Dr. Nefertiti duPont, Gynecologic Oncologist at North Houston Gynecologic Oncology Surgeons, recently completed Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning’s (EELL) Collaboration and Influence program, a self-paced online program that helps leaders become more influential by honing skills in negotiation, managing key relationships and effectively handling pushback. This program is part of her journey to earn her Certificate in Leadership & Management at Darden. Read more about her experience in Collaboration and Influence and how she’s applying it in her job today.

Why did you choose to pursue a Certificate in Leadership & Management at Darden?

I earned my Masters in Public Health about 10 years ago, and I wanted to take current courses to build on what I learned in my master’s program. If you think about the pandemic, it highlighted a lot of leadership failures and successes. As a leader, I aways want to get better and do better. I chose to pursue a Certificate in Leadership & Management to show that I am a lifelong learner and do want to always improve my skillset.

Why did you specifically choose Collaboration and Influence?

I’ve been involved in organized medicine with my state and county’s medical society. When you interact with other physicians, there are inevitably conflicts and ways that you can say or do things better. My goal is just to be a better version of myself. I also liked that the program was online and self-paced. As a busy professional, it’s not always easy to make time for professional development. With this program, I didn’t have to rush through lessons and could complete coursework as I had time.

What was something memorable or valuable from the program?

I enjoyed how they taught us how to say things in a different way depending on what environment you’re in. They had several modules where they would have two actors, and they would each have a certain role. They would act out a scenario in multiple ways using different language to show that you can say things in many different ways and come across with different meanings. It was a new way of learning that I hadn’t experienced before.

There’s a book called Getting to Yes – and there are many ways to get to “yes” and have a win-win situation. The role playing showed us different ways to approach a problem or any situation where you’re trying to come to an agreement, whether that’s a contract or something else. The program taught me that there are different ways to accomplish something, and I appreciated that because sometimes we can all think our way is the only way, but as you look at how others see things and understand what’s important to them, you can come to a solution where all parties win.

How have you applied what you learned in Collaboration and Influence to your job?

I’m able to apply the skills I learned everyday – talking to patients, my colleagues or administrators. You’re always negotiating. You’re either trying to communicate your point of view or understand someone else’s point of view. The program teaches you to learn to listen carefully and understand what’s important for the other person, so we can find that win-win situation.

You also completed our Women in Leadership Program, which is held in-person. How would you say that experience compares with your online experience in Collaboration and Influence?

They’re different. I enjoyed both formats, and there are things to consider when taking either format. With the in-person program, I had to take time away from work and travel to Charlottesville, which also meant spending time away from my family as well. The online format allows you to take things at your own pace, and I appreciated the flexibility it provided with my busy schedule. If you’re needing that extra flexibility, then the online format could be a great fit for you.

Learn more about Darden EELL’s Certificate in Leadership & Management and explore upcoming programs.