Avila Now

March 17, 2022

Q&A: Sharon Purnell, MSOD ’08

Sharon Purnell
Sharon Purnell.

Sharon Purnell is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Streamland Media. Previously, she worked as an HR executive for companies like Verde Associates, Riddell, and UL Corporation. Purnell earned her Master of Science in Organizational Development from Avila in 2008.

Would you please share your career journey?

“When I was in the MSOD program, what resonated with me is understanding the why of how people get to where they are. A key differentiator that’s progressed me through my career was that not only do I have the ability to be tactical on the HR side, but I’m able to be more of a strategic partner as well. A lot of business leaders appreciate my approach–I look for solutions. 

The MSOD program taught me how to do an intervention, how to sit down and create a contract with them and find out where they want to go and how they want to get there. OD is not a one-size-fits-all. It’s listening to the needs of the business, partnering with your business leaders, and creating that source for them.” 

What did you learn in your MSOD program that most impacted your personal and professional life?

“I feel like I built a friendship family going through this program. We all have little pieces that we bring to the table. It helps you recognize all of the different aspects of work and how it’s all connected through organizational development. 

The thing that resonates with me the most is learning about the Johari Window and that black box on the bottom–what you don’t know and what other people don’t know. It’s focusing on organizational development as life-long learners. I think that has been the most impactful for me. I take that to every opportunity or position I have. What do I know about myself? What do I and others know? What do I not know that others do? What is that black box, and how do I continue to bring light to it?”


“I’m able to be more of a strategic partner as well. A lot of business leaders appreciate my approach–I look for solutions. “

What would you say to people who are either considering the degree or are in the program working on the degree and they are wanting to get into the field of OD?

“I think it comes with the confidence of knowing what you know. Organizational development doesn’t have to mean that you are in an organizational development role. I think that even in a business or in a finance role or whatever it might be, there are a lot of opportunities for organizational development.

Now that you have that hat on, you can identify issues and create solutions. I would say nine times out of 10, it’s a free resource that the company is going to want.

When I was in the program, going through my practicum, we had to do an intervention at an organization. I was scared out of my mind to ask if anyone would be willing to have me. Now being on the other end of this, I believe organizations who don’t have the funding to hire people for this would love to have someone come in to help. The more experience and confidence you get, the more opportunities will open for you.”

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