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MSc Student Spotlight: Lily Cubrilo

Last week we sat down with one of the current participants of our Masters in People and Organisational Development, Lily Cubrilo. Lily shared some fascinating insight into her journey on the course to date as well as any advice she might have for those thinking of enrolling on the next running of the MSc.

Thank you for agreeing to talk to us, Lily. Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, no problem at all. So, I currently share my time between Sydney and a tiny beachside village on the New South Wales coastline, Australia, after meeting my husband nearly 15 years ago. Interestingly, both of my parents are originally from the former Yugoslavia and emigrated when they were young adults and met in Melbourne so I have grown up with a Serbian Croatian history line.

My career began in Engineering before finding my feet in the Consulting sector. Currently, I am the founder of KiWhole Consulting (4 years now), but overall I have been practising for nearly 30 years.

So, how did you hear about Roffey Park Institute’s MSc in People and Organisational Development?

I had been thinking of doing an MSc qualification for a while. Since leaving engineering my journey has been exploratory and mostly learning on my feet and through others, but I had not sought an academic route up until now. A couple of my colleagues had been involved with Roffey Park before so it was through word of mouth really. I was not sure of what qualification I wanted to do exactly but I looked more deeply into what organisational development was and it felt like the perfect fit for me.

Being in Australia it would have been highly difficult to participate in the 2020 running due to it being mostly face-to-face. As soon as Roffey Park went online, my colleague and I enrolled.

Great. How are you managing studying for the MSc alongside a full-time working role?

It has been difficult, to be honest. Perhaps I was a little naïve, or I underestimated my capacity to maintain the level of work I would normally do alongside the MSc. I think if I were to do it again, it would be helpful to know realistically how difficult it would be to keep the workloads up on both fronts.

Preparation and evaluation of both workloads would put you in good stead going forward. Making sure that you have enough time to do both would be my tip, and that may require saying no to some work which is one of the most difficult things you could ask a consultant to do.

Thank you for being so honest. Next then, what have you learnt from the dialogic learning set process?

I have loved the dialogic aspect of the learning process. My undergraduate degree is in engineering and that is very mathematical and very formulaic, so I had no reference point for learning in a cohort at tertiary level. My dialogic learning group has certainly helped me through the process.

The first group that I was in – for nearly the full year now – has allowed us to develop a great connection. It is the support aspect of the dialogic process that has helped me successfully overcome some challenges that I have faced.

That is really nice to hear. What has been the most interesting or impactful thing that you have learnt so far from the course?

The most interesting thing has to be the people that I have met, their experiences and connections to other workplaces and their different skill sets and ways of thinking. The way the MSc has asked us to systematically look at what underpins OD, how OD was founded and its intention, has helped to connect me to the body of work. Also, how the people have helped pave the OD path – I’ve loved that aspect.

The other part that I have found impactful on myself is the idea that unconsciously we all grow up in a patriarchal model, which is a model based upon looking upwards and pleasing someone else. I have really enjoyed coming to terms with my own internalised patriarchal model. Do I want to get a good mark because that tells me I am capable or competent? For me, that is one of the last frontiers of being a good OD practitioner; to let go of that reliance on someone else’s mark of approval but to find our own path, whilst remaining connected to others.

What would you say to somebody sceptical about enrolling on the MSc?

You have to know why you want to do it and what your motivation is. You need to be real with your expectations of yourself and the demands that you have on your life. Also, you need to understand what time you have to give and then decide if all of that adds up for you.

Are you coming into this course to add another qualification? Are you enrolling to learn and deepen your understanding and challenge yourself? Are you participating to create connections within the industry that you know and love? Once you know why you are enrolling, make that your focus and then surprises are ‘icing on the cake’.

Finally, what would be your top tip of advice for a future participant?

My top tip would be to know why you are enrolling and really stick with that. For myself, it was the love of learning and I am doing that wholeheartedly throughout the course. If I come in with that mindset, I can let go of the grade knowing that I am learning. Then I ask myself, did I learn? If so then that is a positive outcome.

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