How Kung Fu Panda and Wayne’s journey led to life’s secret ingredient.


This piece is brought to you in partnership with Queens University of Charlotte. Wayne Sykes, MSOD ’18, shares the path that led him to enrolling in Queens Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) program and how the experience impacted more than his career.

Wayne Sykes was recently asked to speak about his experience as an MSOD student. Standing in front of a group of 50 individuals, he set the stage for his journey with a comparison to Po, a clumsy panda and the protagonist of Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda.


“How many of you are familiar with the movie Kung-Fu Panda? It’s a great animated film that follows the journey of Po, a non-traditional Kung-Fu master. During a decisive crisis, with defeat looming, Po returns home. Sensing his pain, his father tries to cheer him up by sharing the secret ingredient to a long-held family recipe. That conversation reveals the answer that transforms Po’s life forever.”

Before Wayne reveals the secret ingredient, he takes us back on his journey. He was an Air Force brat who attended high school in Wiesbaden, Germany. He studied airway science at Hampton University and graduated from the US Army’s Officer Candidate School in Ft. Benning, GA. By his early 40s, he had achieved a moderate level of success but was still searching for that secret ingredient to career and personal happiness.

“I spent 5 years teaching in the public-school system and 14 years in different HR & training roles at Wachovia/Wells Fargo. When the events of 2008 unfolded, I knew I had to double down on my previous educational investments to secure my future for another 20 years in the workforce. At the urging of a Queens MBA student, I attended an MSOD open house. I listened to students and alumni share their experiences, and I knew I had found my tribe. I can still recall the confidence and certainty each panelist spoke with, and I wanted that certainty for myself.

“I began the MSOD program in the summer of 2014. As a result, I became a more competent employee and capable leader. I achieved greater professional satisfaction and found my passion in the field of instructional design. I gained an extensive professional network, supportive social network and brilliant intellectual network. Personally, I grew closer to friends and family. I changed how I approached relationships, listened and communicated. These achievements were not accomplished by following hidden signs around campus that read, ‘this way to the C-suite’ or ‘success ahead.’ This program helped me understand what our hero in Kung Fun Panda learned. *SPOILER ALERT* There is no secret ingredient. You have it already, you are the secret ingredient!

“Many of us made discoveries about our passions and purpose in the MSOD program. I hope that my gratitude for the program is expressed through my life’s work and the impact I have on others. I’ll close with a quote from my pastor that I believe applies to this program, ‘Head knowledge without heart knowledge is useless; but when head and heart join forces, it changes your life forever.’ I have been forever changed.”

Want to learn more about Queens MSOD program? Click here for more information.


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