Growing Markets For Customization Through Executive Education

Managerial & technical people need various competencies in order to effectively diagnose, understand, explain & act appropriately, based on what is happening around them in their jobs.

The last ten years have again brought significant change to the executive education industry.  Shorter, more targeted development opportunities are needed. Corporations are looking for assessments, coaching, mentoring, and consulting services. The price of custom programs is under pressure. Digitization of content and developments in technology-enabled learning are moving much of executive education out of the university classrooms and into smaller group settings, often within the workplace. The executive education customers are looking for development opportunities that are globally delivered, customized to their organization and industry, multi-lingual, less expensive, and targeted to fill the skills gap of its upper management. Companies focus on training schemes to develop promising executive talent. Major companies have long depended on governments to educate their future employees, but traditional education systems are no longer delivering the skilled graduates that companies want to hire. The effects of rapid technological advancement are only now being felt by the world’s primer business schools. A new wave of companies is taking a far more active role by collaborating with schools, nonprofits, and governments to improve educational outcomes directly. Through the concept of shared value, these companies are finding new ways to grow revenue and increase productivity by helping to raise levels of student and workforce achievements. Introducing conflicting and competing initiatives is among the best ways to reduce the sustained implementation of effective practices. Professional colleges are the feeders of professional people with the required competencies to the business organizations. Managerial & technical people need various competencies in order to effectively diagnose, understand, explain & act appropriately, based on what is happening around them in their jobs. The purpose of professional education is to equip the students with necessary skills that would help them to face real business situations in their career. This article analyzes that professional students should have professional competencies to face challenges in the modern era of globalization, liberalization, and privatization.

Dr David Butcher, Director Executive Development programs at Cranfield School of Management, says: “Business schools rely on executive education — known as a “cash cow” for its revenue generation — for the bulk of their income. The challenge for business schools, particularly university schools like Cranfield, is to have a distinctive offer that cannot be replicated by non-business school providers.” the growing role of talent and capabilities in companies’ strategies (and the growth and professionalization of the corporate learning/development function) has driven a significant shift towards company-specific custom programs.  The trend towards organizationally focused learning will continue to strengthen based on client needs to collaborate across boundaries, develop and transfer strategies throughout global organizations and cope with volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous economic conditions. Corporate clients increasingly expect business school offerings to focus on organizational performance as well as individual improvement, and they increasingly expect business schools to understand and align with their challenges and goals.

Custom programs are sold opportunistically through ever-lengthening sales cycles, and they are delivered according to client calendars that do not conform to the university’s academic or fiscal year. Open enrollment programs are offered more seasonally, and they are many and of short duration. Therefore, the portfolio’s annual performance is never assured until after all programs have been marketed, filled, and launched. This can be frustrating for business school and university central administrators because planning for executive education is necessarily short-term and volatile, rather than annual and manageable as is more typical with degree programs. The programs are shaped by the customer’s needs: what to teach, to whom, when and where.  This creates a challenge to secure the right faculty mix. Some universities have reacted by using more adjuncts, although this can dilute the positive impact of executive education on faculty development and institutional reputation. At the same time, other schools prefer to augment their faculty expertise with qualified and capable adjuncts who possess the interest and consultative skills needed to develop and deliver effective custom programs. For them, skilled adjuncts contribute to the school’s reputation through expanded programming and quality client experiences. Custom programs are also difficult to manage because professional buyers (i.e. CLOs) are becoming more astute, demanding customers. Serving them well requires more investment in customer (corporate) insight and program development (content and teaching methods, outcome measurement, and innovation). 

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'Nov. 20, 2018' with cover story titled 'BW Education Issue Nov-Dec 2018'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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