Leadership Advancement Program: “Are We Hard Wired for Change?

On Tuesday June 26th, CFA Society New York hosted the Kaplan Professional Sponsored-Leadership Advancement Program: Are We Hard Wired for Change? This event was the introductory series to Kaplan Professional’s ELEVEN- a leadership development program. This series was put in place to offer attendees an educational learning experience on driving and adapting to change.

The event with over 106 attendees, was led by Milo-Arne Wilkinson, an international award-winning behavioral scientist, voted one of the top five female leaders within Australia. She has over seven degrees in the areas of cognitive and clinical neurosciences including psychology, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and criminal sciences. Milo-Arne has also just completed a world first co-design project with Harvard University Neuroscience Department, and is the ELEVEN program director.

On June 26th, Milo-Arne delivered the keynote—“Are We Hard Wired for Change?”—augmented by an audience Q&A, and followed by a full-panel discussion hosting leading industry practitioners on emerging factors of change. Topics were presented in 45-minute workshops, coupled with quick snapshots of ELEVEN methodology. Each topic was highly interactive, including a 60%/40% split between theory and practical- and with a humorous, storytelling overlay.

After Milo-Arne delivered the kickoff keynote speech highlighting various techniques to combat and welcome change in daily life, the event transitioned into a panel Q&A moderated by Adam Sucov, CFA Managing Director and Head of Internal Sales, J.P. Morgan Funds, and Daniel Fridson of the Fridson Family Office. The panel opened with some initial questions from the audience like “how do you deal with an office that is not hard wired for change, and how do you dissipate that type of energy?” To this question, Milo-Arne advised the audience that they must look at what is causing the adversity to change, whether it be individual worth/value, operating differences, etc. According to Milo-Arne, mastering change takes a long time, and lots of hard work.

Another topic covered by the panel, was breaking down why humans are so keen on holding onto what is comfortable, or what is known to Milo-Arne as our “default position.” The panelists covered specific instances of workplace conflict like downsizing, laying someone off, or structural or management changes, and how to deal with such circumstances. “When you find yourself in a new situation at work, what are some of the best practices in how to cope through those changes? Any personal experiences?” Was a question moderator Adam Sucov spearheaded in this conversation.

The panel wrapped up with a discussion on “red arrows”, and if there exist red arrows we cannot possibly avoid. Red arrows, according to Milo-Arne, are just negative ways of dealing with change and adversity. One of Milo-Arne’s closing remarks addressed a question from the audience regarding criticism from higher-management. Milo-Arne highlighted that knowing who you are, and what value you bring is most important to avoiding being derailed by any criticism.

Throughout the Q&A, the panelists delivered a series of personal experiences and advice on these topics, which benefitted the audience in an interactive and entertaining way. Overall, the event was a success and we look forward to more Kaplan-sponsored career development events in the future.