Taking time away from the day-to-day demands of your job to pursue professional development can be challenging. Yet the rewards–both personally and professionally–can be profound.

For many of our participants, the most valuable part of the professional development experience is identifying actionable tips and strategies that they can apply immediately upon the return to the office.

We asked several participants from recent Professional Development Programs to share why they chose to pursue professional development, what key takeaways they learned, and how they have used those takeaways to promote the success of their teams and advance their careers.

Here’s what they had to say. For more Success Stories, visit Participant Success Stories.

PDP Participant Stacie Calder

Stacie Calder

Vice President Sales & Marketing, Conquest Planning

Program: Building Organizational Cultures: A Framework for Leaders (on campus)

“The framework Lorne [Rubis] provided for thinking through how to build organizational facets was both really digestible and highly practical.”

Describe your Harvard PDP experience in one word: “Transformational

Adam Hawk

Adam Hawk

Executive Coach, Leadership & Management Consultant, Resources for Leading

Programs: Design Thinking: Creating Better Customer Experiences (in person); Advanced Business Strategy: Gaining a Competitive Edge (online); Creative Thinking: Innovative Solutions to Complex Challenges (online)

“…I use the models and frameworks I learned, every single one of them, nearly every day to help leaders and teams take their thinking to a more advanced level for themselves and for their organization.”

Describe your Harvard PDP experience in one word: “Fantastic, engaging, and highly accessible

Michael Mao

PDP Participant Michael Mao

Account Executive, Salesforce

Programs: Advanced Negotiation Skills; Advanced Design Thinking: Making Ideas a Reality in a Complex Business Environment

“Design thinking really helps me guide potential customers as they think through and respond to their unique business challenges in more innovative ways.”

Describe your Harvard PDP experience in one word: “Inspiring and fulfilling

Eugene Moore

Eugene Moore

Interim Assistant Director for TRIO McNair Scholars Program, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Program: Business Strategy: Evaluating and Executing the Strategic Plan

“Areen [Shahbari] was incredibly thoughtful in how she approached the program. She was phenomenal in her ability to bring out the best in participants from a wide range of different industries.”

Describe your Harvard PDP experience in one word: “Invigorating

Julie Rhoades

Julie Rhoades

Program Manager for LatinX Program Strategy, Blue Shield of California (BSC)

Program: Business Strategy: Evaluating and Executing the Strategic Plan (online)

“This program … really made clear the difference between a theoretical analysis and one grounded in real-life experience. … Now I feel much more comfortable applying these tools and actually putting them into practice.”

Describe your Harvard PDP experience in one word: “Outstanding

Lizbeth Sanchez-Arce

Lizbeth Sanchez-Arce
EJSP Visual – ORP Julieta Sarmiento Photography

Student, Master’s in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Program: Communication Strategies: Presenting with Impact (online)

“Jill [Slye] shared invaluable tips that have helped me to reduce my anxiety and negative self-talk around my presentations while conveying a message that encourages others to affect change through empowering presentations.”

Describe your Harvard PDP experience in one word: “Enlightening

Mary Wells

PDD Participant Mary Wells

Innovation and Educational Research, Director, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Program: Creative Thinking: Innovation Solutions to Complex Challenges (on campus)

“The Harvard PDP Creative Thinking provided me with the skills and confidence to more effectively foster a creative climate, harness individual and team ability for breakthrough thinking, and craft my own innovative ideas and solutions. The instruction was rooted in research, and the experiential component of the program allowed us to work on a challenge topic relevant for all participants. This combination prepared me to take the knowledge and practical exercises back to my company and apply and teach these right away to add value.”

Describe your Harvard PDP experience in one word: “Empowering