Tag Archives: Ken Blanchard College of Business

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.

education.business

Executives look to broaden knowledge base

The economic downturn created new levels of pressure that businesses never experienced.
Costs had to be contained. Operations had to be streamlined. The workforce had to be as lean and as efficient as possible.

It created pressure and questions for employees, too, as they questioned whether or not they had the skill sets necessary to survive and thrive during any economic crisis.

“We have seen a number of people enter our Ken Blanchard Executive MBA and MBA program as a response to the most recent (economic) downturn,” says Kevin Barksdale, dean of the Ken Blanchard College of Business at Grand Canyon University. “Some have done so because they had become unexpectedly unemployed.  Others as a hedge against that possibility.”

One thing educators say you can bank on, though, is that in the wake of the recession, fewer firms are paying for school.

“The current economic conditions have created more of a ‘hirers’ market and firms are looking for more educated people for their talent pool,” says Bill Berry, dean of the University of Phoenix School of Business. “These firms are paying less for education, but still want a well-educated workforce.”

As a result, Valley educators who cater to executives who aspire to prepare themselves for new levels of leadership have had to learn to become more nimble and adaptable with their curriculum and methods.

“The environment has been so unstable and change has become so constant,” Barksdale says, “that we have had to be willing to move quickly to support our executive students.”

One new program that is catering to the changing demands of the workforce and need for immediacy in the business community is the Master’s in Management (MiM) program at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. The program launches this semester.

(MiM) degrees are shortened programs that cost less, don’t require years of work experience, and provide recent graduates with the business fundamentals they will need to launch themselves into the workforce faster than MBA programs. A survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports a 69 percent spike in applications for MiM programs in the United States.

“GMAT takers and MBA applicants are getting younger and have less experience, signaling an increased demand for graduate business training without the work experience typically associated with an MBA,” says Dawn Feldman, executive director of the Center for Executive and Professional Development at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “In addition, employers have been indicating they need employees with strong problem-solving skills and fundamental business knowledge. Our MiM program is just nine months long and helps new grads to complement their existing knowledge from other fields with a basic business foundation. MiM programs already have a long record of success with students and employers in other areas of the world, such as Europe. We’re enthusiastic about the diversity of our incoming class.”

ASU’s MiM program is designed to take aspiring entrepreneurs and students from non-business backgrounds and teach them real-world skills that can immediately be translated and applied to a professional work environment and give them an edge in the competitive job market.

The University of Phoenix also offers its own Master of Management degree.
“Because University of Phoenix adapts our course curriculum based on changing industry trends and skills employers are looking for in their workforce,” Berry says, “the Master of Management degree is best fitting with the stated needs of today’s employers focusing on the skills required to work in a highly collaborative and culturally diverse organization.”

While those entering the workplace are looking for an edge on the competition, developing talent already working in the trenches was something that was a luxury during the economic downturn.

But as the economy transitions from recession to recovery mode, businesses are starting to focus on positioning themselves for future growth and developing internal talent.

“In the last six months we’ve seen a real increase in the number of organizations inquiring about leadership development opportunities for their employees,” Feldman says. “They know that their internal efforts alone aren’t enough. They’re seeking opportunities to develop people by exposing them to the business perspectives and practical knowledge that faculty at the W. P. Carey School of Business are uniquely positioned to share.”

With that in mind, the Center for Executive and Professional Development created the Leadership Development Workshops, a series of five standalone courses on topics that range from driving employee engagement to leading effective team processes. The workshops are designed for managers, project or team leaders, and those looking to advance into management roles. They can also provide a strong foundation for seasoned professionals who have little formal management education.

“W. P. Carey faculty are recognized worldwide for their research and thought leadership,” according to Gerry Keim, chairman of the department of management. “Yet it’s their skill at bringing new trends and best practice discussions into the classroom, focusing on the practical application of concepts in the current business environment, that makes the W. P. Carey School an incredible resource for managers and executives.”

The 2012 workshop topics include Driving Employee Engagement, Effective Negotiations, Inspiration and Motivation as Leadership Tools, Harvesting Knowledge From Frontline Employees, Leading Effective Team Processes. Topics for the 2013 workshops are being developed.

“Whether individuals attend all five or just one workshop, they will come away with new skills and approaches to business practices that will ultimately positively affect their employees and their organization’s bottom line,” Feldman says.

Regardless of what route business executives take to get there — whether it’s a workshop or going back to school to get and MBA — educators say the current focus of executive education is on the practical application of knowledge.

“Executives want learning opportunities that build capabilities and immediately allow participants to do their jobs better,” Feldman says. “Second, technology has given us the opportunity to build engaging learning experiences that connect people regardless of location, so online programs mirror the way work is done in today’s global business environment.”

The availability on online education has made it easier than ever for executives to expand their knowledge base.

“Our eMBA is an accelerated and blended model with face-to-face interaction during three distinct residencies and online learning in between,” Barksdale says. “Our MBA programs are offered face to face — traditional style — and online.”

In addition to the online options available, Barksdale says he has observed another change in executive education.

“I think the biggest shift has been the increased desire on the part of the student to learn more about themselves, their personal styles, and subsequently their leadership skills,” Barksdale acknowledges. “We have found executive learners to be more open than ever to receiving critical feedback with respect to how they lead and what might need to change.”
While executives may see furthering their education as a solo endeavor, educators urge them to seek out the guidance of others before embarking on their journey.

“Seek advice from your personal board of directors,” Barksdale says. “Discuss the reasons you want to go back to school. What would you do with the new knowledge?  Talk to students in the programs you are considering. Ask them questions around the curriculum, the learning environment, and the learning culture. Consider whether the programs you are looking at devote significant time to leadership development or not. This to me is critical in the life of an executive.  Finally, some people might suggest to choose a program that fits your lifestyle.  While this is not bad advice, I might add that if you are looking for the MBA or graduate degree to be a transformational journey, perhaps you might consider a program that intentionally alters your lifestyle. The disruption can be a good thing if you use it to re-focus and re-center your career and life trajectory.”

The W. P. Carey School of Business contributed to this story. To learn more, visit knowwpcarey.com.