Reo Watanabe

PhD Leadership Studies


Tokyo, Japan

Expected Graduation Date


What do you hope to do with your degree, and why?

I would like to teach leadership at undergraduate and graduate levels. I would also like to widely promote real leadership with a high level of morality. Leadership is critical to our society, but at the same time it is often abused. I believe we need to be very cautious about how to deal with it.  

How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?

I heard that the SOLES PhD program in Leadership Studies is the oldest and the most comprehensive in the US. In fact, it covers a wide variety of research courses to highly experiential leadership development programs.

Furthermore, the doctoral students have various teaching opportunities here at the University of San Diego. USD is one of the Ashoka Changemaker campuses and offers leadership degrees from undergraduate’s Leadership Minor to Master of Leadership Studies in addition to PhD in Leadership.

Scholarly work is stressful, but I can always gain energy from the gorgeous weather and the wonderful people in San Diego and reinvigorate myself.    

Tell us about any internships, graduate assistantships, student teaching, practicum or fieldwork you have done through SOLES. Where did you work, what did you do, and how did it impact you?

I now teach LEAD 150 Emerging Leaders to undergraduates. It is my joy to see how students develop their leadership. I can learn leadership deeply by teaching it.

I also joined Professor Afsaneh Nahavandi’s research practicum and work on developing a cultural mindset assessment tool and a training program with other doctoral students.

Which class has impacted you the most? Why?

I strongly believe that leadership can be most effectively learned through active experience and deep reflection. LEAD 550/600 Integral Leadership Theory (Adaptive Leadership) challenges students to do both deeply. In the past, I took the course from Ronald Heifetz at Harvard Kennedy School and was inspired by the pedagogy. I was able to have a similar level of learning and experience from the course here at USD.