Alumni Success Story – April Braman ’14

As a Case Manager at the University of Michigan, April Braman, CCM ‘14 manages short and long term disability cases for their employees, assists them with ADA accommodations, return to work concerns, and FMLA clarification. She says her experience at Davenport empowered her. “It allowed me to believe in myself and it has given me the opportunity to show my children that you can achieve whatever you set your heart and mind to accomplish.” Learn more about April and her journey below.

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Tell us about yourself!

My name is April Braman, I live in Hartland, Michigan. I am a 41 year old single mother of a 10 year old daughter and an 8 year old son, who are my heart, soul, and driving force behind everything that I do.

Why did you pick Davenport?

Davenport is the only accredited university to offer the Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Case Management, which is the career path I’ve slowly been working toward for the past decade. When I enrolled to in the program, I was living out of state and the portability of online classes was exactly what I needed. When I learned that the instructors are all experienced professionals with real world experience, it made sense because their answers and advice all came from that point of view

As a graduate of DU, when you think of your experience what comes to mind?

I love Davenport! The support the faculty and staff offered and the setup of their programs was exactly what I was looking for.  I am actually enrolled again as a graduate student earning my MBA with healthcare concentration.  My experience over the years has made me feel empowered, it allows me to believe in myself, and it has given me the opportunity to show my children that you can achieve whatever you set your heart and mind to accomplish.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am a case manager with the University of Michigan. We manage the short and long-term disability cases for our own employees, assist them with ADA accommodations, return to work concerns, and FMLA clarification.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is two-fold.  The first is passing the Certified Case Manager exam in December 2016, and the second was forging a partnership through U of M to accept our first Davenport medical case management practicum student this semester (Winter 2017).

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to work from home as an active medical case manager, while also becoming a professor for future medical case management students.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I ever received is to be your own biggest cheerleader.  Whenever you are faced with a difficult decision or circumstance, think of the best advice you would give to your child or another loved one, and say it to yourself.

Are you are you passionate about?

I am passionate about being a great example for my children, and loving that I am able to watch two wonderful people grow and change throughout the years into the thoughtful adults they are both destined to become.

What do you do when you are not working?

When I am not working I am usually doing something with my children.  Now that I am enrolled in a graduate program at Davenport, my evenings are also spent working in my classes.  When I get some time to myself, I decompress by spending time with my friends, because laughter really is the best way to unwind.

Following Grandpa’s Footsteps – Roger Luurtsema & Allison Luurtsema #TBT Story

“I chose Davenport because I wanted instruction that was practical and directly applicable to my career,” Roger Luurtsema explained.  Now, nearly 65 years later, his granddaughter Allison Luurtsema is following in his footsteps; eager to learn and grow at Davenport.

Roger was born to Peter and Lillian Luurtsema in their Grand Rapids home in 1932 and graduated from Ottawa Hills High School. He knew he wanted to go into sales because he had uncles he admired who were salesmen and because he had “the gift of gab” and a sense of humor.

He enrolled at Davenport after high school in 1950 and still recalls that many of his instructors left a lasting impression.  Like instructor Andy Anderson, who tricked a shy boy into overcoming his fear of public speaking in the Dale Carnegie class or the commercial law instructor who was a lawyer and also an artist and illustrated principles of law with cartoon style drawings.

“Our class was very close and had a lot of comradery. We were on the second floor of the Fulton and N. Division street building. The first floor had retail stores and a restaurant where we often socialized over coffee and donuts,” Luurtsema reflected.

He appreciated that his classes were always led by people who were successful in their professional fields.  Roger remembered Robert Sneden as a good teacher who was professional, sophisticated and businesslike and added that, “we were all in awe of Mr. Davenport.”

“I am happy with my choice of attending Davenport,” said Roger. “Throughout my forty-five year career in sales, the fundamental principals were the thing that carried me through and that show the quality of the training.”

Roger earned his diploma for completing his salesmanship course from the Davenport-McLachlan Institute in 1951. He married five years after graduating from college and moved to Ann Arbor, MI to start his long, successful career.

Roger worked at a few different companies before settling in at EcoLab where he spent more than 33 years as a salesperson with a territory spanning from Lansing to Detroit. He also found success in translating his education and experience into training other salespeople.

During this time period, Roger and his wife, Wilma, started a family. They have five children, fifteen grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren and more on the way.

One of his granddaughters, Allison Luurtsema, started at DU in the fall of 2016. Allison grew up playing soccer with her father, Phil, who also spent many hours on the soccer field as a kid. “She has won all the awards you can win, including the top female athlete of her high school,” said her proud grandfather.

When it came time to look for colleges, Allison knew she wanted to play soccer and pursue nursing. One of her coaches recommended Davenport. As her family researched options, Roger showed her a promotional piece with his photo on it from his days at Davenport.

Roger’s experience sparked Allison’s interested in Davenport. “I think it is a great connection to have with my grandpa. Similar to my connection with my dad and soccer, I am able to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps at Davenport, building a family legacy.”

Allison’s first year as a Davenport University nursing student at the W.A. Lettinga Campus is off to a great start. Soon, she will have stories of her own about teachers, student life and classwork to share with her family.

Do you have a Davenport legacy story? Davenport University legacy families are families who have a multi-generational connection to the University. The University identifies legacy students as those who have had a family member or members graduate from DU. Submit your legacy story to!


Alumni Success Story – Kate Gadbois ’12

As a child, Kate’s family repeatedly told her she should be an attorney due to her exceptional ability to argue. At first, the length of schooling required turned her off. But thanks to her incredible professors and experience in DU’s paralegal program, Kate graduated in 2012 and went on to pursue her law degree. Now, she is working as an Associate Attorney with Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos, P.C, specializing in corporate & business law and estate planning & probate. Learn more about Kate and her journey below.

Tell us about yourself!

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids. My family, mainly my mother, told me many times that I should be an attorney (apparently this suggestion came about because I mastered the talent of arguing at a young age).  Being an attorney sounded great, but the amount of schooling required deterred me.  After high school, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to pursue.  When I came to Davenport, one of my first classes was Introduction to Paralegal Studies, taught by Barb Craft.  The very first day of this class, I knew that the legal field was where I was meant to be.  I also knew that, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, I would attend law school and become an attorney.  I graduated from Davenport in December of 2012 and started law school in January of 2013.  I am now living in Portage, working as an Associate Attorney with Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos, P.C., a full-service law firm with four West Michigan locations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, St. Joe, and Battle Creek.

Why did you pick Davenport? 

I picked Davenport because of its great reputation, small class sizes, experienced professors, hands-on practical opportunities, and its location.

As a graduate of DU, when you think of your experience what comes to mind?

The first thing that comes to mind: the amazing professors.  The legal professors were incredibly experienced, which to me, was invaluable.  Each specific story shared by a professor was memorable (and even better if also humorous) and these stories certainly helped me retain the concepts behind the stories.  My legal professors are not the only professors that come to mind. My accounting professor, Grant Lee, went above and beyond.  I have never had a professor who truly cared about their students in the obvious way Professor Lee cares about his.  Accounting was definitely not my strong suit (which is a fairly common joke among lawyers and their math-related skills), but Professor Lee made a world of difference.  I didn’t ace his class, but I made it through with a much better outcome than anticipated because of Professor Lee’s investment and encouragement.  I am confident that Professor Lee has positively influenced a large majority of his students, and I am grateful that I had him as my accounting professor.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

My main practice areas are corporate & business law and estate planning & probate.  I listen, analyze, strategize, anticipate potential issues and/or help guide clients through situations they may find themselves in, negotiate, counsel, and assist clients in achieving their goals.  I handle any and all business needs for any size or type of business. Whether it’s forming an entity; drafting, reviewing, or negotiating various types of contracts or forms; assisting with the purchase or sale of assets; acquiring companies, real estate, and everything in between; compliance; restructuring; succession planning; and any other business-related need.

Estate plans are essential for individuals and business owners. I assist clients in determining and addressing their specific needs, the needs of their family, and the future of the companies that they worked so hard to build.  This part of my job is rewarding because I am able to give my clients the peace of mind that they have taken the appropriate steps for their family and that their wishes will be followed.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

At this point in my life, I have to say that my biggest accomplishments include graduating, cum laude, from law school, passing the bar exam, and working, as an Associate Attorney, with Kreis Enderle – the firm I knew I wanted to be a part of a few years ago.

What is your dream job?

This is exactly what I want to be doing.  I love my career and the firm I am a part of.  Kreis Enderle is a great size law firm with exceptionally bright and experienced attorneys in each area of the law.  I could not ask for a better group of people to work with.  I worked in our Grand Rapids office, as an extern during law school, and I knew then that I would love to end up working, as an Attorney, with Kreis Enderle.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Positive thinking can have an enormous influence on your life – it’s a powerful tool that we all have the ability to control.  It is so beneficial to regularly think about the things in your life that you are thankful for; even more so when you find yourself in a frustrating situation.

Some additional good advice: be thankful for what you have & keep working for what you want tomorrow.

What are you are you passionate about?

I am passionate about and fascinated by the law.  I am passionate about helping people.  It is also probably safe to say that I am also passionate about animals.  If I see a stray animal, there’s no doubt I am stopping to try to help – I’ve done so too many times to count.  I’d want someone to do the same if it were my dog running loose in the street!

What do you do when you are not working?

I am still fairly new to the Kalamazoo area so a lot of my free time is spent exploring all that my new city has to offer, especially the restaurants!  I am looking forward to checking out the local farmers markets next summer.  Community involvement is very important to me.  I attend as many events as possible and I recently became a Board Member of Glass Art Kalamazoo!

Alumni Success Story – Pat McPherson ’06

From stump grinding to mopping factory floors, Pat McPherson ’06 has had some dirty jobs. But, thanks to his interest in IT, Pat pursued education at Davenport University where he earned his BS in Computer Networking. Now, Pat leads a team at ITS Partners as a senior sales engineer solving IT problems for clients all over the world. Learn more about Pat and his journey to ITS below.

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Tell us about yourself, Pat!

I am from a little farm town called Lakeport, Michigan. Growing up my plan was to be a truck driver just like my dad. However, my high school received its first computers during my senior year and I fell in love. I took a few computer classes at the tech center where I learned Cisco and Oracle. After high school, I went to DU because of its reputation of training excellent IT professionals. My road to graduation wasn’t easy – I had to work many dirty jobs to help pay for school. Overall, my time at DU was a great experience and I graduated in 2006 with a BS in Computer Networking. Now, I work at ITS as a senior sales engineer.

You mentioned you worked many “dirty jobs.” What are some of the jobs you worked?

Well, money was tight and I had to pay for school. My first “dirty job” was working for the Lakeport Market and was the “human” bottle sorter before the pop can machines came out. Next, I moved on to Meijer and worked as a pop can machine cleaner. Looking back, I do not know what was grosser, sorting the bottles from the plastic bags at Lakeport Market or cleaning the pop can machines at Meijer. At the same time, I worked at our family business doing stump grinding. Next, I worked at the Lakeport State Park for a summer, mowing lawns, weed wacking, digging out fire pits, and cleaning the bathrooms and showers. Finally, my dad got me a job mopping the floors at a local factory. I would go to class Monday – Thursday, and then drive to Detroit and work Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I mopped the factory floors for four years until I finished college.

From driving truck to IT, why did you pick Davenport?

I went to Davenport because I was interested in technology. As soon as I got to Davenport, my experience was exactly what I’d hoped. I had some amazing professors. Nancy Hanson was awesome and I took all of her Cisco classes. I enjoyed the Microsoft classes with Ron Draayer and programming classes with Pete Anderson.

How did you get a job at ITS?

My professor, Nancy Hansen had connections at ITS. She told the whole class to apply for their entry-level engineer program, which took students interested in IT through an extensive training and externship process. I had my first interview and then six months later I was asked to come in again. The second time they were not interested in my experience and said that they could not hire me. I was pretty bummed, so I went home and continued to work has a stump grinder. I had enough money for about two weeks. But, I got a call a few weeks later saying I got the job! Luckily for me, the CEO, Wade, insisted that they hire me. Wade really like my story of persistence, especially the stump-grinding story. I was the only person out of the whole class who got the job.

In a nutshell, what do you do now?

I have held a few positions at ITS. I started as a junior engineer, moved up to a engineer and instructor, then to senior engineer. I mainly focused on computers that needed updates or programs installed.  As a junior engineer, I would deploy computer systems to companies that had around 100 computers at a time for one client.  Then I worked my way up to senior engineer and would deploy systems management tools to enterprises that would consist of over 100,000 computers. I went from working in the bottle department at Meijer to later doing their systems management deployment across all their stores.

I moved into as sales engineer role about five years ago and was recently promoted to a senior sales engineer. In this position, I meet with clients and learn about their problems and try to come up with solutions. Before I was the one implementing the solutions, now I am the one designing and creating solutions for our clients all over the world.

What is your dream job?

Funny you ask. My dream job is to work at a deli shop or game stop. In my thinking, those jobs are less stressful but in all reality, it probably is not. This is probably some sort of retirement job. When my wife and I retire, our goal is to start a mobile petting zoo and get some goats, pig and chickens. We would offer the petting zoo free at kid’s birthday parties and events.

What do you do when you are not working?

I spend time with my wife, Jenna, and my one-year-old daughter, Sophie. I also enjoy spending time with our fur babies which consist of an English Bulldog, a Poma-Poh and a Shih-Tzu. They’re quite the odd wolf pack but we love them!

Alumni Success Story – Mohamad Abdulkader Agha ‘03

Chancellor Emeritus Donald W. Maine called it fate. Mohamad Abdulkader Agha ‘03 called it meant to be. Their serendipitous relationship is heartwarming. Learn more about Mohamad’s path to Davenport and his success as he lives and works in Dubai, leading the strategy team at the International Humanitarian City (IHC), part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives foundation to improve 130 Million lives by 2025 through humanitarian and developmental work. Read more below.

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Nearly 6,000 miles from his home in Syria, Agha found a new place to call home in Grand Rapids in early 2001. His decision to come to America wasn’t easy. After losing his father at the age of 13 and his mother only nine years later, Agha found himself looking for guidance in his next step. Luckily, he has three older sisters who had his best interests in mind and encouraged him to gain a global perspective on life by pursuing his MBA in the United States.

His brother-in-law, who is a doctor in the Grand Rapids area, recommended that he check out Davenport because he heard that the class sizes were small and the professors used real-life experiences to teach the classes.

Agha recalled wondering why he should go to a school in a small city, when he could go to school in Los Angeles or New York City.  His brother-in-law’s advice was to go a place where he could have personal attention. Agha remembered his brother-in-law saying, “Don’t be a small fish in a big pond, be a big fish in a small pond.”

Agha started classes at Davenport in spring 2001 and in the summer he completed a graduate program at Georgetown University, then went back home to be with family. While he was home, the events that shook the world on September 11th occurred. Things were uncertain and he was unsure if he was going to return to Davenport.

“I got a phone call from Davenport,” said Agha. “The call was from my advisor.  She said, ‘Congrats, Mohamad! You have been awarded the international students’ scholarship this year. We look forward to your coming back to Davenport.’ And that call made me book my flight to come back.”

As his studies progressed, he continued to build relationships on campus. He got an invitation to speak at the international students’ luncheon because of his reputation for academic success and charismatic professionalism.

“I got up, I did my speech and after I was done, I was asked to join a table with the former president of Davenport University, Don Maine. I shook hands with him and we introduced ourselves to each other. I was sitting there, enjoying being next to the “big man on campus,” yet not really knowing who he was. Then, the former VP of Alumni & Development walked up and said, “Mohamad, that gentleman paid for your scholarship. Your scholarship is the Maine Family International Student Scholarship!”

From that moment, Agha and Maine clicked. Although there was a difference in age and experience, they became friends.

Maine recalled, “When I realized international students did not receive financial aid, I wanted to direct my donation to those international students who needed it, kids like Mohamad. It is the humanitarianism in me. I enjoy helping young global talents.”

As Agha’s career flourished, so did their friendship. “We used to have lunches that lasted two to three hours to discuss global affairs at a restaurant in East Grand Rapids. At that point in my life, I didn’t have a father. So guidance was either spontaneous, by observing others, or by Don giving me the time and mentoring me step by step.”

Agha consulted and updated Maine about every chapter of his life. After earning his MBA from Davenport, Agha worked at Ernst & Young. Next he was recruited by the United Nations. At the age of 30, he was the youngest director hired at the UN to manage the Private Sector Development Program. He led the UN Global Compact as a representative and secretary general to its Advisory Council for five years.

In 2012, Agha left the Middle East. He took a job at the World Logistics Council as the director of strategic partnerships to lead a global team which coordinated with organizations from 56 countries involving the top technology, finance, insurance and semi-government organizations.

Now, Agha and his wife, Rim, and baby twins (Abdulkader & Ayla), live and work in Dubai. He leads the strategy team at the International Humanitarian City (IHC), part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives foundation to improve 130 Million lives by 2025 through humanitarian and developmental work.

“Here is a person whose country has collapsed,” said Maine. “He built a brand new global career. There are a lot of people who could not do that. He now has mastered the culture of the UAE and risen to the point of being entrusted to serve its global initiatives. He left Damascus to work in Geneva and Kuala Lumpur and then made his way back to the Middle East.”

What makes Agha’s relationship with Davenport so special is the personal attention he was given by Maine and the professors. He left Davenport with high academic knowledge and the culminating experience of all of the individuals who shared their experiences and knowledge with him.

“I am thankful for Don Maine because he filled a void in my life. Yes, his scholarship has made a huge difference in my life, but money could be replaced. What isn’t replaceable is his experience and later on his friendship and love that keeps growing. Thank you, Don Maine!”

Volunteer for BPA & DECA

Business Professionals of America (BPA) and DECA need your help!

  • On February 4, 150+ DECA students will meet to network, learn business strategies and showcase their skills at the weekend-long Career Development Conference. We are in need of industry leaders and professionals to judge these events, specifically we need an accounting event judge on February 4, 2017 from 7:45am-5:00pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. Interested? Please email Suzanne Gut.
  • On February 11, hundreds of students will gather at the W.A. Lettinga Campus for the Business Professionals of America State Leadership Conference. BPA needs more than 40 volunteer judges, graders and greeters to help at the conference. If you are interested in volunteering on February 11th, please contact Scott Gumieny.
  • On March 4 at the W.A. Lettinga Campus, middle school students will compete at the BPA State Leadership Conference. BPA is looking for volunteers to be judges, proctors and graders in the morning and early afternoon. If you are interested, please contact Dara Carr.

Alumni Success Story – Stacie James ’98

After landing a co-op position at Kellogg Company as a student just over 22 years ago, alumna Stacie James ‘98 worked her way up earning the position of Plant Finance Controller. Stacie has balanced the books, managed international finance relationships and now manages the finances for one of the largest cereal plants in “Cereal City USA.” Learn more about Stacie and how she grew into the position of controller below.

Tell us about yourself, Stacie.
I was born and raised in a small town in southwest Michigan called Union City. After high school, I attended Davenport College in Battle Creek. In my sophomore year at Davenport, the Dean, at the time, was teaching my accounting class. He approached my friend, Karen and I, to see if we were interested in a co-op position at Kellogg. While Karen took the job, I was hesitant given I was only in my second year of schooling, therefore I declined. It was three months later when she reached out to me, stating there was another opening.  Given her experience and satisfaction with the job, I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass by again.  That is where it all started. I took the student co-op position which lasted just over two years, then I got hired for full time during the latter part of my junior year.  I have worked at Kellogg for more than 22 years in multiple roles and now I am a Plant Finance Controller.

Why did you pick DU?
My parents encouraged me to go to college. I was a numbers person and was good at math, so I decided to try accounting. I got good grades and enjoyed it. Davenport’s staff was very friendly and I enjoyed the small classes.

You have been at Kellogg for over 22 years, can you tell us about how you have grown there – your promotions and jobs?
I started with simple work like balancing accounts and journal entries. A couple years later I was hired as an Account Reconciliation Assistant. After that, I was able to explore a few different roles. I was put in the Corporate Controller’s Group as a Staff Accountant. In this role, I had an attention-grabbing job – I prepared board books and executive summary books for the executive staff. I learned very quickly that formatting was very important – decimals, number of zeros, spacing, font. Next, I was promoted to Senior Financial Analyst for financial reporting. In this role, I was able to experience interactions with the international locations because I managed and administered the database to collect their financials. I made friends with people in Europe, Latin America and Asia. I learned how to listen very carefully to all the diverse accents for understanding and to make conversions with the different currencies. Next, I was promoted to Associate Manager of Corporate Financial Planning. Then, it was on to multiple Global Supply Chain Finance roles, where I’ve provided support for more than 10 years, focusing on the cost of goods sold, capital spending, overhead and management of the Operations P&L. All of my roles have prepared me for my position today.

In a nutshell, what do you do now?
Currently, I am the Plant Finance Controller. I serve as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, in addition to overseeing a high functioning finance group driven towards customer service in support of our operation’s team.  Continuous improvement and price efficiency is always top priority.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about honesty. I also believe you should always do your best and always look for ways to improve.

What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy watching Tiger baseball, bowling, fishing and taking my 14 year old daughter, Payton, to the movies.

6 ways to get involved in your Alumni Association in 2017

Stay connect by getting involved in your active alumni network!

Social Media - Follow us on Facebook and Instagram! Connecting on our social media outlets is one of the fastest ways to get the most updated information on what is happening with DU alumni. Plus, who doesn’t like fun pictures of alumni and snowy campus photos!

Events - Attend an event! Our 2017 schedule of events will include alumni tailgates, professional development opportunities and special days on the golf course! We have something for everyone!  View our upcoming events on our website.

Volunteer – Volunteer your time and talents to speak to a class, join at a regional alumni club, or offer advice on an alumni panel. Are you a recent grad in West Michigan? Join our Young Alumni Council!

Athletics – Cheer on your Panthers alongside our mascot, Pounce, at an athletics event. Not located in Grand Rapids? Many of our teams play games all over the country! Visit the athletics website for the full schedule of events.

Sign up to receive Davenport University e-mail updates to connect with fellow alumni and stay informed about DU’s latest initiatives, events and professional development opportunities.

Make a Gift – Invest in future DU students by contributing to the general fund, scholarships or a specific department. Learn more about giving back to DU.

Contact Information

To get involved in alumni activities or to learn more about benefits and services, contact:

Jason Madden ‘08
Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Development

Erik Dane ‘07
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Events

Sara Mooney ‘09
Assistant Director of Alumni Communications and Development

Road Map for your Personal Development

I’m a huge fan of GPS. Before that, I was a constant user of websites like MapQuest and Google Maps. Before that, I possessed a 50-state road atlas, State of Michigan map with detailed inset maps of various cities and two county map books that included every street within the county. When I’m driving, I definitely want to know where I’m going.

When I first started in my professional career, I was driving to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. To this day, I remember working my way through the various pages of the atlas, comparing routes and then eventually highlighting which expressways I would take that would be the quickest option. Doing this type of planning can seem tedious, or worse, pointless. However, I believe planning your trips saves enormous time in the long-run, keeps you out of trouble areas and allows you to remain focused on your long-range destination.

Planning Your Life

You see, I don’t know anyone who ventures out on a trip – whether for business or pleasure – and operates with the mentality that they don’t know where they’re going, nor do they care. I don’t know anyone who gets in their car and says, “Let’s drive south for a while, and where we end up, that’s our vacation destination!” I don’t know anyone who travels for business and does not know exactly where they are headed. Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who treat their lives that way. Each new day that they wake up is unplanned, unfocused, and very accidental with respect to direction.

In March of 2012, I was reflecting on the importance of having purpose in life, and tweeted what proved to be a profound statement that I use quite frequently now in trainings and consultative services: “You will never drift into purposefulness.” So, if you can’t drift into purposefulness, then it has to be intentional.

How to Create a Personal Development Plan

A friend of mine always tells people that his favorite leadership quote is from the movie, “Alice in Wonderland.” An odd place to find leadership principles, but a quality statement, nonetheless: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Now, to be clear, this isn’t advocating multiple options to the same destination, this is talking about the end destination not mattering, so your options are all equally valid (or to be fair, invalid!). This is like getting in the car and saying, “Let’s drive south to our vacation!” This type of attitude about our lives is unacceptable to me, and I’m hoping it is unacceptable to you as well. To keep yourself from falling into the trap that you can drift into purposeful, I’m proposing something different – a Personal Development Plan. So, what does a Personal Development Plan look like? Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Where do you want to go? What do you want your life to look like in about five years? Having too long of a timeframe (over five years) can make the end seem unrealistic. Having too short of a time frame can make the progress seem too incremental. My suggestion is to look at all areas of your life: professional, educational, financial, personal, physical, etc., and determine what you want to look like at the end of five years. That becomes your “destination location” – you now know where you want to go.
  • Begin taking each of the categories and identifying what has to happen in your life to get there within the timeframe. For example, if you’re going to be pursuing an advanced degree, it isn’t enough to put on your plan that you want to graduate. You also have to think strategically about every step. You may have an entrance exam requirement to fulfill like a GMAT or GRE, the application process, etc. You need to include every aspect into your plan.
  • Determine what you need to do differently beginning today, to start reaching the goals that you have. If you want to be somewhere different in five years from where you are now, then you have to do things that are different. The layman’s definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over but to expect a different result. So, what do you need to do differently? Some examples include reading a certain number of books on your area of expertise within your industry; begin blogging; identify a mentor within your industry; or, attend conferences that will force you to expand your learning. 

The Benefit to You

Having a Personal Development Plan sets you apart from your peers. It will create options for you both personally and professionally. A recent study shows that 42% of college graduates do not read another book after graduation. If you’re not reading, you’re missing out learning best practices. The fact is, leaders are readers, and if you’re not reading, you won’t be leading.

By separating yourself from your colleagues, you begin to be the one who people go to for additional opportunities, for answers to questions and for input on strategic decisions. All of this helps to get you to your intended destination that you’ve targeted for yourself in your five-year plan.

Let the Institute for Professional Excellence Help…

With our professional development and/or executive coaching services, the Institute for Professional Excellence (IPEx) at Davenport University can assist you regardless of your level within your organization.  IPEx will help you reach your greatest potential by providing education and training opportunities to support your Personal Development Plan. We want to make sure that your future looks different from your present and you stay on track to achieve your goals. IPEx can help you identify and arrive at your desired destination.

© 2016 | Dan Rundhaug | Executive Director
Institute for Professional Excellence (IPEx) | Davenport University

Dan can be reached at: or 616.233.2582