Michael Barnard

Getting a Master’s of Human Relations Degree from the University of Oklahoma is one of the best decisions I ever made. The course requirements were well thought out, allowed for a variety of specializations, and the lessons learned were readily transferable to the real world. I can directly attribute a great deal of my success in the Army, and now as a Department of Defense Civilian to the Human Relations instruction from OU. The classes that had the greatest impact on me included those focused on Diversity, Organizational Development, Change Management, and Human Resources.

Capitalizing on the diversity of my organizations allowed me to address blind spots that I was previously unaware of, and reduced the organizations’ vulnerability to conflict and discord while increasing our chances for mission success. Stressing inclusion over exclusion enabled the establishment of trust and confidence among our international allies and partners during my deployment to Afghanistan. Valuing each member of the team, established an environment for the development of effective, collaborative solution sets that would not have been possible in an organization that failed to value diversity. I learned Emotionally Intelligence (EI) from my OU Human Relations courses before EI was even a thing (yes, I’m that old).

The lessons I learned in Organizational Development and Change Management at OU have been put into practice many times over. After the 9-11 attack the military both grew and changed a tremendous amount. I helped to manage that change and growth. More recently, I have helped to manage reductions and other changes focused on realizing efficiencies and effectiveness in a more resource constrained environment. Having a solid understanding of change management principles like getting leaders involved, getting stakeholder buy in, maintaining transparency, and communicating clearly made all of these efforts easier.

During my 25 year Army Career, I was responsible for the “cradle to grave” Human Resource (HR) requirements for several organizations. This included: recruiting, conducting interviews, on boarding, unit orientation, training, professional development, evaluations, awards, talent management, separation, and legal-regulatory compliance. My success in the HR realm is largely due to the HR foundation laid while attending OU. Human Resources have everything to do with Human Relations.

Today I work as the Chief of Manpower for the first Four Star Female Combatant Commander in the history of the U.S. It’s a brave new world and my degree in Human Relations has proven flexible and applicable to every job I have had since graduation. This degree has served me exceptionally well, and I have every confidence that it will continue to do so.

-Michael Barnard