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  • Pat Libby

Update from the real world: Tales of a recovering academic | Pat Libby Consulting

When I worked at the University of San Diego, I had a habit of referring to it as the U.

The U represented not only the institution itself, but also my Universe for 14 years. I created an academic center dedicated to nonprofits and philanthropy that today serves close to 1,000 people per year.​

Then I decided to make a U-turn to rededicate myself to consulting full time for nonprofits and philanthropies.

It has now been almost 4 months since I returned to the world of consulting and I have to say that I am happy as a proverbial pig in excrement.

My biggest concern about leaving the U was that my work as a consultant would be less intellectually challenging (I actually told my husband that I was a little afraid of being bored). I also thought that I’d miss teaching – something I’ll get to in a minute.

The reality of consulting couldn’t be further from those suppositions. Working with individual client organizations is incredibly fun and also hugely stimulating and challenging.

USD faculty member and nonprofit consultant Liz Shear & me

I have already had the privilege of helping an iconic organization re-focus its strategic direction through a multi-layered research and planning process. This process informed them how they could best capitalize on their tremendous strengths. Together we formed a plan that will inform the next stage of their work.

I helped another agency learn what their various constituents wanted and needed from them and how they could turn those desires into actionable items. I applaud them for their willingness to have some really tough questions be asked on their behalf, for their willingness to listen carefully to the answers to those questions, and for their willingness to act on what they learned.

Recently, I’ve been working on a complex change management project that will help a venerated institution establish a new organizational structure that will enable it to carry out its work through important leadership transitions and for many years to come.

It’s all way cool stuff and it keeps on coming!

As a matter of course, this work involves a bit of teaching too, but the form of that teaching is not exactly what I am used to. There are no exams or papers to grade and I don’t have to be in class until 9:30 at night!

My former students lobbying at the Capitol!

I have to admit though, old habits die hard. I’ve also gotten a great deal of pleasure finishing up my new book, Cases in Nonprofit Management, a textbook which Sage will publish in early 2016 (I’ve written it with my friend and former USD colleague, Laura Deitrick).

The moral of the story is: U never know what life will bring!

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