If you’re looking for an elite executive education experience on the West Coast, you should start the search at UC Berkeley. The school’s Center for Executive Education offers the most extensive menu of top quality courses, far more than you’ll find at Stanford, UCLA or any other business school west of Chicago.
Today the Center for Executive Education is a $13.5-million organization, up from revenue of some $2 million seven years ago. The plan is to ultimately grow it to $50 million. “Each school may have a choice about how much growth they want or not and why they exist. We focus on a few things. We are trying to institution-build so we are trying to grow our revenue,” says Whitney Hischier, assistant dean for Executive Education at Haas. Today CEE has become a critical part of the business school as its profits go back to Haas. It runs nearly 140 programs a year and 5,000 executives participate in these programs.
Equipping Techies with Leadership Skills
“Our sweet spot tends to be providing management and leadership training for engineering and science-based companies,” says Hischier. That focus fits in well with the Bay Area. A lot of people in the Bay Area, like engineers and scientists, rise up the hierarchy on the technical side and suddenly they need to manage a team but don’t have managerial or leadership skills. “This was such a weak spot – take someone who intentionally wanted to work in front of a computer or in a lab by themselves and suddenly they have got a coach and get feedback, and manage a P&L. It can be painful and often a career-ending move for many,” says Hischier. Such people are often unable to enrol for a full degree course due to lack of time and also risk aversion given the economic situation. Keeping in mind such needs, a couple of years ago CEE launched a New Manager Boot Camp which is designed to give participants a headstart into managerial roles.
The New Manager Boot Camp is really meant for first-time managers. “But we found that it attracts people who have been managers for 20 years despite the name! It is stuff that’s often not even taught in an MBA, or the kind of things that you never really paid attention to and it becomes relevant later in your career,” says Hischier. That’s why CEE is now building a more advanced manager’s boot camp which addresses the needs of the more experienced audience. “We are just trying to figure out what’s the next level. There is also the subtle distinction between management and leadership,” says Hischier.
A lot of CEE’s programs pull in strands from across the university. “Our faculty co-teach and integrate their research with other parts of campus like psychology and engineering. We do that for clients too,” says Hischier. “We leverage Berkeley around the desire of clients to learn not just about business.” Recently, CEE ran a program for Dow on sustainable chemical intensive supply chains. For this they collaborated with the College of Chemistry. The program was co-taught by chemistry and business faculty with public health engineering.
Heavy Emphasis on Custom Programs
Interestingly, nearly 70% of CEE’s business comprises of custom programs tailored for specific clients. “We have been able to build on existing custom clients so it’s just an organic growth pattern,” says Hischier. She says that open enrolment, on the other hand, is like a marketing machine as it is all about filling programs. Unlike Haas, a lot of schools tend to lean more towards open enrolment programs because they say that custom programs are too resource-intensive. Hischier disagrees. “I often think that over 85% of our internal resources are spent on that 30% (the open enrolment programs) just in terms of the transactional handling to register folks and marketing, etc. For us, I actually feel that custom is less resource heavy and our faculty like it,” she says, adding that there is a side of open enrolment programs where faculty develop something and they can just iterate over and over. Some people like it that way but those at Haas prefer custom and the client relationships there.
On the custom side, CEE does a lot of work with global clients in Norway, Panama and Asia and sometimes delivers modules on-site as well. For instance, in the case of Norway’s Statoil the program has four modules a year. The executives travel to Berkeley for two of them. The third one is held in Norway. And the fourth one is held in a place where they a joint venture and this year, that would be in Angola. Previously, this module has been held in Rio de Janeiro and Moscow.