in terms of having the best time management for my work-life balance.
"You were also preparing to have real work challenges talked about – going into groups to talk about them and coming back. I liked that very much."
The program also confirmed Ravina's view that leaders aren't necessarily born that way.
“You can become a leader by learning the necessary skills and making the effort to evolve. It’s no different to the professional education you need to become an engineer or doctor. Leadership is a skill that can be learnt too.”