HDO: The Human Experience

Oct 26, 2020

Miles Husid

Marketing Coordinator, HDO

October 26, 2020

HDO student smiling.Not only are HDO’s Master’s degree courses led by top faculty at UT Austin, they also feature some of the best and brightest students on The Forty Acres. Year after year, we continue to be grateful for how much we learn from our incredible students. Seven years in, I guess we should no longer be surprised. 

Each of our Master’s cohorts includes students from a wide array of backgrounds, both professionally and personally. Over the course of their 15 months in the program, our students come together to form connections that make HDO one of the most diverse programs on campus. And these connections continue to grow long after graduation. 

Below, we hear from our students about their experiences in the Master’s program. 

Outliers welcome.


HDO: Student Experiences

How would you summarize your overall experience in the HDO program?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in HDO. The topics covered in class were helpful and provided valuable information that I use on a daily basis in making a career transition from business operations to consulting. The faculty were tremendous and brought a level of knowledge and experience and expertise that made the coursework come to life. I am thankful for the experiences I had during my HDO studies which prepared me to meet the challenges I face in my consulting work.

How did the program change your view on how organizations work and/or change how you function in the workplace?

The HDO program provided me with a new vantage point with which to study organizations and the people who work within them. My background was on the business operations/management side of organizations, and I spent much of my career developing ways to improve productivity from a processes and procedures standpoint. Through the study of social and behavioral sciences, HDO allowed me to develop the skills to observe and learn more about the human side of organizations. I am confident and able to assess and evaluate an organization’s personnel and culture to provide recommendations on optimizing performance.

Dan Ahearn

Principle, DA Advisory Services, LLC

HDO Master’s Class of 2018

How did your actual experience with the HDO Master’s Program compare to your expectations?

My experience with HDO surpassed my expectations. As a business school graduate with 20 years of work experience under my belt, and a self-described pragmatist, I saw life in black and white. The lessons from HDO were welcome to help me understand the gray – the dimensions of what it is to be human, to come together to form organizations and to solve problems. Everyone needs this!

What role did your cohort play in influencing your experience in the program?

The diversity of my cohort was so intriguing! Each member had vast experience and exposure and framing of the context of human dimensions! They made it just as interesting to keep showing up. I’m grateful to have remained in contact with many.

Paige Vurpillat

Certification Specialist, PointClickCare

HDO Master’s Class of 2015

How did the program change your view on how organizations work and/or change how you function in the workplace?

Although I considered myself to be fairly well informed as a result of having worked abroad for 20 years, as it relates to diversity, inclusion, being fair and flexible versus being consistent and rigid, the program allowed me to reach new heights in these areas that, left to my devices, I would not have attained. I approach problems differently now, and I’m much more inclined to be an inch wide and a mile deep as opposed to being a mile wide and an inch deep.

What role did your cohort play in influencing your experience in the program?

In a word, my cohort experience was huge. We had a great diversity of ethnicity, gender, experience, age, personal interests, market sectors, you name it – exactly what I was looking for. Had I wanted more of the energy industry group think that is so pervasive in Houston, I would have stayed home and earned an MBA from one of the many programs that are locally available. I made lifelong friends, and most – if not all of us – suffered from cohort separation anxiety. (A new medical condition I just made up.)

Jay T. Norcross

President, Kiewit OGC Engineering

HDO Master’s Class of 2019

How would you summarize your overall experience in the HDO program?

As many of my fellow HDO graduates will say, my experience with HDO was life-changing and hugely rewarding. I think the structure of the program, in terms of cohort size, etc. had a lot to do with that. The process was much more a journey of self-awareness than I would have expected, and the experience much more personal as well.

Lara Reichle

Strategic Philanthropy Manager, UCL

HDO Master’s Class of 2017

Learn More About an HDO Master’s Degree. We will be holding info sessions online throughout the fall and winter. Info session are a great opportunity for you to meet alumni and staff, ask questions about the program, and to determine if our one of a kind Master’s Degree is a good fit for you!

We are now accepting applications for our next Master’s cohort. There are a limited number of spots available for each HDO Master’s cohort, so start on your application early.

UT Austin