By Kim Lee
Throughout the business landscape, companies face issues that threaten productivity and success, some in the form of finding and retaining good employees, some in the form of educating their staffs. Some businesses just want to take their successes further.
With its abundant resources of talent and acumen, the Beacom School of Business is well-equipped to outreach and deliver a product that meets those needs. Beacom, as a unit of the region’s flagship university and an internationally-accredited business school, has stepped up to become a leader in educating business professionals. The executive program initiative aims to provide training opportunities to working
professionals and senior executives in order to make businesses achieve higher productivity and enhance their competitiveness. Beacom strives to leave management teams informed, inspired and excited about bringing knowledge and practices back to their companies.
“With the region’s economy, there are not enough people in the workforce,” explained Linda Halliburton, director of graduate business and executive education programs at USD. We have a mission for outreach and to foster the economic engine of the region. Providing professional development and education for these companies helps accomplish those goals.”
By the end of 2017, Beacom had offered three courses with 15 different organizations represented. In spring 2018, Beacom offered Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence, Negotiating for Added Value, and Profitable Process Improvement. Eventually, the course selection will increase, but the course size won’t–it is limited to 30 students per class. All courses are taught by Beacom’s faculty members.
Although relatively new, there’s already been a diverse interest in the executive education programs. Last fall’s sessions attracted managers and those preparing for management roles in manufacturing and distribution, government, marketing, health care and professional services.
The diversity would make it apparent that there is a need for this type of training, said Halliburton. “This proves that professional development is important no matter the industry being served,” she said. “Participants value faculty expertise, response to questions and use of examples. They also appreciate the opportunity to try out new concepts and skills, and leaving with an action plan for how they will take what they learned back to their organization.”
Organizations today need to be learning organizations in order to thrive, Halliburton emphasized. “Stepping away from the workplace and engaging with different people who are focused on learning is a critical success factor,” she said. “Through the offerings of the Beacom School of Business, our region can continue to achieve higher productivity and enhance its competitiveness. And for organizations that have a specific learning goal, we can come onsite and work with them to develop a learning solution that targets their objectives.
“We have great faculty expertise,” she continued. “Extending that beyond our traditional course delivery can only expand Beacom’s footprint and augment the resources of the university.”
Meta Financial is one company that enlisted the help of Beacom’s executive education training, in need of help in developing financial acumen for its non-finance employees. As an employee-owned company, Meta’s leaders needed to be able to comprehend financial statements on a day-to-day basis and the implications of them on business. They approached Beacom, asking if they could help develop a program that will accomplish those objectives.
According to course evaluations and feedback, the faculty’s expertise is highly valued by attendees. “Based on this feedback of success, we know that our faculty are highly relevant and can connect theory to practical applications and are hitting the mark in terms of what business communication says they need,” Halliburton said.
Another advantage of Beacom’s executive education is that it is not location - or calendar bound - with its offerings. “We can conduct these classes to the University Center in Sioux Falls, a public venue or at the company itself,” she continued. “We can travel when and where clients want us. We are not tied to any kind of academic schedule.”
Raven Industries, headquartered in South Dakota, is a technology company that creates innovative solutions to great challenges. After a recent acquisition of new business units and more people, Raven’s leadership sought further training from Beacom, feeling it would benefit their company to have a cohort attend a team-building course offered by Beacom. Raven’s goals were discussed and portions of the program were revised, making it simpler to incorporate examples specific to their business.
In a clime where higher education can be accused of not being responsive, Beacom embraces custom programming. No two courses are alike–they all have something specific to offer. “We tell clients, ‘This is the framework we normally deliver. Does it meet your needs?’” Halliburton explained. “If not, we tweak the content to ensure their objectives are being accomplished. We make it relevant for each organization.”
“Oftentimes, when professionals think of training and development, they are left to their own devices. We want them to think ‘Beacom School of Business.’”