2013 Award

Global Forum / Robert L. (Lex) Dilworth Award



Victoria has devoted much of her life to education and helping develop both the theory and practice of Action Learning, strategic learning, and more specifically as well, Action Reflection Learning. She has been a pioneer in her field and for her colleagues and friends always helpful and generous with her time. Here infectious laugh is a reflection of her curious nature and love of life. Her intellectual integrity and depth of knowledge and network is exemplary and inspiring. And her teaching, as we can see from the testimonials from her graduate students, is profoundly and deeply appreciated.

She is the Professor of Adult Learning & Leadership in the Department of Organization & Leadership at Columbia University, Teachers College. She holds a Ph.D. in Adult Education from University of California, Berkeley; and an International MPA from Syracuse University. Her research and practice focus on informal and organizational learning, with a focus on action learning.

She has written many books and articles on action learning, informal learning, team learning and organizational learning. Understanding Action Learning, a book co-authored with Judy O’Neil and published by AMACOM, has recently been translated into Chinese.

Ever since her days in UNICEF, Victoria has been engaged with the world and also with companies and organizations, and they in turn have shown their gratitude in many different ways. One example was the funding of the J.M. Huber Institute for Learning in Organizations by the J.M. Huber Corporation, a diversified multinational. Victoria is the co-director and in this capacity has carried out important research, some of which is to appear in a book with Martha Gephart (who co-directs with Marsick the J.M. Huber Institute for Learning in Organizations) on Strategic Organizational Learning.

Reflecting on your experiences with Victoria, what words or thoughts comes to mind? Victoria is a great educator.  Her guidance and comments on my work was very helpful.  There were many times I had the opportunity to run a real life situation by her to see how it related to what we were learning, and she was always able to provide great insights.  She was a great help to me.    - Joe

When I think of Victoria I see her as always sensitive, tolerant of others (including naïve and needy students like me), truly humble, and respectful of others even when she disagrees with what they are saying. She is one of the world’s most positive people, sharing her great knowledge, warmth and sense of humor with so many. By the way, I cannot picture Victoria without her smiling- I bet she’s smiling now ;-)    - Ashley

Victoria is a catalyst for enabling me to take on different perspectives, tap into deep seeded thoughts, surface and question my assumptions, and elevate my questions to the next level. She is a thoughtful and inspiring scholar practitioner. We love her!    - Tes

From my experience, Victoria has been a superb ambassador for the field of adult learning and the essential practice of action learning.    - Leodis

One of the things that I noticed and loved about AEGIS was that Victoria exemplified and modeled a lot of we were reading about. Victoria was an honest and authentic facilitator in our classroom. Her focus always seemed to be on our learning rather than on her teaching.    - Chad

Simply said, as an educator and as a friend, Victoria changed my life, there is no greater gift.  I will always be indebted to her and grateful to know her.    - Marie Volpe

Thank you Victoria and congratulations!

"I had the privilege of learning and growing under Professor Victoria Marsick's mentorship during my doctorate studies in the AEGIS program at Teachers College.  I applied Professor Marsick's thought leadership and extensive research in action learning in developing hundreds of top global leaders at Johnson & Johnson when I was Head of Executive Development.
Dr. Marsick – you have made a found impact on me, and I miss you very much.  Thank you for your genuine caring–most of all, for believing in your students' potential and for always being there. Congratulations on this well deserved recognition!"

“It was 1982 I believe. You had just become the deputy-training director for UNICEF and I had just started my new life away from being a line manager and a businessman to an interest in supporting people and organizations in their effort to create a climate for growth. After a MA program in Organizational Psychology at Columbia and a post grad at the Organization and Systems Development program at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland I found my first consulting job with UNICEF and you supported me in trying my new wings doing change programs in one of the most multicultural places imaginable. We quickly became friends in some kind of organic way and we have stayed close ever since. I just loved your intensity and your commitment to the growth and development of others. At the time, I had met very few people who truly transcended parochial and pedestrian ways of looking at the world. You had traveled the world and worked in many places on this globe such as Bangladesh and other developing countries. Your heart was always in what you were doing and I admired your compassion for people and your interest in going the extra mile wherever you were.

When Ernie Turner and I started LIM (leadership in international management) you had just become and associate professor at Teachers College with a focus on investigating how organizations learn. You were the first person we asked to join us in exploring Action Learning as we started to understand what MiL was doing to develop managers through engaging people in strategic dilemmas and helping them to integrate task and process. You came with us to Sweden to do research and started to write about action learning.Over the years you became a leading scholar in articulating Action Learning, later named ARL, action reflecting learning by us in LIM. You made the connection how action learning and the learning organization are like a hand in a glove, one inseparable from the other. And, you were central in helping us in MiL and in LIM to articulate the deeper meaning of action learning.

Victoria, how I wish that I could be with you at this moment of recognition of all you have done for our field. You deserve this recognition and please allow yourself to bask in the glory. You are truly one of the giants of the field and my heart goes out to you this evening. With respect, friendship and love.”

“Victoria and I are partners in a small consulting group called Partners for Learning and Leadership. The word ‘partner’ is particularly apropos for Victoria because she is truly a partner, an ally, an advisor, a collaborator, a colleague, a helper, a helpmate. She and I first met in 1987 at a professional meeting in NYC. When I learned she was at Teachers College, I asked if she knew of a Masters program I might attend. Her reply, “I’m just starting one and would be happy to have you enroll”. She became my ally throughout the program, my advisor in the doctoral program, and friend and partner going forward. But Victoria is not just my partner; she is a partner to all who meet her. She had a student, Lyle Yorks, who needed help introducing Action Learning in his university Masters program. Her way to help? Introduce him to her partner, and as a result, create another ongoing alliance.

Are you interested in researching Action Learning programs? Victoria has someone she wants you to meet with whom you can collaborate. Do you have a paper that you’d like some help getting published? Victoria knows a colleague who has similar interests who you really should reach out to.

If you are an elderly friend who needs help, Victoria is the helper you want. And if you are a loving spouse, Victoria will always be there to be your helpmate.

Thank you, Victoria, for being my and everyone’s ‘partner’.”

“It is a great privilege to acknowledge and recognize Victoria Marsick.I met Victoria in the late 80s in San Francisco at the annual ASTD Conference where she contributed.I was immersed in learning about learning, and performance management at the time.Dr Michael O’Brien who led a Masterclass in Organizational Learning said:You have to meet Victoria Marsick, a Professor at Columbia, while she is here in San Francisco.Michael reflected in 2013, when referring to Victoria he recalls “intelligent and compassionate intensity, that she always brought to all her work”.Clearly, Victoria and I met;this signaled the beginnings of my own action learning curiosity.Victoria invited me to sit in on a class of Masters students where she and Karen Watkins, further developed my interest.They signed my copy of “Sculpting the Learning Organization”, a book, they co-authored.Many times I have mentioned to Yury my inspiration, appreciation and provocation that emanated from those initial encounters.Balancing Learning and Results and the emphasis on Reflection and Action Learning has inspired my own corporate and consulting journey over the past two decades.Action Learning is simple, yet subtle and Victoria’s early insights associated with action research, continuous learning, team processes and organization learning and change, were the bedrock on which many of us built our own action learning explorations.

During the early years Victoria was a sounding-board and guide, always modest and humble, never overwhelming.Many of the dilemmas associated with action learning are associated with Reflection, ARL, the term used by MiL and LIM is a constant flag, encouraging reflection and deeper learning.Victoria’s academic and field leadership encouraged bold learning designs that have been transformational and life-changing for so many.She is a giant in our field and I close with my beginning;it is a privilege to reflect, to share a few words that are a very humble attempt at acknowledging Victoria’s enormous contribution as mentor, researcher, academic, writer and long distance friend.

You inspired my Learning and Work. Thank You”



Fernando has been a Global Forum community member for many years and in fact acted as our host at the 2003 15th Global Forum when he was head of Leadership Development at ABNAmro in Amsterdam.
He is now also a member of the Global Forum Advisory Committee. In his own words, Fernando Lanzer Pereira de Souza “started as a consultant over 30 years ago, but got sucked into one of his clients and became an HR Manager in a bank. Unable to find a real job, he was stuck in HR and in banks for three decades. During that period he worked mostly in Amsterdam and in Sao Paulo, where a series of bank acquisitions left him with 23,000 reasons for an ulcer. Since 2003 he has been living in Amsterdam, where he completed 15 years working for ABN AMRO until being kicked back into consulting.” He development many new initiatives there and was highly respected by his colleagues.

“Fernando travels frequently all over the world helping companies to cope with people issues in change processes, especially regarding cross-cultural differences, organization development and leadership development. He is a member of several consultant networks, such as ITIM and GELNET. He is also a member of the Supervisory Group of AIESEC International, the world’s largest student exchange network.” He has recently found the time to write several books in both English and Portuguese, and to spend considerable time and effort in working with clients in the Middle East. Fernando and his wife and partner Jussara were also part of the Organizing Committee for this 18th Global Forum. They have made a most welcomed and wonderful effort to engage us with Brazil’s dynamic and creative business and social institutions for which we also thank them!

“I'm honored and pleased to address a few words to Fernando tonight.
Our lives crossed some decades ago when my dear friend Jussara, his wife, introduced us. During all these years I had the chance to share different moments with Fernando: when we worked together at ABN AMRO/Real or when our families shared some good times in São Paulo and in Amsterdam. Since we met I always perceived Fernando as a man genuinely interested in the development of human beings. It is a way of life...It is a way to face life... it comes from inside to outside. I'm not talking only about the structured learning opportunities he creates, but about his ability to coach people, the courage to break paradigms, the energy to fight for his dreams and get things done! Fernando, I do believe that by developing people we are developing a better world. Now it is time to Thank You for all you did, for what you are doing and I'm sure will still do.
With love,

“I met Fernando, in my role as chairman of the European Staff Council, some 10 years ago after another restructuring in ABN AMRO. Fernando was different. I had worked with many people in ABN AMRO,especially in HR, and he was one of the few who could listen. At that time a very rare competence. Fernando and the Staff Council had a common interest: managing human capital. We had several conversations about a learning organisation and that's how I learned about the Global Forum. Unfortunately ABN AMRO was already then in a constant state of change. Most of the ambitions never matured and you know how it ended in 2007. Fernando left just before the take-over and I believe that that was the right choice. He would have struggled with the Belgians and the Scots. I'm very happy and thankful that he introduced me to the world of the Global Forum members and that we have been able to stay in touch.

I believe that Fernando delivers a lot of value for the organisations which hire him and his contribution to the Forum, although not always very visible, is of great importance for the continuity of our small and beautiful society. Fernando is an exceptional colleague and friend to all of us because of three distinct ccomplishments and several important traits:

1. He changed the banking industry by leaving it well in advance of its most serious crisis, and became the only ex-banker that I truly trust and like.
2. He moved from beautiful, hospitable, samba swinging Brazil, to cold, blunt, distant, and 'can't-you-see-I-don't-do-dancing'-Holland, and still maintains he likes it there.
3. He changed from banking to become an entrepreneur and an author.”

“He is a kind man who seeks simplicity where others are making things complex. He is soft spoken and makes his points with a smile. He works behind the scene and leads where he must. He is a genuine family man, a communitarian with his own clear voice. I like him most because he asks such good questions. The kind that confront you as he puts his arm around you…  He is a terrific example of the integrative leader.  I'll gladly follow where he goes."

“There are many qualities that stand out when I think of my work with Fernando over the years… demanding, stubborn, uncompromising…. No, seriously, when I look back at our best moments together, it is with a smile and a laugh. Fernando takes his good humour seriously and his profession with good humour.As a result his connection with people is infectious and has radiated to include a wide circle of friends and colleagues in many countries and businesses around the world. Fernando was an open systems guy before the world became familiar with the words ‘open system’. Sharing and serving are a part of his nature and character, and we have all benefitted from it. As a professional, he has an unusual combination of creativity and long term commitment that has served him well in his roles as a leader in Banco Real, as an Executive Vice President at ABN AMRO and later as an adviser to global companies at ELP and beyond. Fernando has pioneered cross-cultural leadership through his roles as an executive, his program designs and his direct involvement in programs. At ABN AMRO our Velocity program was ahead of its time, but more importantly Fernando kept the momentum and the budget of the program going for many years through his ability to influence and charm the Executive Board out of their excessive profits and bonuses! I know the banking crisis would have been much worse if we hadn’t developed so many great, honest, forward thinking leaders! We live and learn. Lastly, Fernando is a philosopher. He has taken time to write parables of leadership – elaborate stories and thought pieces aimed at capturing the imagination of his profession. When I read his words they made me smile and wonder: “now where on earth did you come up with that idea, Fernando? ” Then I am reminded: thank goodness Fernando is a uniquely personal leader in an HR world that seems to drive inexorably toward abstract dispassionate objective measures and common standards through box-ticking exercises. The profession needs more Fernandos. When I think of the serious fun we’ve had, the projects we’ve created, the legacy we’ve left and probably the damage we’ve caused by corrupting the minds of so many innocent young executives, I am reminded of the famous words of ABBA: If I had to do the same again, I would my friend, Fernando. On the occasion of you receiving this wonderful honor from Yury and the team, My very best regards and congratulations to you and your family. The recognition of your contribution is well deserved and long overdue.”

"Fernando has an enduring desire and gift for perceiving contexts from fresh perspectives, He’s a real professional, independent of mind and interdependent in his work. Always a pleasure to work with him."


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