Tag Archives: executive education

education.business

Educators say executives can increase workplace value

Despite signs of what most people view as a recovering economy, more than half of Arizona’s workforce stresses over job security.

A recent University of Phoenix survey revealed that 61 percent of working adults worry about losing their jobs in the current economic climate and 20 percent anguish over it at least once a week.

“In a challenging economic environment, workers should be doing more to position themselves as leaders in their organizations, but the survey finds that many are holding back at work, and this can have a negative effect on performance and productivity,” said Dr. Sam Sanders, college chair for University of Phoenix School of Business and a former human resources executive with more than 20 years of hiring and employee relations experience. “Those who understand the big picture and how their own skill sets help their companies achieve goals should have more confidence and can have an advantage in the workplace.”

To separate themselves from others and to create more job security, many executives are strengthening their skill sets through education.

“The trends in executive education is for shorter duration programs than those that preceded the recession, with emphases on acquiring skills that lead to promotions or career advancement and new market opportunities,” said Dr. Kevin McClean, interim dean, Ken Blanchard College of Business at Grand Canyon University. “Another key ingredient is the opportunity to network. These objectives are not really different from those that motivated people to pursue executive education in the past.”

Executive trends

Some of the shifts that educators are incorporating into graduate business programs include more emphasis on leading in turbulent times, developing organizational talent, innovation and creativity, and flexible, participative strategic planning.

“Executives are being asked to take on more responsibility and act more holistic in understanding the interdependencies of people and functions in organizations,” said Dr. Kirk Wessel, dean of Angell Snyder School of Business at Ottawa University. “This is being reflected in curricula.”

Educators are also being asked to help prepare executives and business students to deal with increasingly more complex business issues.

“For example, rather than teaching executives innovation or risk, we are talking about ‘risk-bound innovation,’” said Dennis Baltzley, Ph.D., senior vice president of executive education at Thunderbird School of Global Management. “Leaders want to know how to create an environment of innovation, while creating a ‘boundary’ of risk management. We must innovate, but more than ever, a bad decision can be fatal.”

Baltzley said Thunderbird is also seeing a dramatic interest in global global leadership.
Our customers want to know how to lead effectively across borders, cultures, different business models and philosophies,” Baltzley said. “Since 2008, growth has been slow in the U.S. and other mature markets. This led many businesses to leap into emerging markets with the promise of double digit growth whether they were ready or not, and most were not as ready as they would have liked.”

Paul Melendez, assistant dean of executive education at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, said he is seeing four specific trends:
* Customization: Executive education is becoming much more tailored to specific organizations, with programs, content, and learning customized to the unique needs of the organization. While many business schools still offer one- or two-week open-enrollment programs, organizations are finding it more beneficial to develop a program that is tailored to their executives.
* Consulting: The natural extension of customized programs is a consulting model where education and problem-solving are combined into a program. “We have helped organizations develop their culture, strategically plan, and develop a wide variety of business improvement plans through programs that also provide education for leaders,” Melendez said.
* Strategic partnerships: Eller Executive Education has developed strategic partnerships with Miraval and Canyon Ranch to offer programs that join cutting-edge leadership and management principles and with world-class health and wellness programs which they have dubbed “integrative leadership.”
* Privatization: A year ago the university spun Eller Executive Education out of the UA to allow greater operating flexibility. “As a result, we are now providing many more custom program for private, governmental, and non-profit organizations,” Melendez  said. “We have seen a number of other state business schools also privatizing their executive education organizations.”

Increasing your stock

Michael Bevis, director of academic affairs at University of Phoenix, said more executives have started to approach their careers in the same way they approach business management by focusing on building their personal brands.

“When you think about a company brand, it isn’t just about what you are communicating, but how that brand addresses the needs of the intended audience,” Bevis said. “One of the things I work on with executives and other business students at University of Phoenix, is developing a personal business plan that starts with the personal mission statement. You wouldn’t run a business without a plan and the same should be true about your career. If you are not setting goals, measuring progress and making sure your knowledge stays current and relevant, your personal brand — like that of a company’s — can become stagnant.”

So what programs are out there for executives to utilize to strengthen their brand?

* University of Phoenix: Within the MBA programs, concentrations allow executives to grow specific skills. It is common for executives or business owners to have specific knowledge about an industry or certain aspects of business management, but skills or knowledge gaps in other areas. Concentrations can help professionals hone certain skills, such as people management, finance or marketing.

* Thunderbird School of Global Management: Thunderbird offers a range of options from its short programs — less than a week — to its more in-depth MBA offerings. “We have a Global MBA Online that allows you to learn global business from anywhere in the world and an Executive MBA that’s on-campus, but provides a schedule suited to the working professional. “ Baltzley  said. “We also offer online certificate programs which are designed specifically for working professionals looking to improve their marketability and gain a leading edge over their competition.

* W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University: “Our executive-education programs, such as our leadership development workshops and our certificate programs in real estate, supply chain management, and service excellence, can give executives deeper skills and expose them to new ideas,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business. “However, if they want to move into leadership roles beyond their current functional areas, then the MBA is the best option, though short non-degree courses that develop leadership skills are also helpful.”

* Eller College of Management: Eller Executive Education offers a variety of week-long programs and year-long programs for leaders of different types of organizations. “We are also launching a program in early 2014 that is specifically oriented toward CEOs of mid-sized to large companies,” Melendez said.

* DeVry University: Keller Graduate School of Management offers seven specialized master’s degree programs and 13 graduate certificate programs.

* Ken Blanchard College of Business: GCU offers very practical programs that include a master’s in leadership, a masters in accounting, and a masters in public administration.

* Angell Snyder School of Business: Case teaching methodologies teach executives to think critically about all internal and external factors that come into play in developing effective organizational strategies, irrespective of the industry.

Moving forward

The most important message that educators have for executives who may be worried about maintaining their position in the current economic climate is to stay current on trends in your industry, keep your brand current by understanding how your skills and experience fit into the big picture of an organization.

“This past year, we were asked repeatedly how to be effective in managing a diverse, multicultural, and geographically dispersed workforce, and how to stay relevant in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world,” Baltzley said. “Without question the term ‘VUCA’ has come of age and has several implications for executives who want to remain relevant today.”

To stay in the game, Baltzley has three pieces of advice for executives:
1. Get your head into what it means to think globally. If you think your company is domestic and American, and it will never go global, you are wrong, global is coming to you. In fact, global is probably already there, in the form of complex supply chain issues or direct competitors, so you better get prepared.
2. A term coined in the late 1970’s is important here – “Permanent Whitewater” – That is, if you think the whitewater is going to slow down, or that a calm patch is just around the corner, you are mistaken. You have to prepare yourself for leading in constant change in scale and speed.
3. Check your personal leadership style. Are you able to influence people very different than yourself? Do you enjoy variety, the unknown, surprises? Is your self-confidence and personal energy level pretty high? Do you like to test yourself, take some risks? If you can’t answer “yes” to most of these, you have some work to do to become a more adaptive leader.

Companies Continue To Turn To ASU - Az Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Despite Hard Times, Companies Continue To Turn To ASU For Executive Education Offerings

You might think companies designate the development of managers and executives as a low priority as they try to weather the storm of a recession. Though it’s true many companies scale back tuition benefits and send fewer people to executive education programs, most business leaders still are keenly aware they need to develop current and future talent, especially as the economy begins to recover.

Because of the recent recession, firms had to reduce staff precisely at the time when the first wave of baby boomers — a vast reserve of knowledge and experience — is set to retire. This leaves a much smaller and less-seasoned population of Generation Xers with the responsibility to manage the incoming “boomlet” of millennials. As a result, professional development opportunities no longer are considered a “perk,” and organizations are much more purposeful in identifying future leaders among current managers, and providing them with learning and development opportunities that are cost effective and build capabilities that translate into business results.

This situation raises a number of challenges and opportunities for business schools, which over the last 20 years have expanded from their traditional role of providing companies with freshly-minted graduates to also partnering with them in the development of their existing talent pools. Like many business schools across the country, Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business assumed this new role, in part, by creating a wide range of degree and non-degree programs for working professionals.

The school’s Center for Executive and Professional Development (CEPD) provides short, non-degree courses and certificates, including customized programs. The school’s MBA program is offered in executive, evening and online formats. The school’s full-time MBA program currently is ranked in the Top 30 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The evening MBA program is ranked in the Top 20.

Two part-time master’s degrees also are offered to working professionals: the Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) is a one-year evening program that prepares IT managers; and the Master in Taxation (MTAX) is a one- or two-year evening program focused on the skills needed to provide tax advice and administer tax laws.

New demands from companies continue to raise the bar on all of W. P. Carey’s programs for working professionals. In response to customer surveys, CEPD recently shifted away from offering multi-day, on-campus short courses to instead scheduling courses over multiple evenings, weekends and online. This minimizes disruption to work schedules. This August, CEPD will launch a series of online, one-week “mini-courses” in marketing, finance, accounting, information systems management, leadership and supply chain management. The courses will be taught by W. P. Carey faculty.

The center also has ramped up its ability to design and deliver custom programs, with objectives and learning materials that can be tailored to specific industry and company needs, and that can be delivered on campus, at company locations, provided entirely online or in a “blended” live/online format.

The school’s professional MBA programs also have several initiatives underway. One involves a deepened focus on leadership across all of the working professional MBA programs. That includes community leadership in concert with an increased focus in the business world on corporate social responsibility.

In addition to integrating significant, new leadership components into the coursework, students, alumni and staff from all of the W. P. Carey MBA working professional programs also recently engaged in volunteering and fundraising for various local nonprofit organizations. The school also initiated annual Student Leadership Awards, with community leadership a major criteria for nomination and selection.

The school’s two other masters programs for working professionals, MSIM and MTAX, also are aligning their programs more closely to the needs of businesses. In the MSIM program, student teams work on a year-long project with a company of their choice (which, in most cases, is their employer). They analyze the competitive forces within the company’s industry, then come up with a transformation plan involving a major IT component and leveraging all the courses they’ve had in the MSIM curriculum.

“Companies see real value in the projects,” said the program’s director, Uday Kulkarni. “Some of our past projects have been actually used by companies, since the plans make specific recommendations about technology platforms, capital and revenue budgets, human resources and project rollout.”

He also points out that the program holds an executive seminar series four times a year so “Valley leaders can speak directly to students about how they are transforming their businesses.”

Similarly, the MTAX program incorporates local practitioners as instructors and seeks to maintain a cutting-edge curriculum through a rigorous annual review process that includes input from an advisory board composed of alumni and distinguished practitioners.

In many ways, the school’s challenges in increasing the accessibility and impact of its programs for working professionals are similar to those faced by companies as they strive to better serve and expand their customer base.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

University of Arizona Customized Executive Education - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

University of Arizona Targets Niche Markets For Customized Executive Education

The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona has a customized executive education program that targets highly skilled professionals with advanced degrees in the industries of medicine, bioscience and engineering, and who are called upon to lead key divisions within the company.

These leaders frequently have had little or no formal training in essential business concepts and strategies. This “gap” between technical expertise and business training is widely recognized by the executives affected. Customized executive education can be designed to successfully bridge this gap, and specifically target an organization’s unique learning goals and performance objectives. The Eller College business of medicine, business of bioscience, and business of technology programs present topics and address issues specific to the client organization.

All executive education certificate programs are categorized as non-degree. Many Eller College business of medicine programs qualify for Category 1 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit for physicians, in partnership with University of Arizona Health Sciences.

Step 1: Exploratory meetings
The director of executive education meets with the organization’s executives and key stakeholders to review the company’s strategic goals and objectives. A preliminary needs assessment facilitates a better understanding of the company’s challenges, which leads to the identification of specific learning objectives. Based on the outcome of these meetings, a proposal outlining the suggested curriculum is presented for discussion and review. Once the proposal has been refined and the contract executed, the project moves into the development phase.

Step 2: Program development

The proposed curriculum is fleshed out in detail using Eller’s 3-Cs of customized executive education development: content, context and critical mass. The content of each session, or module, must be results-driven, i.e. what action, behavioral change or deliverable is the ultimate goal? Next, how can the material be given context through embedding unique/specific corporate data, projects or activities into the module design? The third C is critical mass. The college believes that in order to effect behavioral change, or create momentum strong enough to enhance and influence actions beyond the classroom, there must be sufficient participation to create consensus, as well as critical mass within that organization.

Eller executive education programs are designed for a minimum of 15 participants and a maximum of 50. Faculty and industry experts are selected based on their formal areas of expertise, as well as specific industry knowledge or experience particularly relevant to the audience. The client’s key stakeholders or planning team collaborates with the executive education team and UA faculty in developing the curriculum. Optimal results are achieved when instructors have ready access to key personnel within the organization during the development process for purposes of discussion and feedback. Also needed is access to pertinent data and internal reports relevant to the topics covered, and the overall learning objectives of the company. To ensure confidentiality, a non-disclosure agreement is put in place at the beginning of the development process.

Step 3: Program delivery

Custom programs are a minimum of one day in length and may be considerably longer based on the needs of the organization. Typical programs consist of multiple sessions or modules, with each module being one-and-a-half days to two days in length. Classes are dynamic and participatory; attendees engage in inter-session activities and exercises designed to transfer knowledge back into the organization after formal sessions are concluded. Participants are expected to complete advance readings prior to each session, and may be asked to complete specific activities following the module or between (multiple) modules. Classes may be conducted at either of the Eller College locations in Scottsdale or Tucson, or at a client-designated facility.

Step 4: Program feedback, evaluation and review

Following the conclusion of each module, program participants and other key stakeholders are asked to complete an evaluation designed to rate the process, instructors, content and deliverables. All evaluations and feedback, both formal and informal, are jointly reviewed by the Eller executive education team and the company’s management team. Specific activities or follow-up sessions are frequently assigned at the conclusion of each module to reinforce content, action items and deliverables.

Executive education as an investment

Customized executive education is an investment in a company’s single most important asset, its people. Every company is faced with the challenge of successfully developing, motivating and retaining top employees. This applies equally to current executives and high-potential individuals who are key to the company’s future success. An investment in executive education can pay significant dividends in many different ways, whether it is adding value that visibly impacts the bottom line or one that substantively enhances a company culture that believes in promoting excellence through continuing professional development.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

cubes floating in air creating a map of the world

Global Negotiations: New Executive Certificate Program Coming Online

With globalization accelerating at an exponential rate, acquiring the knowledge and capability to achieve sustainable business success is paramount. It is important for executives to develop their understanding of cross-cultural negotiation tactics, and discover their power position and power approach for successful business.

“Global negotiation courses and cross-cultural communication are the two main focuses for business executives in 2010,” says Erin Wilson, associate director of executive education at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale.

In response to this growing demand, the school created a new online program, the Executive Certificate in Global Negotiations.

“Negotiation is an art,” the school states on its Web site. “All negotiations are delicate operations, and crafting agreements is a challenge no matter who the players are. Stakes are higher and negotiations trickier, however, when the parties involved come from different cultures and customs, it may result in a negotiation session hijacked by misunderstandings or unexpected culture clashes.”

Wilson says the executive certificate is an online program involving three, eight-week courses that may be taken anywhere in the world. Those who participate in the course will be able to interact with other executives via online discussions.

“The courses are designed so that they may be globally offered with no in-person interaction,” she explains.

The executive certificate program was first introduced in February, with additional program dates opening April 5 and June 7
.
The certificate program is designed for any professional — at various levels of responsibility — who works in a cross-cultural environment, or for those who want to gain more knowledge about working in this type of environment, Wilson says.

Taken together, these courses provide the participant with a comprehensive education in core global negotiation concepts and cross-cultural relations. While each component course may be taken separately for an individual certificate of completion, they must be taken as a three-course track to earn the Executive Certificate in Global Negotiations.

“The three courses that make up the Global Negotiations certificate have different focuses, but together make a comprehensive package,” Wilson explains.

Certificate participants will learn:
Negotiation approaches for global management.
Strategies appropriate for a wide range of negotiation situations.
Techniques for recognizing and leveraging trust in a multicultural context.
Strategies for identifying cultural preferences and gaps in a multicultural negotiation.
Key methods of preparing and planning for negotiation success.
Strategies for working through an impasse or breakdown.
Techniques for identifying and using “hardball” negotiation strategies.

The courses are broken down into:
Cross-Cultural Communications — Participants will learn to identify cultural communication nuances and strategies for achieving an even cross-cultural playing field. Students will gain insight into overcoming cultural communication obstacles through case vignettes, video role-playing and instructional checkpoints.
Course objectives:

  • Examine the definition of culture, cultural expectations and how these impact business relationships.
  • Review a “framework” for analyzing differences and similarities across multiple cultures based on 10 cultural dimensions.
  • Explore the impact of cultural differences on managerial communications and meeting etiquette.

Essentials of Global Negotiation — Students will examine the theory and practice of negotiation among individuals, organizations and groups in the context of globalization and multicultural social interactions. They will discover techniques for reacting to and addressing cultural differences in communication/negotiation style, while learning to adjust their own style to be most effective in the negotiation setting.
Course objectives:

  • Gain an understanding of the nature of global negotiations.
  • Define a basic framework for preparing to negotiate in a global/cross-cultural situation.
  • Learn why strictly following key strategy steps for problem solving is critical in a cross-cultural context.
  • Recognize the role of psychological, cognitive and social dimensions of negotiation.

Managing Conflict with a Global Mindset — Participants will examine the behaviors and conflict management negotiation styles of individuals, organizations and groups in the context of competitive, impasse, breakdown and difficult situations. They will learn to manage communication and conflict by understanding the cultural wants, needs and expectations of others — and adjusting their style and techniques to most effectively confront and overcome conflict.
Course objectives:

  • Explain how the attributes of a “global mindset” affect global negotiation and conflict management.
  • Learn the tools necessary for evaluating and managing conflict and divergent needs in negotiation.
  • Become more sensitive to key psychological factors, emotional issues and behaviors that can be destructive to problem-solving negotiation.
  • Enhance your awareness of the costs, privacy, flexibility and efficiency of alternative dispute resolution and problem-solving mechanisms and techniques.
  • Increase your knowledge of “breakthrough” strategies.

Program participants work independently, Wilson says, but there are three forums that will require class discussion.

“The facilitator will post a topic, which will then require input from the class or the online discussion board where participants are required to interact and respond to one another,” she says. “As this is the first time that Thunderbird will be running the class in this particular format on our own, we are not entirely sure what the class makeup will be. My estimation is that the majority of participants will be currently located within the U.S., though many will be executives that work abroad on a regular basis.”

For more information on the Thunderbird School of Global Management’s Executive Certificate in Global Negotiations, visit www.thunderbird.edu. Allie Bell contributed to this report.

GCU’s Executive Education Programs Focus On Busy Business Leader

By taking academic principles and putting them in real-world scenarios, the Ken Blanchard College of Business at Grand Canyon University (GCU) is helping companies enhance the level at which they are operating. It does this through leadership programs that help busy executives work more collaboratively and with a constant eye on the big picture.

“Companies are looking for ways to enhance their competitive position, identify new opportunities and foster the development of their people,” says Ken Blanchard College of Business Dean Kim Donaldson. “We’ve developed programs that can help enterprises accomplish great things.”

The Corporate MBA Program offers companies an opportunity to identify and train a select group of promising future leaders with content similar to that found in the Ken Blanchard Executive MBA program.

“This program is in direct response to what is happening in the economy,” says Don Fraser, senior manager of the Ken Blanchard EMBA. “Though they might have cut expenses, such as tuition reimbursement, companies still face important issues such as succession planning. We can help companies grow their internal teams.”

The Corporate MBA program includes a four-hour, in-person kick-off presentation by Ken Blanchard.

“Ken Blanchard is such a motivator, and the opportunity for companies to have him come on-site and share his philosophies with their executives is priceless,” Fraser says.

GCU has staffed the program with top-notch faculty who will come to a place of business for two in-person sessions, while monitoring students throughout an eight-week course. There are a total of 10 modules over a 20-month period.

Since the cost can be spread over two years, it can be conducted completely tax-free for employers.

“We have priced this so that with more students enrolled, the tax benefit for businesses just gets better, and if 14 students are enrolled it can be a complete write-off,” Fraser says.

For executives who desire a more intensive experience, the Ken Blanchard Executive MBA Program offers students a 12-month program covered both in-person and online, in a class that includes students from a variety of industries and disciplines.

Known for the best-selling “One Minute Manager” and as an entrepreneur heading the San Diego-based Ken Blanchard Companies, Blanchard partnered with GCU to offer the one-of-a-kind, “leadership-first” program for executives. The residency curriculum, taught face-to-face by Blanchard and some of the nation’s top business leaders, is based largely on his writings, “Leading at a Higher Level” and “One Minute Entrepreneur.”

The 12-month program of study consists of three intensive four-day sessions facilitated by Blanchard, both in Phoenix and in San Diego, while students take the remaining coursework online. It is based on principles Blanchard has honed with Fortune 500 companies over the last 40 years. Underpinning it all, the Ken Blanchard Executive MBA places a strong emphasis on character, ethics, values and identifying a higher purpose and vision for a company.

“We constantly hear from students that they learn something one day and use it the next day, often with measurable results,” says Taylor Carr, director of the Ken Blanchard EMBA. “The impact can be immediate and profound, especially since our participants are in leadership roles and already have a mindset for leading positive change.”

One of the program’s recent graduates experienced this first-hand. As the person responsible for the training, policy and procedures for the 8,000 flight attendants with US Airways when Flight 1549 went into the Hudson River, Scottsdale resident Sherri Shamblin was able to immediately incorporate lessons learned from her executive MBA classes into the crisis situation.

“I had to lead by serving them, and surprisingly enough, that’s what many executives tend to forget. Rather than being a self-serving leader, you need to be a serving leader,” Shamblin says.

The Ken Blanchard EMBA program is highly rated for its participation by respected business leaders. Its advisory board members include former Southwest Airlines President Colleen Barrett, author of “Nuts! and Guts” Kevin Freiberg, nationally syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay and former Senior Vice President of Corporate Governance for Tyco International Eric Pillmore.

As Ken Blanchard EMBA graduate and Avnet executive Fred Cuen experienced, the program’s curriculum can be customized for internal teams to help businesses work smarter. Cuen brought one of his favorite marketing exercises, led by Grand Canyon Professor Kevin McClean, to his colleagues at Avnet Technology Solutions to help them understand the interrelationship of the marketing mix.

“The exercise is designed to emphasize important concepts such as the value of consumer research, innovation, financial performance, market performance and, most importantly, customer satisfaction,” McClean said.

Cuen, who is a senior vice president and general manager at Avnet TS in the Americas, adds: “With a large company like ours, it is critical for our leadership team to gain real-life experience through education. In this case, we took a group of managers through a computer-simulation program that focused on running a business. Giving them hands-on experience in running a business prepared them for their future leadership positions. This exercise went a long way in helping our executives keep that big-picture perspective.”


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010


Students/employees succeed post-recession

New Program At Thunderbird Aims To Help Students And Employees Succeed Post-Recession

Lately, the national and international media have been reporting that the economy is recovering. The chatter is that many of the key indicators (other than unemployment) are starting to predict that we may be just a quarter or two from the “light” at the end of the tunnel.

That light, however, could be snuffed by yet another crisis — a crisis in sustainable leadership. The loss in human potential caused by the high demands and increased stress related to reductions in human resources and development of remaining talent could be catastrophic for businesses.

Sure, many of the cost reductions in companies and organizations have had a positive impact on margins and liquidity, but will this be sustainable? Many executives have shared their doubts about whether the changes and strategies they put in place during this recession will make their organization more capable of reaching their future targets. Even worse, they question their own energy and capacity to continue to try to keep up, let alone get ahead.

This is the crisis at the end of the tunnel. There will be many opportunities that emerge from the post-recession economy. Unfortunately, too many leaders and organizations still will be in survival mode because they are numb, tired, foggy and lack the passion to really capitalize. In short, they won’t have the gas in their tank to use the knowledge they have to bring their business back to the level it should be.

The last year has been a time of less. Less people, less investment in the people remaining, less optimism, less outward focus (on the customers and the opportunities) and less training. Unfortunately, it also has led to a lack of high-performance behaviors. In order to see the light at the end of the tunnel businesses and organizations must change the paradigm to one of MORE. More energy, more passion, more productivity, more preparation, more focus and more design.

The Thunderbird School of Global Management recognizes this missing link in the executive world. This is why it is collaborating with Tignum to incorporate sustainable high performance training into the school’s own work force and educational experiences. The aim is to ensure its employees, graduates and executive education clients not only garner the business and cultural skills needed to run sustainable organizations, but also the personal capacity to maintain their own long-term performance and competitive edge.

Sustainable high performance training was first introduced to Thunderbird’s faculty and staff during a kickoff event on Aug. 18. Later that month, similar presentations were made to new full-time students. Thunderbird now is integrating the program into campus life through follow-up workshops and an on-campus communication campaign. School officials say the goal is to help participants overcome habits that lead to burnout by building a solid foundation that can sustain high performance throughout their careers.

Thunderbird and Tignum also are working to develop a sustainable high performance program for corporate clients who come to the school for executive education.

“Incorporating sustainable personal leadership training with Thunderbird’s No. 1-ranked global business education furthers the school’s mission to produce global leaders who make a lasting impact in the world by creating sustainable value for their companies and communities,” Thunderbird President Ángel Cabrera said in a statement. “In order for individuals to create lasting value, it is imperative they be equipped with strong global business skills combined with a socially responsible and global mindset and the capacity for their own sustainable high performance.”

The fact is, the knowledge, skills and strategies that have gotten businesses to this point will no longer be sufficient to achieve long-term goals in the future if companies do not invest in the sustainability of their people.

Recently there was a special issue of the Harvard Business Review called Leadership in the New World. The name of this issue alone explicitly implies that what we knew in the “old” world won’t work in the future. The habits that you’ve used to be successful in the past won’t be enough to ensure your success in the future.

The New World will require energized, responsive, agile, creative and attentive leaders. It will require that they energize and inspire others so they can meet their customers’ desires and stay two steps ahead of the growing and gainingcompetition. This will require new personal habits to increase their energy, resilience, brain performance and capacity. In the past, too many executives saw these things as a “nice to have,” but now these things are a “strategic must.” Your own personal energy and resilience are your foundation upon which all of your performance is built.

Sustainable high performance is a condition where you are highly motivated, your self-esteem is strong, your excitement to handle challenges is evident and your physical energy is abundant. People perceive you as present,grounded, responsive and focused. You implement sound judgment and innovative solutions, maximizing your impact on your team, company, brand and the world. Sustainable high performance is showing up consistently with your best game on.


executive education

During Hard Economic Times, Executive Education Helps Workers Keep Marketable Edge

It may be hard to believe, but in tumultuous economic times, executive education is somewhat recession proof — at least as far as employees are concerned. People who have lost their jobs have more time to go back to school, while those who are still employed may feel the need to enhance their skills.

University administrators and instructors see no less interest in educational opportunities as the economy spins downward. Even businesses that have downsized continue to pay a portion of tuition costs for those employees who remain. But at companies where training and development programs are among the first to be eliminated, experts suggest such moves are shortsighted.

Andy Atzert, assistant dean of the Arizona State University W. P. Carey School of Business and director of the school’s Business Center for Executive and Professional Development, does see a diminished demand from companies for customized executive education programs.

“The reason is that they are very visible expenses, a big line item that a company can slash when desperate,” Atzert says. “They’re shifting back to open enrollment. They’re not necessarily cutting back on education funding for individuals. The money is distributed through departments and it’s a less visible expenditure.”

Employers benefit from executive education programs in today’s economy because the skills of employees who remain expand. For example, an engineer who is promoted to fill a vacancy might need to acquire knowledge about marketing.

Strange as it may seem after layoffs, another benefit is employee retention.

“When a company lays off people, it worries about the effect on people who remain,” Atzert says.“You’ve pared down, and you don’t want to lose more employees. That’s one of the reasons for not cutting the education budget.”

Atzert describes education, and that includes executive education programs, as being “a counter-cyclical business.”

“What commonly happens in an economic downturn is that when there is not full employment and not a lot of jobs out there, people seek opportunities to retrain,” he says. “People who are employed polish up their resume a bit, just in case. Insecurity causes a person to make oneself more competitive.”

Mike Seiden, outgoing president of Western International University, agrees that historically, education is recession proof.

“We don’t see any abatement coming to us for degree programs,” Seiden says. “When people are losing their jobs, they recognize that a degree is important, and when times are good, companies support their employees by providing educational opportunities. I don’t see any change in that, but I say that with a little bit of caution. This economic climate is a lot different from anything we have experienced in the last 40 to 60 years.”

While Arizona’s three state universities are facing budget cuts, and some smaller niche colleges are encountering economy-related problems, Western International, a forprofi t private institution that is part of the Apollo Group Inc., is not feeling a negative impact, Seiden says. Employer subsidies seem to be holding steady.

“But if unemployment increases substantially,” Seiden says, “and companies become more hard-pressed, who knows what will happen?”

Both ASU and Western International University have executive education partnerships with the Salt River Project. At ASU, the Small Business Leadership Academy provides CEOs of small and diverse businesses with a 10-week program designed to help take their businesses to the next level.

The first class, which consisted of 11 SRP suppliers and five SRP business customers, completed the program last November. A second group will start taking classes next August. Offered one evening a week at the ASU School of Business Tempe campus, the classes focused on such topics as business strategy, negotiations regarding terms of contracts, employee retention and corporate procurement.

“They learn what we look for as a procurement organization, so when they get my requests for proposals they know what to be prepared for,” says Art Oros, SRP manager of procurement services. “They have already shown tangible savings. The improvements helped them to maintain the edge they need in these times.”

The companies that participated are small businesses, many of which are minority owned.

“We had good diversity — all ethnicities and cultures,” Oros says.

At Western International, SRP helps to subsidize its own employees’ education as they pursue degrees.

“A company’s ability to help provide an education for its employees is paramount in today’s world,” Seiden says. “It not only helps ensure that the company will retain its employees, but it will improve productivity.”

Paul Palley, who teaches economics and statistics at the University of Phoenix, says his classes naturally turn to discussions of current events.

“The subject of bailouts is something that is brought up a lot,” says Palley, a city of Phoenix economist. “Students don’t really understand what’s going on. Bailout is not the best word. In many cases, it represents an investment — government purchasing equity. Sometimes students feel not enough is being done, and sometimes they feel too much is being done. It changes from student to student and from day to day.”

Kevin Gazzara, who recently retired from Intel, where he was program manager of management and leadership, is senior partner of Magna Leadership Solutions and University Research Chair for Organizational Behavior at the University of Phoenix. He has developed a statistical tool that enables employers to link training and development programs with business results.

“One of the first things to go in difficult economic times is training and development,” Gazzara says. “From our perspective, it should be one of the last things to go. Many organizations utilize training, but don’t know if they are getting a return on their investment. In tough economic times, I tell organizations to restrain from the urge to cut training to save some relatively small dollars.

“As managers are being asked to do more with fewer resources,” Gazzara adds, “raising their levels of skills so organizations can compete becomes essential, and the only way to do that is having the right training.”