Returning to Her Essence: Susan Gervasi’s Story


The14-year-old self of Susan Gervasi is happy. At 14, Susan felt that her calling was to be a teacher. It was her gift, and she wanted to use it to make a difference in people’s lives.

Little did Susan know that after teaching children in public school, she would grow into an internationally-admired, award-winning leader in the field of Organization Development (OD), working with Fortune 500 companies and leading teams worldwide. But that’s not the part that makes Susan truly happy; it is the fact that her journey brought her back to her essence of teaching, and she’s doing it now at IOD, sharing her love of Education and OD with professionals around the world.

A lucky turn of events

 After years of teaching children in public schools, Susan felt the need for a challenge. She had obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education, so she was extremely well-prepared to continue her teaching life. However, a moment of luck in the early eighties put her in front of a friendly face at Motorola, which had just started the initiative of training their employees in Participative Leadership. This type of leadership program focused on nurturing employees in opposition to the autocratic management style that previously ruled businesses. She was initially tasked to teach three thousand students. With her extensive skills and positive attitude, she was the perfect fit for this role, she began an incredible journey into the then hardly-known world of OD that lasted over two decades at the company. “I was at the right place, at the right time,” explains Susan. As the saying goes, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”

Fortune again favored Susan as she met and brought Nancy Zentis, then a consultant and now the Founder and CEO of IOD, to help her grow the multitude of programs Susan was working on at Motorola and the two developed an excellent relationship. Because they worked so well together at training organizations across the country, this would become the catalyst for Susan to join the IOD family many decades later.

The world became her oyster

Susan’s career trajectory at Motorola was impressive. Whenever she was asked to do more things outside of her knowledge and experience, she never hesitated to say yes. She wanted to learn more, and this disposition brought her a promotion every couple of years. What started with training employees became running training organizations across the country, leading multiple teams, and helping the organization build processes, models, and assessments that allowed the entire company to grow. The company so appreciated her abilities that she was assigned the role of Director for learning and training for Latin America, where she not only helped develop employees but worked with channel partners and customers. After taking on that role, Susan’s horizons widened. She brought her skills to other companies where she was in charge of building business schools, establishing company culture, developing employee experience programs, developing processes, and guiding mergers and acquisitions in several countries across Europe.

Her successes did not go unnoticed as her work and her teams were recognized with multiple awards internally from the organizations and external partners. Susan proudly displays her awards in her office as a reminder of her work’s positive impact.

Finding her family again

After decades of helping organizations develop and building successes alongside fantastic teams worldwide, Susan was ready to come back to Florida, USA. That is when she reconnected with Nancy, who then invited Susan to join the mission of IOD. Without hesitation, as is Susan’s life philosophy, she said yes. She states, “I wanted to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of professionals who were in the position where I was many years ago, and help them navigate the good, the bad, and the ugly of a career in OD. I have been given a gift, and I want to share it.” Susan felt that she had moved away from the essence that was her, and by joining IOD, she found herself again doing what she loves.

Susan also loves that Nancy “runs IOD from her heart and truly wants to make a difference.” This approach inspired Susan to join IOD and now shares her gifts by training facilitators and designing courses and programs. However, her favorite part is teaching outstanding students the knowledge she would have loved to have had during her OD journey alongside her new family at IOD. For the past seven years, Susan has helped make it easier for professionals to get certified with OD programs geared at what they do in theory and in the practical application of what is relevant today to create healthy organizations.

Susan brings so much talent and experience to IOD, building exceptional programs and doing what she loves and does best: teaching. Susan prides herself on being an ambassador of IOD because she believes in the work the team does, united in mission, working hand-in-hand with the students, and learning so much from her students. 


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