Michael Matarazzo (ILF2017)


Institution: Harvard Business School (USA)
Course: Program for Leadership Development

Firstly, thank you to the Industry Leaders Fund for giving me the opportunity to study at Harvard Business School and for their generous support enabling me to attend the Program for Leadership Development.

The ILF application process was straight forward, being primarily online and involving 3 stages. The first stage is simple and doesn’t require a large time investment. It is mainly focused on personal background, education and employment history. The most difficult part of this stage is deciding how to use the grant and which course to study.

To help with this decision the ILF host information evenings at their offices on Greenhill road where there is an opportunity to discuss with the representatives from many Universities. Geoff was also a great resource and was the one to suggest that I should apply for a course offered by Harvard Business School.

The second stage of the application process, again completely online, is much more in depth. The questions require personal reflection regarding your strengths and weaknesses, leadership style and career path. At this point you are also required to lock in a course of study. The second stage of the application process is an extremely valuable exercise to undertake. It forces you to pause and consider the future. Not just for yourself but for your employer and the wider South Australian community. Personally, I felt I had gained a great benefit in going through this stage. It helped me develop a better understanding of myself, my career path and the gaps in my leadership capabilities.

Stage three is by far the most daunting; an interview with the board members of the ILF who are, some of South Australia’s most prominent leaders. However, upon arrival to the interview, any nerves quickly dissipate. Even though the questions posed are tough and thought provoking, the atmosphere is relaxed and casual and it is all over within 10 minutes. The questions asked mainly focused on how the funding would be utilised, the course of study chosen and how it would benefit the South Australian economy.

The course I chose was The Program for Leadership Development which is an accelerated alternative to an MBA. Taking only one year, the course is specifically designed to develop strong leadership skills and foster innovation. The programme brings together high potential individuals, at various stages in their careers, with the aim to develop tomorrow’s leaders. PLD was a highly intensive and interactive course, leveraging the experiences and perspectives of a cohort of 260 people from all over the globe.

The complete immersion of PLD was an amazing opportunity to reflect, learn and grow as a leader. From the large scale classroom discussion of the case studies to the one-on-one coaching, the programme was tailored to developing the key skills required to become a leader in today’s fast paced and ever changing world. Lifelong friendships were formed in the living groups and my personal network has now expanded to a global scale. I can honestly say that the experience has not only transformed me as a leader but as an individual.

Again, I thank Geoff and the Board of the ILF for facilitating this life changing opportunity, which I may otherwise have thought to be unobtainable.