Frank Durnford


Diploma in Organisational Leadership







By Frank Durnford

An attempt to crank the mental gears before the exam.

It’s 5:30am.  My alarm is buzzing harshly. This cannot be right. It’s Sunday. Clearly, I’ve forgotten to turn my alarm to its “weekday only” setting. Only I haven’t forgotten.

No, I begrudgingly admit to myself, this isn’t a mistake. I set the alarm on purpose.  We are having our first Skype call among the 2015 Diploma in Organisational Leadership cohort this morning.  It’s a voluntary call, of course, set up as a chance to connect between modules.  We received our first exam case study earlier in the week and this is our first kick at an organized, orchestrated group discussion – an attempt to crank the mental gears before the exam.

This is easier said than done. In my corner of the world, nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Canadian Prairies, the sun has yet to make itself known. Thousands of kilometres away eastward and seven hours ahead, my colleagues in London are eating lunch. Thousands of kilometres away westward, our New Zealand colleague is fighting to stay awake past midnight. I can’t figure out for the life of me it its midnight on Saturday or Sunday. Either way, I suspect it’s a draw between her and me as to who has the shorter straw.

The technology, even for someone like me, clinging to the margins of Millennialism, is impressive. One by one, we all pop online: Calgary, Boston, London, Zurich, Melbourne, Dunedin and points in between.  We hear the voice of our organizer and call leader, clear as a bell for some of us. His voice, the other voices, they’re friendly and familiar.  The banter, either as we try not to speak over one another or as we type in our sidebars, recalls the energy in our classroom during the few days in March when we first came together.

It’s not perfect, of course.  Some of us can hear, some of us cannot. Some people can be heard but get only silence in return. Nonetheless, we persevere. A few individuals have prepared some notes based on the case study and our first module; they give presentations.  We share ideas, offer encouragement. It reminds me of my time in law school, but I am struck by the fact that we have developed such a report after only four days together.

The call ends. It’s not quite 7:30am in Calgary. Despite my desire to crawl back to bed, I feel energized.  My head is full of the conversation we’ve just had, the ideas, the debate. Connecting with my classmates on the call was motivating. It’s a great feeling and, I suspect, one worthy of a pre-dawn wake up call.


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