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Inside the Program

A Participant Story from the Berkeley Executive Leadership Program

headshot of Selina Gartler

Selina Gartler is the Head of Human Resources and executive for Kontiki Reisen, the leading specialist in Switzerland for holidays in Northern Europe. As a sustainably certified travel company, Kontiki is actively involved as a pioneer for responsible, sustainable tourism development. Selina recently completed the Berkeley Executive Leadership program and shared her experience with Berkeley Executive Education.

Selecting the Berkeley Executive Leadership Program

After doing some research, I was initially interested in the Berkeley Executive Leadership Program because I wanted to get deeper knowledge in leadership. My studies were quite a long time ago, and I felt I needed to gain new insights. I think it's good to have some practical experience and then go on to learn more about theoretical concepts.

I ended up emailing the program coordinator at Berkeley Executive Education to ask what kinds of people attend the course, to which they said it was an international group. I think that was one of the things I really liked at Berkeley: we had people from different kinds of industries, ages, backgrounds, and education levels. We had many great discussions with interesting peers and speakers.

I researched four or five different kinds of leadership programs, but the program outline for the Berkeley Executive Leadership program on the website was really interesting to me. I sat down with my boss and discussed the different programs, and both of us were quite impressed with Berkeley Executive Education. BEXL had a great focus and structure; I liked that it wasn’t just theoretical, but also practical.

Focus on Company Culture

My biggest success was when we had a really inspirational speech about company culture from Rich Lyons, the former Dean from the Haas School of Business. Culture is really important for our company, so I was able to use this knowledge when I returned from Berkeley. Attending BEXL confirmed that we are on the right path, and I will continue to convince others of the importance of company culture both within and outside of our company.

Personal Takeaway

Personally, I really liked the feedback report on emotional and social intelligence. It was interesting to see the results and the areas where I can improve. I now have greater self-awareness, which will be really helpful going forward.

Bringing Value Back

I mentioned that I really liked that the BEXL program incorporated many opportunities for great discussions with different peers. After the program, I realized that we have a very diverse group from varied backgrounds working together at Kontiki Reisen. In efforts to work with this, we decided to establish an executive exchange program that will meet four times a year. Our middle management can ask about or bring in topics, and we will discuss them together. I think this is a really good change because when starting a career, people can sometimes be a little bit afraid–even if they are in a leadership position–to ask others for help. Now, middle managers will not only have an opportunity for greater exchange, but they will be able to help each other. Finally, with my knowledge from the HR business and experience giving advice, I realized I could become a coach for middle management.

The Berkeley Executive Leadership program has given me the tool and the expertise to make a positive and impactful change in my company.

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