A legacy of leadership: Rob and Maya Kirkland
This father-daughter duo share a unique experience that not many have–the opportunity to learn from the same program, 20 years apart.
The bond between a father and daughter can be a special one, and it becomes even more extraordinary when they share the same passions and goals.
And the bond holds true for Rob and Maya Kirkland – a father-daughter duo who both participated in the Leadership Development Program at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
Rob (MBA ’02) completed the Leadership Development Program in 2000, and Maya is a current LDP student graduating in May 2023.
Both Kirklands enrolled in the Leadership Development program as an introduction to full-time graduate studies—Maya wanting to get exposure to MBA courses and build a community of support, and Rob, fresh off a six-and-a-half-year stint with the United States Army, wanting to get back in the swing of school.
Rob works at Amazon as the finance director of the North America stores consumables business. Many of his day-to-day responsibilities include working on some of the most exciting businesses at Amazon like health and personal care, pets, and grocery.
His daughter Maya is a change management consultant with Box, a cloud content management company that empowers organizations to rethink the way they securely connect their people, information, and applications.
A shared experience
As Maya explained her reason for joining LDP, she mentioned her father’s experience was always in the back of her mind.
“He gave me information on why the program would be a good fit for me, what I’d get out of it, and how it would help me in the future, especially with where I am now in my career,” she said.
Rob also spoke to Maya about James Calvin, the academic program director for LDP. Rob has kept a relationship with the professor for over 20 years, and he’s told Maya about his experience and the wealth of knowledge she would gain from Calvin while in the program.
But for the most part, Maya says she really wanted her father to be a mentor, someone with whom she could share information or issues who would allow her to problem-solve on her own.
Rob laughed, saying, “Maya acted as her own agency. She signed up, reached out, and is now connecting with the instructors and other participants to learn valuable career information. And it makes me proud because I know she will walk away with the same personal and professional growth that I did. I’m a proud dad.”
Rob says he is still carrying the knowledge from the program in this phase of his life. He is still in contact with his LDP colleagues and utilizes his network when helping other people. And he uses what he’s gained from the program at Amazon.
“Amazon has leadership principles similar to the ones taught in the program,” he said. “Many of the lessons we learned line up with what Amazon’s leadership is built on. We continue to build upon our diversity initiatives at Amazon, so a lot of those conversations we had in courses throughout LDP show up in my conversations today.”
Maya is reaping the same benefits. As someone who speaks with customers daily to help them strategize the best ways to adopt the tools into their organization and ensure they are comfortable using it, she says LDP has given her a new perspective on how to speak with customers, leaders, and her executive teams.
“I’m a better leader because of it. I can now speak their language and understand the executive team’s goals for the organization and what’s driving them,” Maya said. “We’ve had many conversations focused on our strengths and what we bring to the table. And to learn my own strengths and be able to pick up different learning lessons from each other, it has helped so much.”
Maya says LDP lit a fire under her father’s transformational exposure and leadership experience. And the networks she built, the experience of learning from Calvin, and the biggest lesson–how to be a global leader—are all key takeaways that Maya says will be with her for her entire professional career.
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A legacy of leaders
It’s not every day that you hear of a legacy family in the Leadership Development Program. In fact, the Kirklands are the first.
“You want your children to have the same impactful experiences as you did,” Rob said. “And at the end of the day, I’m happy she is having this opportunity because I can empathetically understand a lot of things she talks about. It’s even better to be able to look back and see how far Carey Business School has come since I was in the program and the new opportunities she will now have.”
Maya’s parting words? She said she knows what she brings to the table. Through conversations with her cohort and the LDP instructors, she has picked up different learning lessons from each phase of the program. And each lesson has given her the strength to show her value as a young professional.
“It’s an experience I can’t imagine not having.”
Sharing LDP has been a bonding experience for the already close father-daughter pair. Rob regularly celebrates Maya’s achievements thus far, and Maya acknowledges her father’s continued encouragement. In leadership and in life, that kind of support is one of the most important lessons there is.