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Education for global executives: empowering organizations.

To be a manager in today's competitive global economy means being more agile than ever. Companies need leaders who can think strategically, act quickly and move their organizations forward with best practices, international perspective and creative abilities. Universities in the Americas and overseas are responding to these needs with innovative programs that are both topically relevant and sophisticated in their delivery.

Consider the motto of the Stanford Graduate School of Business: "Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world." The words illustrate the far-reaching mission that educational institutions throughout the Americas are adopting for the corporate world. Stronger leadership skills, more cohesive teams, a more entrepreneurial culture, and greater efficiency in day-to-day operations are among the benefits.

For instance, a team from Hasbro turned to Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth for a customized program on how to make its brands more relevant to a Latin American audience. "We saw a clear benefit to the company," says Clark Callahan, Tuck's executive director. "Hasbro learned about the critical branding issues, and created action teams that made recommendations to senior management."

These kinds of alliances are occurring throughout the region. When Farmacias Ahumada of Chile acquired a Mexican pharmaceutical retailer, it partnered with the Graduate School of Business Administration and Leadership (EGADE) at the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. "We developed a program that successfully transformed their retail managers into business unit managers," said Jaime Alonso Gomez, dean of EGADE.

Up-and-coming executives at multinational companies learn the best strategies to enter foreign markets in a course taught by Professor Martin S. Roth, executive director of the International MBA program at the Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. "In addition to classroom sessions, our students meet in a virtual setting online that mirrors the way many managers have to work today. That builds their communication skills, as well as their ability to analyze business situations."

In Mexico, a recent graduate of Universidad Virtual (Virtual University) of Tecnologico de Monterrey used his expertise with online technology to build "chat" and instant messaging (IM) channels within his organization, greatly increasing internal efficiency and productivity.

Executive education delivers tangible and intangible benefits for Latin American companies. ITAM in Mexico recently developed a customized management development program for Mexican and Central American executives of a global multinational. Monica Sacristan Fanjul, dean of university extension at ITAM in Mexico City, says, "The company has been able to see a clear return on investment on the program. Just a couple of projects brought back by their students have more than returned all their expenditures. In addition, the program has helped foster a shared culture based on striving for excellence."

MANY PROGRAM OPTIONS

Organizations today have a wide array of options for educating their global executives:

TRADITIONAL ONE- OR TWO-YEAR GRADUATE DEGREE PROGRAMS. Typically, students attend classes full-time on a university campus to earn a master of business administration (MBA) or equivalent degree. Students may sign up on their own for these programs in order to improve their individual skills, and many companies pay at least a portion of an employee's tuition. "All MBA programs are becoming global, one way or another" says Joel A. Smith III, dean of the Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. "We're also seeing more specialization within MBA offerings, such as focusing on finance, marketing or supply chain management."

EXECUTIVE MBA PROGRAMS. Students enroll in a specially tailored EMBA program, attending classes on weekends or in online sessions while still working for their employers. "We have observed that business schools are definitely offering more Executive MBA programs," says Jerry Trapnell, executive vice president and chief accreditation officer of AACSB International--The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, based in Tampa, Florida. "These programs are conveniently scheduled on the weekend or on a part-time basis."

"EXECUTIVE EDUCATION" AND CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS. These shorter-term educational programs typically focus on certain aspects of business, such as leadership, logistics, finance or marketing; some students receive certificates upon completion. "Certificate programs are highly valued by companies," says Sacristan. "An executive education certificate is very valuable for a student when looking for a job or a promotion."

DISTANCE-LEARNING PROGRAMS. By utilizing the Internet and other communications tools, students can earn a degree or certificate without having to attend on-campus classes. These types of flexible learning programs are ideal for executives who travel frequently or cannot attend a nearby university. Other universities combine the distance-learning option with intense week-long campus visits or study sessions in international locations.

CUSTOM EDUCATION. A growing number of businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations are teaming with a business school to create an on-site learning experience that meets their specific requirements. "The Latin American Leadership Program (PLL) we designed with IAE Business School has been a unique and successful experience for our leaders throughout the region" says Rodolfo Gonzalez, Latin America HR director for Monsanto. "We have been able to share, broaden and discuss our strategy in depth with participants from various countries through the academic learning process."

While learning about specific business topics, students taking in-person programs have opportunities to demonstrate their leadership and teambuilding skills, says Callahan. "Study groups can be used as a method to look at team performance. While you can teach and study leadership skills, you really want to give students plenty of practice opportunities."

Sean Bandarkar, program development director, Executive Education, Stanford University, says both in-person and distance-learning models have their advantages. "If you are looking for a transforming learning experience and making changes in an organization, a situation away from your day-today environment is ideal," he says. "You can easily share ideas and experiences with a group of people, often from different parts of the world, and gain new perspectives."

Distance learning offers a convenient way to teach specific skills, such as engineering or accounting, or to reach out to students who can't attend in person, Bandarkar adds. "Distance learning can also help with the implementation of a program, since a senior manager can complete a program, then use technology to spread those concepts throughout the organization."

A GROWING DEMAND

Demand for executive education, especially programs customized for larger corporations, is growing throughout the region. For instance, IAE Austral in Buenos Aires, which recently moved to a new campus in Pilaf, Argentina, is serving multinationals like The Walt Disney Company. "IAE provides students with sound knowledge on business theories, culture and decision-making processes," says Edgardo Rosso, finance vice president. "Second, it offers an ethical perspective, and lastly, it teaches individuals to know themselves better, to develop their leadership potential as managers."

At IPADE in Mexico City, most participants come from family-owned businesses. IPADE stresses the importance of human behavior and covers the business-family issues from various perspectives, which help them in planning for passing the business to the next generation.

Government agencies, public school systems and health care organizations are also turning to business schools. In Mexico, many state-owned health clinics will be operating in more of a free-market economy, according to EGADE's Alonso Gomez. "We have been training the medical doctors to become directors of business units," he says.

The Moore School of Business reports a growing interest in Latin America among students from other parts of the world. "We are seeing foreign nationals who want to build their second-language skills through immersion experiences and internships in Latin America," says Roth. "We also have Latin American students enter our program in pursuit of careers in the United States or Europe. Other Latin students want to broaden their exposure and take their new expertise back home with them to enable their companies to be more successful."

Distance learning meets the needs of both organizations and individuals, according to Patricio Lopez del Puerto, president of Universidad Virtual of Tecnologico de Monterrey, an institution that uses advanced technology to deliver its educational programs. "The Virtual University offers flexibility in time and space for people who cannot attend regular classes because the demands of their jobs or personal circumstances," says Lopez del Puerto. "For companies, the Virtual University can provide homogenous training at a reasonable cost for a large number of employees spread out across a broad geographical area."

GROWTH AND INNOVATION

When it comes to executive education, Latin American companies today are thinking more about growth and innovation than cost control, says Bandarkar of Stanford University. "Latin American companies want to learn how to innovate, develop a product strategy, improve leadership and move the company forward," he says.

Another learning trend is a strong interest in globalization, adds Bandarkar. "Many Latin companies that are strong regionally want to be players on the global stage. As part of that strategy, we partner with them to help them think globally and execute their strategy."

Ethics and corporate responsibility are important components of executive education programs at most leading business schools, in response to the changing nature of the world's investment and business environment.

Latin American executives, managers and entrepreneurs are also interested in programs on innovation and new technology. Recognizing this need, IPADE has launched a new "Innovation and Technology Management" program.

Alonso Gomez says EGADE's executive education programs include the development of skills related to innovation. "In the new economy of knowledge, companies don't only compete with innovations in products and services," he says. "They need to be innovative at the level of their business models, as well." For example, a Mexican manufacturer might utilize a European firm for product designs, an Asian factory for manufacturing and a sales force in local territories around the world. "Today, business models and decision making need to go beyond one single region or culture and take a global perspective."

CUSTOM EDUCATION

Custom programs allow executives to interact in a structured learning environment. "Many problems may be seen with new eyes when executives discuss their company or an other real business situation in the classroom," says a spokesman for IPADE.

Over a three-year period, Mexico's leading cement manufacturer, Cemex, sent more than 300 top global managers to an IPADE customized learning program in Miami. "Today, Cemex has become widely known for its success in the industry, and Lorenzo Zambrano, chairman and CEO, has publicly recognized the importance of IPADE in Cemex's growth," says the spokesman.

Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth is seeing a shift from the traditional open-enrollment model to custom executive education, according to Callahan. "There's also a hybrid program we call a consortium, where half a dozen companies might partner to design an initiative for themselves," he adds. "It's a powerful concept with a high impact on the organization."

For instance, four U.S. and two foreign companies are taking part in Tuck's "Global Leadership 20/20" program, which is designed to prepare younger executives for transnational assignments. "The big advantage of custom education is that it's geared to the specific strategic issues of a firm," Callahan adds.

A RETURN ON INVESTMENT

For organizations considering an investment in executive education, there are many benefits to partnering with a well-established business school:

* Ability to learn from top faculty members in many different disciplines.

* Access to up-to-date business research and case studies.

* Opportunities to assess a student's desire and ability to work with others in a team setting.

* Fostering networking opportunities among students within the organization, as well as with potential business allies.

* Obtaining a perspective that stretches beyond the horizons of the current organization.

Most corporations today are taking a close look at where they are spending their education and training dollars, according to AACSB International, which accredits business school programs. "Companies want to know that they will get added value for their investment," says Trapnell. "It's somewhat like buying a piece of equipment. There is a lot of scrutiny of the purchase before it is made."

Trapnell advises companies to look at the institution's accreditation status as well as its track record in producing results.

While it can be difficult to quantify the return on investment from executive education, a well-run program can deliver both immediate and long-term benefits. "Executive education has a qualitative impact on the organization," says Stanford's Bandarkar. "And the learning that students bring back can have great deal of longevity as well."

For More Information

EGADE at the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico: www.itesm.mx

IAE Business School, Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires, Argentina: www.iae.edu.ar

IPADE, Instituto Panamericano de Alta Direccion de Empresa, Mexico City: www.ipade.mx

ITAM, Mexico City: www.itam.mx

Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina: www.moore.sc.edu

Stanford Graduate School of Business, California: www.gsb.stanford.edu

Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: www.dartmouth.edu

Virtual University of Tecnologico de Monterrey: www.tecvirtual.itesm.mx
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Title Annotation:business schools alliances with companies to improve standards of executives
Comment:Education for global executives: empowering organizations.(business schools alliances with companies to improve standards of executives)
Author:Westlund, Richard
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Advertisement
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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