Kelli R. Levey, December 12th, 2012
For many companies, the Center for Executive Development (CED) at Mays Business School functions like a silent partner. While companies are working each day to manage their daily operations and strategically plan for the future, the CED is working with them side-by-side to train their next generations of leaders. While clients of the CED may vary in size, industry and mission, they all are unified in their goals to develop the future leaders of their organizations.
While many business schools offer executive education programs, one differentiator of the CED at Mays is that every one of its programs is custom-designed for the client. Through a series of meetings with the CED leadership, the organization identifies its goals, and devises plans for programming. The structure, content, and location of each program are tailored to the client’s needs. After a plan is created with the client, the program courses are designed and taught by top instructors from Mays Business School, who are able to dive deep into each company’s individual challenges and opportunities.
By designing custom courses for each client, Mays faculty can use proprietary examples — from analyzing the company’s actual financial statements to using advertisements to illustrate marketing strategy.
Ken Fenoglio ’70, vice president of AT&T University, says Mays’ executive education programs “have added significant, bottom-line value to AT&T â€¦ The most valuable aspects of the programs are their timeliness, depth and degree of customization.”
He says the CED programs helped the company reach a priority set by its top-level executives: to raise the financial analytical competency levels of its management team.
Fenoglio says the impacts of each training session have been immediate. “We have literally had Mays faculty discussing and teaching our financial results and earnings call within 24 hours of the call.”
The customization of CED programs goes beyond the learning in the classroom. The CED serves a client base of about 1,500 people across six continents, and classes are held at Mays and at the global offices of its clients, in locations such as Buenos Aires, Argentina: Panama, Republic of Panama; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Lagos, Nigeria; London, England; Moscow, Russia; Aberdeen, Scotland; and Villahermosa, Mexico.
Most programs last a week and contain about 30 students. Almost 40 Mays faculty members from all disciplines teach in CED programs. Most CED faculty teach MBA and Executive MBA courses as well, so they bring their expertise in designing content for an experienced, executive audience.
Cindy Bigner, director of global diversity and inclusion and the corporate liaison between Halliburton and Mays, compliments how heavily invested the faculty members are in the success of their corporate clients. “They are professionals, and they work closely with us to make the class experience as challenging and applicable as possible,” she says of the courses. “We know they will emphasize our core values and our overarching goals because CED has taken the time necessary to develop a great understanding of what we do.”
As organizations grow, the need increases for leaders to have an understanding of all parts of businesses — not just specific areas of responsibility. To be effective, leaders have to cross-functional, and able to add value across the board. Many of the CED’s most popular programs are designed to address this issue. In programs such as “Financial Leadership for Non-Financial Leaders,” employees learn the nuts and bolts of their organization’s financials, which enables them to make better strategic decisions for the company, and to consider how those decisions affect the company’s financial success as a whole.
CED clients vary in size, industry, and mission, but are unified in their goal to develop the future leaders of their organizations. CED currently provides 83 weeks of programming a year across six continents.
Taking it a step further, some organizations offer their employees a “mini-MBA” from the CED — which provides a broad overview of their entire business model.
Fenoglio says he has seen the benefits of this strategy in action. “Our employees leave these programs with a much greater understanding of our organization, its real value drivers and how their efforts contribute to its financial success.”
Another asset of the CED is the ability to analyze, adjust and enhance education plans based on the needs of the organizations. Some companies may start with a narrow focus for their programs, but as their challenges grow, so do the opportunities to increase the training of their employees.
Bigner says she appreciates the long-term relationships the CED fosters with its clients. She says the center provides more than just an education — it engages in a true partnership.
Halliburton has expanded from an initial roster of five courses a year when they began eight years ago to its current schedule of 69 weeks, all around the world.
“Everything they do for us is top-notch,” she says. “Our partnership is unparalleled.”
Changing the way business looks at change
After their training sessions, participants return to their companies with new skills, a broader perspective and strengthened relationships with their coworkers. But the process doesn’t stop there. After each program, a review occurs to gauge its success, and any adjustments are made. Follow-up programs are usually developed, as well, to ensure long-term success and continued growth.
Ben Welch, who has been director of the CED since 1999, said he has seen many changes over the years but he has also seen one constant: “the culture within CED, and our desire to impact lives.”
Welch says the CED takes pride in delivering customized programs to each of its clients. And he says it is exciting to be involved with the development of the top asset of any organization — human capital. “Our collective efforts in CED help to shape the future of tomorrow.”
Give and take: Instructors on the value of teaching CED courses
Mary Lea McAnally, associate dean of graduate programs and professor of accounting, says teaching for CED brings her many benefits in her roles:
“Meeting executives and hearing stories of how they grapple with business problems lends richness to my research and teaching. Each time I am with a group of execs I deepen my understanding of the role accounting information plays in the real world. Plus, I leave with some very good stories to tell my full-time MBA students.”
Ricky Griffin, management department head and distinguished professor, says he values teaching in the CED and Executive MBA programs in addition to undergraduate courses:
“I find each venue to be unique, but each also helps inform the other. Teaching in CED helps keep me grounded. When you present an idea or concept to an executive audience you have to be able to explain how it applies to the real world.”
Michael Shaub, clinical professor of accounting, says he brings information from the CED’s corporate clients into the auditing class he teaches:
“I hate the word synergy but if I have any in my life, it is between my CED teaching and my auditing classroom. My CED experiences have regularly enriched the lives of my undergrad students. It also helps my students sense that the things we are learning have practical implications in the real world.”
Duane Ireland, distinguished professor of management, values the feedback on the relevance of the information he shares in his CED courses:
“Working with executives affords opportunities for me to “test’ different ideas I develop from time to time about what practitioners might do to increase the value they create for their organizations. In turn, feedback about the potential value of these ideas and the practices associated with them can be folded in my teaching of students pursuing their MBA and undergraduate business degrees. In this regard, I always gain significant insights about managerial practice by exchanging ideas with the successful executives with whom we are honored to work through our executive development programs.”
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