Michigan Ross Adds 4 Exec Ed Courses


The smorgasbord of open-enrollment executive education courses offered by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business just grew a bit larger. Beginning this fall, mid- to senior-level executives from across the globe may choose from four new offerings announced by the school today (August 17). The four new options — which bring the total open-enrollment offerings at Ross to 15 — focus broadly on scaling businesses in emerging markets, strategic digital marketing, business-driven problem solving, and “customer-centric innovation” to solve today’s business challenges.

In a prepared release, the school says the course Strategic Growth from the Base of the Pyramid will be the first executive education course focused on the Base of the Pyramid, a concept “pioneered by the late Ross professor, C.K. Prahalad.” Courses will include five days of residential participation, at either the school’s Ann Arbor or Hong Kong campuses, beginning October 3.

According to Michigan Ross’ Chief Executive Education Officer Melanie Weaver Barnett, the decision to add these four specific topic areas stems from the “intersection” of marketplace research and faculty research and expertise. Ross partnered with an outside source for a market-research project to learn what executives and managers across the globe are looking for, Barnett says, and the data backed what she has been hearing anecdotally.

“We’re hearing things like, ‘I need to develop our next generation of leaders and I need them to be effective decision makers and deal with ambiguity,'” Barnett tells Poets&Quants. “We often hear, ‘We need to be more innovative, and we need to be more innovative across boundaries and the typical organizational silos. We need to grow and we’re moving into emerging economies.'”

Melanie Weaver Barnett. Courtesy Ross School of Business

Melanie Weaver Barnett. Courtesy Ross School of Business


The new courses are Strategic Growth from the Base of the Pyramid, Strategic Marketing for the Digital Age, Creating Impact Through Innovation: How to Design Winning Solutions for Business Challenges, and the Enterprise Executive Program. “Those were all things we were hearing from our customer base, and we thought we’d capitalize on those needs,” Barnett says.

Total costs for the courses range from $8,200 for the Base of the Pyramid course to $10,500 for the Executive Education Program. Barnett says the cost will cover almost everything besides a few meals, and the courses will often stretch longer through “follow-on” learning activities. Interested students will get what they pay for through very focused areas of learning from an elite executive education program as well as a new global network, she says.

“You get this network of colleagues that you emerge with, and people do stay connected and use that network as a great resource going forward,” Barnett says. Participant mix is one of the most important aspects of the learning experience, she adds, and so Ross officials will keep that in mind while organizing the courses. The school will be going for diversity in terms of where the participants work, personal and professional backgrounds, and the geographies they come from, Barnett says.


Barnett says students should also expect to come ready to participate, as open-enrollment courses tend to have an experiential learning rate of 50% to 80% — a result of the school’s research in organizational leadership as well as personal development of leadership talent.

“When we create these programs, we incorporate those key elements into the learning experience. You’re not going to be sitting in classes listening to a whole bunch of lectures,” says Barnett, before ticking off the types of immersive activities. “There is a lot of immersion through simulations, cases, mini-cases, and other interactive activities that leads to discovery learning — lots of action learning in our program.”

According to Ross, more than 4,000 executives from around the world participate in open-enrollment courses and custom programs annually. Courses are often offered at least twice a year and typically are given a two- to three-year window before they are evaluated for continuation and potential changes. By completing four of the open-enrollment programs, managers and executives may earn Michigan Ross Distinguished Leader status and officially be alums of the Ross executive education program.

No matter what, Barnett says, participants leave with intention. “People will leave each of these programs with a plan and strategy for using what they learned,” she says.


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