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Leadership for Life Alumni Newsletter

Fall 2005: Christopher Rogers Extols His Singapore LDP Experience

Michael Kowal
Christopher Rogers
Leadership Development Program (LDP)® - Asia, 2005

Being a world traveler is all part of the job for Christopher Rogers. As vice president of Global Information Technology for Tampa-based Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated, he logs several trips a year to visit his company's operations in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Business travel agrees with him; the jet lag doesn't. That was one reason why the Leadership Development Program in Singapore held a lot of appeal earlier this year.

"I was working out of Manila, and Singapore is just three and half hours away," he says. "Taking the LDP there instead of coming back to the U.S. meant I wouldn't have jet lag or be tired or lose work time."

Fate, however, intervened. Laughing at the irony he says, "As it turned out, I had to be in the U.S. for a meeting the week before the program started... and so I ended up flying across the world after all."

That unanticipated long haul didn't dampen Roger's enthusiasm. "I very much wanted to come to the Asia program so my fellow learners would be people who lived and worked in the environment that I did. I knew from speaking with colleagues who had taken the LDP that a lot of the benefit comes from the interaction you have with peers in the class. I thought it would be tremendous to receive feedback about leadership traits and strengths and opportunities through the eyes of a culture with which I interacted."

It was the first LDP to be offered at the Center's newly established campus in Singapore, and Rogers describes the makeup of that premiere class as the "perfect mixture." The group included several Westerners like himself who lived and worked in the region, but the majority of the participants were Asian. Nine nationalities were represented.

Reluctant to say goodbye, about a dozen members of the class lingered on the final day to share lunch and give feedback on the program. "The overwhelming reaction was that it had been wonderful," says Rogers. "Singapore was beautiful The facilities were very modern. And we were thrilled to have such a wide diversity in the nationalities and the cultures and the professions of the people who were there."

Roger's company, a leading technical support and customer-service provider, believes in developing all its local management in regions of the world and has used LDP as part of its executive development program for several years. What Rogers could report back to the Sykes leadership was that this LDP - multicultural ambience aside - delivered the same content as every other LDP. "That was important. We needed to ensure that when we send people to this program, our expectations of what they get out of it and what they learn will be consistent." Mission accomplished, all the way around.

When recently asked, to reflect on the lasting effects of his CCL experience, Rogers talks most about the feedback. "The real power of the course is how much you learn about yourself, not only through your own responses to the instruments but particularly around the 360 feedback. I sent the questionnaires very broadly across my organization, including local colleagues in the Philippines and people I worked with in the U.S. On one of them, 22 people responded."

"Just to be able to read and hear what such a broad group of people had to say about my strengths and opportunities and then compare that feedback with how I answered my own questions - the profile it painted of me was invaluable. I've really incorporated what I learned from that in both my personal life and my dealings with colleagues and direct reports. This awareness of myself and others has made me much more grounded, whether I'm having conversations with family members or interacting with people I work with in other parts of the world. It's helped me look at personalities, accept differences and not be so quick to jump to conclusions."

About a month after the program, Rogers was promoted to his current position and moved back to the company's Tampa offices. His responsibilities still keep him on the move, however. During his first five months stateside, he made a total of seven trips to Europe and the Far East. That's not going to be his normal schedule going forward - to his wife's relief. "My wife was like, 'Now wait a minute. I thought the idea was that we were moving home!'"