Lori Collins student profile
Hometown: Brentwood, Tennesssee; my husband and I also live part of the year in Brussels, Belgium.
Degree Program at Vanderbilt:
Currently, the master of divinity degree program
Tell us about your work:
Since 1996, I have worked as an independent facilitator, trainer, and executive coach focusing on organizational leadership development. Most of my clients are located outside the U.S., so the groups and teams I work with are almost always cross-culturally diverse. I enjoy dealing with the layers of complexity and challenges this brings. Typical issues include: improving business performance, enhancing communication, managing change initiatives, and formulating strategy. My background also includes line management in the professional services sector (Center for Creative Leadership—Europe) and manufacturing, sales and marketing (GM/Saturn).
In my executive coaching work, I combine personal development with practical results. Because I can do much of this by phone, I work with an array of clients from many parts of the world (Shanghai, Istanbul, Zurich, London, and Breda) as well as in the U.S.
What led you to choose Vanderbilt Divinity School?
The answer to this question is emerging as I engage in the process. Mostly, the idea of going to divinity school would not let let go of me. I have a master’s degree in education from Peabody and work with the leadership development staff at the Owen Graduate School of Management, so there was no question that Vanderbilt was the school I wanted to attend.
Building on my professional background, I should like to extend and deepen my influence on organizations in ways that support the greater good. I can envision this taking many forms, such as spirit and leadership in business, social entrepreneurship, or inter-faith conflict resolution. And I am open to what I cannot envision presently.
Favorite course this semester and why?
My favorite course was comparative theology. The course expanded my own cross-cultural understanding through contemplative reading of sacred texts from other faith traditions. Comparing these texts to Biblical Scriptures and discussing the similarities and differences with classmates has launched a deliberate exploration of central questions about my own Christianity—a core reason for applying to the Divinity School. It was also wonderful to have one of the field’s pivotal thinkers as the instructor; Professor Thatamanil brings a contagious joy to the art of learning.
Any advice for those considering theological education?
I pass along advice I received from Gordon Peerman when I was considering VDS: “Regarding the magnetic pull you notice, Carl Jung famously said, ‘Follow your dog’ – by which I think he meant that just as a dog sniffs out the territory and follows her nose, we, too, need to pay attention to compelling scents!” My dog is leading me into surprising and life-changing terrain—powerfully and masterfully supported by the faculty and staff of VDS. Follow your dog!
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