Cory Hancock is a public affairs officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF). When he first came to NSF, it was new territory as he had transitioned from civilian roles with the Army and Department of Defense. After searching for leadership programs, he chose Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning’s Managing Individual & Organizational Change program to challenge himself to continue to evolve as a professional and a leader.

Why did you choose the Managing Individual & Organizational Change program?

I have always believed in the importance of continuing education. While I was a civilian employee for the Army, I took several leadership courses. When I transitioned to NSF, it was my first time at a civilian government agency. It was important to me to find a program that would broaden my perspectives outside of the defense space. My mom is a UVA alumna and UVA has a strong reputation. It was appealing to me that the tools taught in the programs at Darden could be applied to business or government. I also knew that the quality of instruction and my cohort would be high.

What perspectives were you able to take away from the program?

I found the case studies in the program to be so useful because they gave you a different way to look at things. I particularly remember a case study about GE when they had a technical school and how they structured it. I remember thinking how they had things structured was not something I would have thought of and could take back pieces and apply in my job. My peers also brought different perspectives to discussions and I always felt accomplished at the end of each day of the program knowing I learned something new that I could apply going forward. I did not feel like I was just taking a course, but that I was a legitimate student learning and challenging myself every day.

How would you describe your interactions with your peer participants?

Our cohort ended up being virtual due to COVID and it could have been easy to sit back and watch others participate. However, the professors did a phenomenal job at encouraging participation from everyone. Despite being virtual, I felt that I formed meaningful relationships with my classmates and that the professors created an environment of respect. My cohort was comprised of many different professional backgrounds and diversity of thought, which helped me to develop new perspectives and grow.

What would you say to someone who is considering the program but they’re unsure if they’re the right fit or concerned about the time commitment?

I would say just do it. If you’re even considering a course, then you’re considering investing in yourself, which means you should take the leap of faith. Not only is Darden a top-rated school, but the professors treat you like their equal and guide as you’re learning the material. They’re also very accessible outside the classroom and want to get to know you. Darden provides a participant experience unlike any other that I have experienced in past programs that I’ve participated in elsewhere. They have an amazing gift of making you feel like a part of the community even in such a short amount of time.

Learn more about Managing Individual and Organizational Change and how it may help you reach your career or organizational goals.