Operations Manager, Digital Health Office at Baylor Scott & White Health
Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics, University of Pennsylvania '21—expected
Bachelor of Arts in Business and Finance, Vanderbilt University ‘13
“If there is anything that the pandemic has emphasized, it’s the need for compassion and resilience,” says Halee Watel (Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics '21—expected). “Our personal and professional lives changed rapidly and repeatedly. The ability to pivot has never been more essential.”
Halee initially pursued the Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics program to become a more effective organizational and people leader. “I wanted to join a program that would provide me with skills I could deploy in everyday scenarios within my workplace and also challenge me to grow as a human,” she explains.
The Organizational Dynamics program turned out to be even more human-centered than Halee expected. “One of the most wonderful surprises of the program is the level of openness—from faculty and students. My classmates have shared personal details, emotions, triumphs, traumas, and missteps. The willingness to reflect upon these experiences has accelerated my own learning,” she says. “I did not ever expect to connect with my graduate school classmates in this way, to this depth.”
Prior to the pandemic, Halee flew in from Dallas to take courses on the weekends. She attributes this level of sharing to the sense of safety and community her instructors cultivated within the classroom. “The MSOD faculty understands that we are human, and our unique perspectives and stories are valued equally. When the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Dynamics courses shifted to remote learning, Halee missed being in the classroom but appreciated how well instructors maintained a collegial connection online. “The level of learning and insight is the same, but you're employing new techniques to connect and build rapport in a virtual environment,” she says. “We were able to build strong relationships in a digital space. It was very fulfilling,” Halee says.
Halee created an individualized curriculum to take courses across different specializations. Among them was a course on leadership development, which she says broadened her understanding of what leadership entails. “Frontiers of Leadership Development taught me leadership skills that I would have never even have considered, and a way of relating to people that makes you a more empathetic leader,” she recalls. “From a personal and professional development standpoint, that class really opened a lot of doors for me.”
In another course, the concept of design thinking helped Halee set the course for her capstone research project. “Design thinking aims to give you a very deep understanding of your user or customer,” she explains. “In my opinion, it’s the gold standard for product and process design methodology. By asking the right questions, we can understand the explicit needs of the user and uncover their implicit needs to design an exceptional solution. I use design thinking methodology frequently.
“This is the safest, most inclusive, and supportive community that I have ever been a part of,” she adds. “You are going to walk away from this program with a deeper understanding of yourself, an arsenal of new professional skills, and new friends. I certainly did!”