Friday, 4 July 2014

LEARNING CURVE: Pat Ramsay discovers a whole new approach to leadership at Harvard

FRESH TAKE: "The best adventure is always opening up yourself to new knowledge."

Pat Ramsay is a Harvard woman now, having embarked on the year-long Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI), which wraps in December, at the venerable North-American university - an experience Ramsay says is unlike any other she's ever had. 

This coming from a Jamaican icon and a seasoned global citizen who's had her share of transformative life experiences over the years, particularly through her work advancing women's issues, the cultural arts, and youth empowerment. "It has been the most amazing experience of my life," she tells TALLAWAH in a masterpiece of emphasis. "I think I have had a major shift in my life with this experience." 

The ALI, she goes on to explain, is a highly esteemed programme featuring individuals who have played leadership roles in their respective countries and are now in the second stage of their lives. "You have to have a project, so mine is with a bunch of different college students from all over the world: Greece, India, Mexico, Thailand and the United States," she reflects. "We did a programme that's quite similar to what I've been doing here in Jamaica with my mentorship programme, and it's just terrific." 

But, in the same breath, Ramsay (currently home on "vacation" till July 28) confesses that it hasn't been all smooth sailing. "I was having challenges in the beginning, but my professor simply said, 'Unlearn to learn.' Meaning, we don't want to be stuck in the same thought processes we've grown accustomed to as leaders; we want to to take leadership to the next level," Ramsay says. "And so that is what I had to do, and it has been the most enlightening part of the whole programme. It has seriously put me in a different place. You realize that regardless of how old you are, the best adventure is always opening up yourself to new knowledge." 

Sharing the year-long journey with a brilliant mix of colleagues comprised of PhDs, post-grad distinction holders, Masters candidates and Fulbright scholars from all over the world, Ramsay is in fine company. Her instructor, to drive the point home, is none other than Professor Michael Ganz, who co-organized President Barack Obama's first election campaign and has worked with the likes of the late Hugo Chavez. "At this stage, I feel fully focussed," Ramsay insists. "And the knowledge I have gained, the experience and the exposure, I can't wait to come back home and share it with my young people so that they can turn it into reality." 

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