Cindy Dennis, Dr (ILF2015)


Institution: Harvard Business School (USA)
Course: General Management Program

In 2015, ILF granted me $20,000 to attend Harvard Business School and early in 2017 and I completed the five month General Management Program.

This experience was a big deal – for several reasons.

There are many things I could share about the direct positive impacts of ILF and Harvard, on my professional career and Lightforce. However, I believe these are both expected and well documented by others. What I would like to share is how my interaction with ILF has provided me with a depth and breadth of learning that is beyond what any world class education program can offer….. and that’s quite a feat!

Firstly, when I applied to ILF, I was flying solo as a parent to a then five year old. Why is this my first point? Because that’s the reality of life.

We are people first and everything else comes second. In a strange way, the opportunity to attend Harvard felt bitter sweet – I was unsure of the impact on my son.

To work through this, I learned to adopt a different mind-set, create and believe this was an opportunity for us both and communicate clearly to my loved ones that I intended to set an example: that anything is possible and one should always follow their dreams. Everything worked out very well in the end and I overheard my son proudly telling his friends that “Mum has gone to America to study potato chips” (the topic of one case study!).

ILF was both understanding and encouraging – a demonstration of their authentic approach to developing a diverse group of SA Leaders.

No less significant, was the conversations that began regarding my future role in our amazing Family Business – Lightforce Australia Pty Ltd. My Father, the founder of Lightforce, is an entrepreneur to the extreme and I think it’s fair to say that at the time, his visionary flair took precedence over the need to discuss my future role in the organisation.

Again ILF were there to connect me up with the right people, to support my navigation through this part of the process and ensure clarity for both myself and Lightforce.

(FYI, from an objective standpoint, future-proofing Lightforce as a global enterprise was and continues to be, a fascinating series of events)

Thirdly, my capacity to shape my world more consciously by “managing myself” has continued to evolve long after Harvard. Learning how to do this was helped greatly not only by ILF but the wonderful people I met during the course, many of whom I remain close with today. The skill to “manage myself” was pitched by one Harvard Faculty member as the most important thing one must learn as it impacts everything, every day.

I admire leaders who demonstrate this strength of character because I now better understand the leverage of this discipline and the responsibility that comes with it.

As the learning continues, I can only thank ILF for their belief in Lightforce and in me.

I can honestly say that my ability to contribute to SA in a variety of ways, has been directly enhanced through my association with both ILF and Harvard Business School.