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Michigan HR professional earns ASU’s first Master of Science in organizational leadership

ASU master's in organizational leadership graduate Elizabeth Giacobbi

As a human resources professional eager to branch out into other realms of her company, Liz Giacobbi decided ASU's master's degree program in organizational leadership would give her the breadth she sought.

December 15, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

If you lead a virtual team, are a constituent of a virtual leader, or if you are experiencing the world of virtual work for the first time due to the pandemic, you might want to connect with ASU graduate Elizabeth Giacobbi on LinkedIn.

Giacobbi, who hails from Richmond, Michigan — a small city in metro Detroit — has just completed the Master of Science in organizational leadership online while working full time with ADP and juggling a very demanding schedule and work-travel.

A human resources professional for the last decade, she is already seeing a payoff in her career.

“I just accepted a new role at ADP as a human capital management business consultant for Global Enterprise Solutions and accepted a board position as a director of digital programming for ADP’s Diversity and Inclusion’s Generations National,” Giacobbi explained. “I was asked to be a participant in ADP’s new Front-Line Leadership Excellence Program as a beta tester with the completion of my master’s degree.” 

She created a digital download encapsulating her months of research on her capstone project “Best Practices for Leaders on Effectively Managing a Team and Maximizing Engagement in a Virtual Environment” that Giacobbi will be sharing with her colleagues at ADP and has posted to her LinkedIn account

Her recommendations, if you’d like a preview, focus on: creating a team charter, holding video team calls, using recognition, encouraging team chat, using empathy, creating water cooler moments, encouraging schedules, and conducting check-ins.

“I would love to hear people’s thoughts,” she emphasized, “and want people to feel free to share and enjoy! I hope these tips inspire others and offer some new perspectives.” 

Giacobbi’s coaching mentality is consistent with her goal to one day teach as a professor in leadership or human resources with a concentration on virtual leadership practices. 

"Liz in many ways exemplifies the kind of student that the MS in OGL program serves, for it allows students to use the knowledge they have gained in their undergraduate careers and integrate it with graduate-level study and professional experience,” said Robert Kirsch, assistant professor of leadership and integrative studies and graduate program director. "Our students face this adaptive opportunity and find ways for this degree to augment their personal, professional and academic goals." 

Giacobbi shared additional reflections on her ASU experience: 

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to pursue graduate study in organizational leadership? 

Answer: I spent the last 10 years of my career working in the realm of HR. Once I transitioned to ADP, I started craving other parts of the business and knew that taking a more broad approach like organizational leadership would be a better fit. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: Even when you are in the developmental stages of your career and personal goals, you never know who you are inspiring. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: It’s a leader in innovation and because of ASU’s flexibility with the virtual environment and serving working professionals. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Explore different avenues in the field you are studying. Job shadow as much as possible or conduct informal interviews. And please, please, please network! 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A:  I’d use the money to support mental health issues. Research, facilities, access to care, advocacy, teaching — wherever the need is, I would donate the money. More people need to talk about all types of mental health issues facing all generations of our population. 

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