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Bertrand Combines Tech With Leadership

Celebrates with a visit to a new FM combiner

Rob Bertrand, WAMU, FM combinerHow do you celebrate completing your master’s degree in organization development?

By posing with an FM combiner, of course!

This pic of Rob Bertrand, senior director of technology for WAMU(FM) in Washington, encompasses not one but two ambitious projects. “For me this photo symbolizes a major turning point in my personal journey as an engineer, a leader and as a person.”

I spotted the pic on social media so I asked him about it.

When Bertrand joined WAMU five years ago, he says, he figured he might pursue an MBA at American University, which owns the big public radio station. But after discussing it with a colleague in the IT department, he opted for an MSOD, Master of Science in Organization Development.

“She told me how many tech folks she knew who had gone through this renowned program at AU and found it to be transformational in how they led technical change in their organizations,” he told me in an email.

That program aims to help professionals turn into leaders. “Over the course of the two years, I met many engineers and former engineers who had grown frustrated with their technical feats not taking deeper root within their organizations. They (and I) found that the greatest challenge in a successful technical implementation was not just getting the technology right, which of course is essential; the real challenge was leading a change process within the organization that was actually embraced by people.”

Bertrand said the MSOD program “will forever inform who I am as an engineer and as a leader.”

That’s one accomplishment, but juggling it while bringing to fruition a complex master antenna project in his first few years at AU was the second.

You can read all about that project in our earlier article, but suffice it to say that the planning, design and construction work of that job fully overlapped his degree work.

“I was able to use what I was learning in the classroom throughout that project. In the end, it was those skills and not my technical background that made it possible to complete this enormously complex project within the boundaries of a university operation, on a tower surrounded by a university campus in an affluent enclave of our nation’s capital.”

Bertrand had envisioned being able to receive his diploma and then take a photo with the combiner. “It was my way of making sense of doing these two things simultaneously. And then COVID happened.” When AU finally held a belated ceremony, he finally got to take his photo.

Congrats, Rob, from those of us who celebrate lifelong learning.


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