Susan Gassson
Dr. Susan Gasson, Senior Lecturer with James Cook University

When Dr. Susan Gasson came to Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) to attend an Executive Education program, she was eager for some inspiration. Feeling stagnant in her organization at the time, she was ready to challenge herself, learn new theoretical frameworks to approach her work, and gain the network and skills needed to advance her career in a way she was excited about.

Her time in the Women and Power program was able to provide her with exactly that. Upon returning to her organization after completing the program, Susan felt rejuvenated. “I approached my work with fresh eyes and brought novel solutions into conversations and working group discussions,” she said. “I felt refreshed and ready to meet new challenges and opportunities. Activities during the program allowed me to develop a career advancement plan aimed at realizing my personal goals.”

Not only did the program allow her to bring even more value to her role at the time, it also helped advance her towards her current role as Senior Lecturer with James Cook University (JCU) in Queensland, Australia. “I hoped to become more involved in research, and have more time to write. My academic role at JCU provides those opportunities. Without the Women and Power program, and the supportive community, I doubt I would have been able to formulate and articulate my goals, and would certainly have struggled to achieve them.” Susan has also completed her PhD at Queensland University of Technology since her time at HKS, another goal she had been working towards. 

The program cohort is what Susan most specifically credits with helping her reach these impressive goals. “The program provided wonderful networking opportunities. The element of the program I found most valuable was time spent working in small career planning groups. Members of my group came from very different business sectors, with varied educational backgrounds, and disparate job roles and career aspirations,” she said. “We all appreciated having dedicated time to reflect on our jobs and career plans, and the opportunity to do this work in such a supportive environment. The group context transformed the process of creating career goals and plans into an engaging and rewarding experience.”

Despite having checked many items off her list of professional goals, Susan is continually working towards higher heights. Looking forward, she hopes to gain grant funding to advance her research work overseas, disseminate her findings through books and conferences, and realize social benefits and impacts from her work.