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ROI on mba

Higher Degrees Are Still A Solid Investment In Corporate America

If ever there was a time for a Master in Business Administration to pay dividends, this is it. In a troubled economic climate, experts say businesses are more careful about who they hire. Having an MBA opens doors to jobs and salary levels otherwise out of reach, and it provides a layer of protection against downsizing.

When the economy is in a downturn, the employees businesses let go first are the least valuable. People who are investing in themselves, gaining new skills through an MBA, send a signal to the marketplace that they are the one a business wants to keep.

Gerry Keim, associate dean for the W. P. Carey MBA in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, says MBAs are better off in the job market under any circumstances.

“They’re more likely to get hired in today’s environment than people without an MBA, and when the economy is booming and everybody is getting hired, these are the people who tend to move up,” Keim says.

Craig Bartholomew, MBA, vice president/director of the Phoenix Campus of the University of Phoenix, says economic downturn, slow market and rising prices are terms being used to describe the current economic landscape.

“The word recession is looming over everyone’s heads, employers are hesitant to add staff, and one’s climb up the career ladder may look like it is coming to a sudden halt,” Bartholomew says.

Earning an advanced degree goes a long way toward enhancing one’s economic future.

“Initially, it might seem like a risky investment, but trends traditionally indicate that now is the time to gain a competitive career advantage through a higher-education degree,” Bartholomew says. “A slow economy is temporary, but higher education is a long-term investment that can make a professional more valuable today and in the future.”

But Keim doesn’t necessarily believe that having an MBA in and of itself makes a difference.

“The market is very discriminating,” he says. “Having a degree is not enough. Having an MBA from a school with a very strong program is a good investment. You have to have skill sets and mind-sets that enhance your ability to manage in today’s business world.”

Last year, 97 percent of ASU’s MBAs landed jobs within three months of graduation, and the program was on target to match that mark in 2008. In what Keim calls “a very down economy,” salaries and bonuses are in the upper $90,000 area, perhaps even six figures. MBAs are making almost double what they were before entering the program, he says.

One of the key elements of the MBA field involves competition. Schools compete for the best students and the students compete against one another for the best jobs. Competition among students gets especially tense. Earning an MBA from an elite, private university can cost upwards of $120,000, compared to $32,000 for a full-time student at ASU, Keim says.

Some students from elite schools, such as Harvard, wind up owing $100,000 when they graduate.

“Our students graduate with virtually no debt,” Keim says. “They get to take home their entire salary. I’d say that’s a pretty good investment.”

Richard Bowman, area chair for graduate business at the University of Phoenix, a faculty member for 16 years and a financial planner, sums up the value of an MBA, telling his students: “You will run into a point in your career that to move up to the next level, a master’s degree is required or desired. If you want to be promoted to operations manager, director, vice president or general manager, you will not be competitive without an MBA degree or a master’s in general.”

An advanced degree is also vital in the military if an officer hopes to rise above the rank of captain, Bowman says.

Pursuing an MBA online has the advantage of flexibility. Bowman says he has taught students online who were in such places as Iraq, Kosovo, Japan, Great Britain and China. It’s convenient for mid-level managers who travel a lot, he says, but there is little opportunity for interaction with other students and the instructor.

He tells of working mothers who are full-time employees.

“After they put the kids to bed, they can do their master’s degree,” Bowman says.

Students involved in cheating are more likely to engage in unethical practices such as insider trading.

University Of Arizona Program Teaches Undergrads The Importance Of Good Ethics

In the 21st century, incidents of corporate malfeasance have become commonplace. America witnessed the implosion of the onetime energy wonder Enron, the fall of telecommunications giant WorldCom, and the collapse of mortgage miracle Countrywide, just to name a few.

Not surprisingly, questions were quickly raised about the role business schools played in such scandals, the implication being that B-schools encouraged the blind pursuit of profit maximization and a “winner-take-all” mentality. While such fiery rhetoric is provocative, it’s important to point out that such pursuits run counter to the basic tenets of long-term, sustainable business practices taught in business classes.

While B-schools certainly have a role to play in promoting ethical practices, such a tremendous responsibility can’t fall squarely on the shoulders of B-schools. It is our families and institutions in society that must also demonstrate and reinforce personal and professional ethics.

Even though a host of ethics initiatives, centers, and/or institutes bubbled up across the nation in response to highly publicized cases of corporate corruption, nearly all are situated at the graduate level among MBA students and centered on matters related to corporate governance. The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona launched its ethics program in 2003, and it was met with interest and enthusiasm for being markedly different.

The Eller ethics program, E-tegrity (Eller Integrity), is aimed at undergraduate business students and is focused on connecting academic integrity in the classroom with future behavior in the workplace. As research suggests, student behaviors demonstrated in the classroom can carry over into careers. Put differently, students involved in cheating are more likely and at-risk to engage in unethical practices such as insider trading.

From the onset, E-tegrity was supported by Eller College Dean Paul Portney. Leadership from the top is always imperative to begin and maintain any program. Equally important is the buy-in from faculty and students. Faculty affirmed that the college had a responsibility to promote ethics and were invigorated with the prospect of establishing a culture of strong ethics. Students also proved deeply interested. With this broad base of support, E-tegrity began.

Prior to the start of the fall 2003 semester, faculty were asked to take three simple, but important measures in their classes: (1) include a college-adopted student oath statement on syllabi that addressed both academic dishonesty and academic misconduct, (2) formally handle all academic integrity cases, and (3) use the anti-plagiarism software (Turnitin.com) purchased by the college.

The code of conduct statements on syllabi would help ensure that faculty sent a consistent message to students. Formally handling cases would encourage that due process would be followed and cases would be officially reported. The anti-plagiarism software would help deter and detect plagiarism, which accounted for 70 percent of university academic integrity violations in 2002-2003. By adopting these measures, the faculty would take on the primary responsibility for the enforcement component of the program.

Because E-tegrity called for a cultural change in the college that centered on student involvement, in the same fall 2003 semester, students were invited to apply for membership to a new student organization known as the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity (EBHI). EBHI would ultimately be charged with the educational component of the program, working with students on a variety of innovative programs to help raise awareness. Members of EBHI would: (1) Develop a student oath that would be administered to students upon entry to the college; (2) offer presentations to students on the importance of ethics, whereby they not only promoted, but were expected to exemplify personal integrity and ethics among their peers; and (3) assist with the organization and delivery of a series of new and innovative programs that have come to define E-tegrity on a national scale.

Ultimately, the programs of E-tegrity are aimed at three levels: K-12, collegiate and executive. At the K-12 level, there is the High School Ethics Forum. EBHI members facilitate discussions among the city’s top high school students on matters related to personal and professional ethics. At the university level, there is the Eller Ethics Case Competition, in which top B-schools from around the country send their very best students to compete in a three-day event that challenges the ethical reasoning of students. At the executive level, there is the partnership with the Tucson Chapter of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) where students from EBHI comprise a single vote in the BBB’s Annual Business Ethics Awards process. In the near future, EBHI members will also serve as teaching assistants in the college’s first ethics course. In this capacity, EBHI members will assist with the course objective of promoting ethical decision-making.

Over the past five years, E-tegrity has gained traction and matured as an ethics program. By connecting academic integrity in the classroom with future behavior in the workplace, the college motivates students to examine their personal values and consider all stakeholders in their decision-making.E-tegrity has been the recipient of various awards for excellence, and innovation has provided meaningful guidance to B-schools around the country looking to address and support ethical behavior on the part of undergraduate students and future business leaders. The real payoff will come in several years, when we begin to graduate students whose entire college career will have taken place in an atmosphere of high standards that are clearly articulated, widely honored, and vigorously enforced.

Paul Melendez is the founder and director of the ethics program at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. For more information on E-tegrity, visitugrad.eller.arizona.edu/etegrity

Custome Fit EDU 2008

A Custom Fit EDU

By Don Harris

From two hours to two years, customized education programs are being offered to boost the performance and expertise of executive-level employees — and as a result improve a company’s bottom line.

Often, businesses struggle with putting the right person in the right leadership position. Even then, there might be gaps between what the person knows and needs to know. Customized programs are designed to fill those gaps.

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The focus of universities is on education, not necessarily training. There is even an executive education program that puts upper-level employees directly into community service through nonprofits as a way to help those in need and at the same time generate new skills and ideals that will benefit the employee’s own business.

Andy Atzert, assistant dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and director of the school’s Business Center for Executive and Professional Development, says the center aids companies by expanding the knowledge and skills of managers and leaders, but doesn’t do tactical training, such as how to write a business plan.

The types of industries that utilize the center, Atzert says, include financial services, health care, technology, semiconductors, automotive, agribusiness, supply-chain services, information systems, and two major out-of-state oil companies.

“There is a demand outside Arizona for the expertise that we have,” Atzert says. “In fact, a majority of the companies are from out of state, and many of those are engaged in our online program.”

When Atzert says customized, he means customized.

“Some companies want a two-hour seminar, others want a customized MBA program that will take two years,” he says. “We deliver the program at company locations, at ASU or online.”

Because many companies have global work forces, the online option is getting increasingly popular. It’s more costly to send a person to an off-site location, not because of the travel expenses, but because of the time involved in being off the job, Atzert says.

Many of the courses offered focus on supply-chain management, which is a business discipline that has to do with how goods and services are bought and moved from one location to another.

For example, Toyota faces several supply-chain challenges in obtaining all the parts and materials needed to build an automobile. Atzert identifies questions the ASU program helps answer, such as what is needed, where does it come from, how do they buy it, how do they decide what to buy, how do they work with their designers, and what’s the best way to optimize their efforts and expenditures?

At the University of Phoenix, AZ LeaderForce is a program that pairs key business leaders with local nonprofits in a yearlong project to help improve the various organizations’ services and train those executives seeking leadership guidance.

Rodo Sofranac, University of Phoenix curriculum developer, says the program benefits businesses in a number of ways, including quality-of-life awareness, increasing leadership skills, and ethics.

“The issue is for participants in a project to take what they have learned and experienced back to their workplace and incorporate it in their personal life,” Sofranac says.

The University of Phoenix, which provides classroom facilities, produces a curriculum and donates its services for AZ LeaderForce, works with the Collaboration for a New Century, an organization formed about 10 years ago through the efforts of Phoenix Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo. Topics covered include ethics, integrity, leadership, critical thinking skills and the social responsibility of business.

Steve Capobres, executive director of the Collaboration for a New Century, says the organization targets poverty issues and enlists the business community to work with human service agencies.

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“At the same time,” Capobres says, “we have an executive leadership development program going on. We not only want their time, we want to mold them, cultivate them to become the next generation of business leaders. It’s a yearlong curriculum that takes them through the issues of what a good corporate citizen is. What does it mean to work in the community? What is your own leadership style, your ethics? It’s all about building good corporate leaders who are going to replace our older, retiring leaders.”

Among the corporate participants are Salt River Project, Bank of America, UBS Financial Services, State Farm Insurance, Lennar Homes and American Express.

“By taking people outside the world of business and putting them in the community to deal with the issue of poverty,” Capobres says, “those employees are going back to the company to be a better manager.”

wpcarey.asu.edu
www.phoenix.edu
www.thecollab.org

AZ Business Magazine October 2008 | Previous: Big Money… | Next: At Your Service
West-MEC provides career and tech training

West-MEC Provides Career And Tech Training To West Valley Teens

Keeping with its goal of enhancing the education system in the West Valley, WESTMARC is a major proponent of West-MEC — the Western Maricopa Education Center District. West-MEC is a public school district that provides Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to more than 21,000 high school students in the West Valley. West-MEC was formed in 2002 after eight west side communities voted to form the Western Maricopa Education Center. Today, 12 districts and 39 high schools make up the West-MEC district. Not only is WESTMARC a business partner with the school district, but also, President and CEO Jeff Lundsford is on West-MEC’s governing board.

Greg Donovan, West-MEC superintendent, says combining efforts and expenditures allows West-MEC to offer students more than any one district could offer alone.

“Some career and technical education programs require a lot of very expensive equipment,” he says. “Individual districts may not have the space, money or expertise to offer such programs, so we help fund the programs and provide the necessary equipment.”

West-MEC programs include classroom instruction, laboratory instruction and work-based learning. Some of the career and technical education programs offered include business, finance, marketing, technical and trades, and health occupations. A school district works with local business and industry to build educational links to employment and continuing educational opportunities. Business leaders such as Mike McAfee, director of education for the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association (AADA), which represents and supports all new car dealers in the state, work with the school district. They help determine employment sectors to focus on the type of programs and equipment needed for training.

McAfee helped Peoria High School become the first high school in the West Valley to earn NATEF Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and offer a class that teaches brakes, steering suspension, electrical and engine performance. High school students in the West-MEC district can take the same automotive classes at Glendale Community College. Ford, GM and Chrysler provide new vehicles and equipment for the program at no cost to the college so students can train on new vehicles. Gateway Community College has the same type of partnership but with Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Kia.

“With more than 230 million cars and trucks on the road today, demand for highly skilled techs is going to continue,” McAfee says. “So when we employ students in their junior and senior years, we want them to continue their education.”

Experienced technicians typically earn between $30,000 and $60,000 annually in metropolitan areas. Incomes of more than $70,000 are not unusual for highly skilled, hard working master technicians, according to the AADA.

Stephanie Miller, a graduate of Willow Canyon High School in Surprise, wanted to explore a career in health care, so she took a two-part, CTE lab class during her senior year. When the class was over she was certified as a phlebotomist in Arizona. Miller’s certification landed her a job at Sun Health Del E. Webb Memorial Hospital, where she works as a part-time phlebotomist. She also attends Arizona State University and is taking classes to earn a degree in physical therapy.

“This is my first job and I make well over $10 an hour so I consider myself lucky,” Miller says.

Justin Rice, 19, a graduate of Centennial High School in Peoria, took automotive and medical CTE classes during his senior year. The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes were held at Glendale Community College. Since Rice was in high school, he did not have to pay the $800 tuition for the EMT classes.

“If I hadn’t had this opportunity, I would still be saving to take the classes today,” he says.

Rice now works as a part-time EMT for First Responders Inc., which provides medical support during Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns games, and for Little League games.

West-MEC opened a new cosmetology training center in July for students who attend high school in the West-MEC district. The 10,000-square-foot facility in Peoria is operated through a partnership between West-MEC and Gateway Community College’s Maricopa Skill Center. The center opened with 240 students and next year, enrollment will increase to 480 students, which is the center’s capacity. Students who complete the state-required minimum 1,600 hours of instruction will be eligible to take the state cosmetology board exam to become certified cosmetologists.

Chris Cook, West-MEC’s director of marketing and public relations, said the two-year cosmetology program costs $1,200 instead of $8,000 to $15,000 for the same program after high school.

A 2007 survey conducted by the National Accreditation Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences showed that owners of Arizona salons are hoping to hire more than 6,800 individuals this year.

“Students benefit greatly from these programs,” Cook says. “It’s a stepping stone to a career or post-secondary education.”