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7 Questions on Leadership with Basia Skudrzyk

Name: Basia Skudrzyk

Title: Senior Faculty Specialist

Organisation: University of Maryland

Basia is the director of the STEM-OPS Executive Committee and the workforce equity director at Prison to Professionals (P2P). She is also a faculty specialist at the University of Maryland working with the NASA Acres team to advance research in the field of food security. Her accomplishments span 25+ years unlocking the potential of those who advance in education and the workforce. In addition to having a master's degree in Business Administration and Marketing with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Organizational Behavior, she is pursuing her doctoral studies in business administration at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. Her area of research focus is on supply chain risk and resilience associated with food security in field of geographical sciences.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Basia's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Knowing how to mitigate consequences, overcome resistance to change, and deal with team members’ reactions to change.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I have developed into a leader by working in various industries - hospitality, medical education, non-for-profit and as an entrepreneur. I've experienced many amazing success stories; and have also fallen. Through my journey and most difficult detours in life, the grit and vulnerability to remain focused and determined have led me to becoming a strong and resilient leader that continues to grow and learn.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I wake up every day at 5:30a.m. I read for one hour and check my emails for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, I turn on the news as I prepare my children for school. After I take my children to school I come back home to follow the schedule and goals I've outlined for myself every day, for the week and month. I have an online calendar, but also keep a manual calendar to make notes and track my progress for the day. During lunch, I take my dogs for a walk and try to get some fresh air. After work, I make sure that I have about 60 minutes of physical activity. I try to structure this day in a similar fashion each day to keep my focus and pattern consistent.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I've been reminded that everyone is going through their own trauma and difficulties in life. Work life balance is difficult, but you have to set boundaries in order to keep life in perspective and do what you want to do and continue with the passion you have for you family and friends. I've learned to listen more than to react. People are touched by so many distractions and have perceived judgements based on the environment they come from. Connection is key and making each and every day count. I keep a small circle of trusted friends/colleagues. It's definitely quality over quantity.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I recently read "Two Beats Ahead" by Panos Panay and R. Michael Hendrix. I really enjoyed this book because it focused on our intuitive understanding of creating music and innovation. Silence is just as important as sound. Collaborate with a more diverse cast of partners to learn more about yourself and the world around you.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

I would share be careful whom you trust and do not compromise yourself for other people. You are the most important person at the end of the day and it's okay to say "NO."

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

When I was experiencing one of the most difficult events of my life, the people who stood beside me and offered authentic friendship and love, are the best people and blessings I could ever ask for. Your tribe will get you through the best and most difficult events in your life. Investing in real friendships is key not only in your professional career, but your person life as well. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my support network. Due to my life experiences I am dedicated to do the same for others. No matter how bad it gets, the rain eventually stops and big light will shine to make sense of what may not be making sense at the time.

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