Portfolio building Featured

1:06pm EDT October 20, 2006
The interest in executive education continues to grow across the U.S. Employees and employers are recognizing the need to reinforce and reinvigorate their won leadership capacities and those of others within their organizations.

There are now more than 2,000 corporate universities in the country. They provide a mix of programs and delivery methods. Companies and individuals are looking at the opportunities and making choices that will affect their growth potential throughout their life span.

“Today, particularly, new entrants in the work force are becoming portfolio workers,” says Dr. Timothy Mescon, Dean Dinos Eminent Scholar chair of Entrepreneurial Management, Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. “They are interested in building their own resume or portfolio. At the same time, companies are recognizing the need for more knowledgeable leaders. These intersecting interests are driving the creation of more opportunities and the need to carefully consider the options.”

Smart Business talked with Mescon for more information on executive education and some of the things that employees and employers should consider.

What is driving the interest in executive education?
The world of business is moving at an incredibly fast pace. Companies are looking for better leaders who are equipped with the most up-to-date information and skills. Employees are looking at adding skill sets to be better able to compete in the changing marketplace. Education becomes a team retention tool that is very important to the employee and a plus for the organization. We like to say, ‘learn today, lead tomorrow.’

What are some of the things that companies need to consider?
There are three main areas of education available. They are specific skill development, leadership development, and special tracks for high potential (HiPot) candidates. The special tracks for the HiPot managers are accelerated programs.

Companies need to determine what skills and qualities will best serve them and seek out the programs that will meet those needs. The key is the applicability of the knowledge.

How are these programs being delivered?
What we see evolving is a mix of the traditionally delivered onsite and the emerging online programs. There is still a place for, and many benefits of, an interactive person-to-person education.

Twenty-four-hour access is an expectation of the younger generation. They are looking for programs that are convenient to them and not necessarily the organization. Location and variety of programs are also factors. Both forms of delivery have their benefits, and we are seeing them used effectively in tandem.

Who is paying the costs of these programs?
It is a combination of both the company and the employee. Pro-active companies are providing many opportunities. Smart employees will augment whatever is available from their company with things that complement and help build their own portfolio.

Employees need to control their own destiny. Most of the costs of many of the captive in-house MBA programs are paid for by the companies. Some companies pay only for credit courses and others pay for credit or noncredit. It may depend on their goals.

How important is credit over noncredit?
The individual needs to decide for themselves and in conversation with their employer the importance of degrees. Credit may be very important in some cases and in others not so important. It is up to the individuals to give the proper assessment and due diligence in determining what is best for them. Some programs have the option of credit or not. There is usually no difference in cost or content. A person may not be eligible for credit because he or she already has an MBA or may not have the prerequisite courses to obtain credit. Thus, more choice is available.

What do you see in the future for executive education?
There are unique alliances developing that reflect the changing expectations of corporate America. We are starting to see ‘pay-for-performance’ models. If XYZ Corporation doesn’t receive what it expects from a contracted program, it doesn’t pay for it. This puts the onus on the university to provide the program the company wants in a way that the participants fully grasp.

There is a profound amount of research that supports the fact that corporate entities that provide more education do better.

TIMOTHY MESCON, Ph.D., is Dean Dinos Eminent Scholar chair of Entrepreneurial Management, Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University. Reach him at (770) 423-6425 or tmescon@kennesaw.edu.