Spotlight Archive: SIM Spotlight Featuring Christine Whalley and Adrian Salageanu -April 2019

SIM Spotlight Featuring Christine Whalley and Adrian Salageanu
The Value of the RLF Program


Christine Whalley is currently Director of Information Security for Barnard College. She completed the 2014 NY Metro Regional RLF program.  When she enrolled, she had been with Pfizer for 10 years.

Christine shared with me that she started the RLF program with some skepticism and with 30+ books to read. She said the journey surprised her in a positive way.  She felt she was able to explore leadership and found the path that worked best for her.  Christine said “there was no pre-set plan and the only requirement was to be present and engage with the books in the curriculum and her fellow RLFers”.

Christine said RLF was transformative.  She had always been told by her managers that she needed a plan to manage her career, however, Christine said she was never driven by getting the next title on the career ladder, but instead has thrived on finding roles that would make a difference, regardless of their status in an organization.  She discovered, with the help of the RLF program that she has been able to adapt to unexpected opportunities which has given her the chance to explore and experience new things.

The RLF program gave her the insight and self-awareness that she could be her “authentic” self.  It helped her identify what excites her, challenges her and discourages or bores her.

One of the RLF books, Leadership Passages: The Personal and Professional Transitions that Make or Break a Leader, by David L. Dotlich, James L. Noel and Norman Walker, provided a real awakening for Christine. The chapter on “Letting go of Ambition” spoke to her and shaped where she would go next. One of the messages in the book that resonated with Christine was that “Leaders who transcend ambition have the opportunity to become truly expert in their areas of interest. Free of career imperatives, they can devote themselves to what they do best…They are willing to risk failure in order to gain important knowledge”.

After RLF, Christine made some important changes in her life.  She focused on finding opportunities to have influence and exercise leadership.  She joined the Industry Advisory Board at the University of Bridgeport, she became secretary of the Science and Law Committee at the NY City Bar Association, she joined the board of her local library foundation, she joined a SIM Mentor Circle and she found a new position at Barnard College.  While her area of expertise, information security, is the same as it was at Pfizer, she completely changed her work universe and her sphere of influence.  She is enjoying her role and the ability to have strong impact at the college.

While Christine says she does not have a defined plan for the next five years, she expects there will be change and she knows she will be exploring opportunities to contribute and provide leadership and influence.

Adrian Salageanu is a Senior Consultant with Nathanson and Co.  He attended the 2015 NY Metro Regional Leadership Program and said it was a leadership accelerator and great introspective experience.  Adrian was working for XL (Global Insurance and Reinsurance) in a senior infrastructure management role.  During the RLF program, XL acquired Catlin to become XL Catlin—being part of the RLF program was beneficial as it provided Adrian with guidance and support, helping him lead his organization through the turmoil that resulted from the merger.  

He felt that through the RLF program, having access to CIOs who shared their stories, career paths and challenges helped put things into perspective.  He also liked that the program significantly increased his network and the ability to collaborate with peers, especially outside of work. 


He added that the program was fun in spite of time demands.  There was a lot to read and prepare for, but many of his new friends have said they missed the program once it was over.  Adrian’s group has gotten together a couple of times afterwards and they have continued the book reviews.

Adrian said the program reinforced the value of personal growth.  He said he was always intellectually curious, however this program pushed him to do even more.  The program gave him context, the ability to see things in a different perspective and consider alternative solutions. The program helped him to think about himself, his leadership style, his career and what he enjoyed doing.  It also showed Adrian that even with a demanding job, he could stretch and do more.  He actually sought new leadership opportunities at work and outside. He was the PTA President at his kids’ school for 2 years, lead a team of volunteers to run events that strengthened the community, while also raising funds for the school.

Having a broader network, plus access to the SIM groups, has allowed Adrian to stay connected to peers. It made it easy and natural to reach out to folks for advice and help. Adrian joined one of our Mentor Circles this year.

Adrian said he was able to apply lessons learned from RLF almost immediately. While attending the RLF session, one of his projects at work turned “red”. He returned to work having to deal with a crisis.  He said he could apply what he had learned, used a different approach and turned the situation from a “let’s find the guilty party” to a “how can we work together to fix this.” He was so pleased to see people come out of their shells and apply themselves differently once he set the right tone.

Adrian said bottom-line: RLF is about you as a leader, gaining a better understanding of yourself and appreciating the impact you can have.  He also advises future attendees to stay in town overnight vs. commuting in every day. The group dinners help strengthened the relationships with others on a personal level.

To learn more about the RLF program: See the SIMNET.ORG website and/or contact Vincenzo Nelli at

Written by Beverly Lieberman