CSOM adapts as recession hits exec. education

Time and money are two things that businesses could always use more of in a recession. And without these two essentials, executive education programs like the Carlson School of ManagementâÄôs are losing their clientele. Custom-made programs, specially geared to solve problems and ease mergers within large companies, suffer as corporations impose traveling bans, stopping mid-level managers from flying to conferences and education programs. Gordon Armstrong, spokesman for North Carolina-based Duke Corporate Education said that although his company still maintains large clients worldwide, several transnational clients have slowed or put their programs on hold as they weather the recession. âÄúDoes the recession hurt us? Yeah,âÄù he said bluntly, with a chuckle. Time is becoming increasingly important to businesses as layoffs put more responsibility on remaining employees, forcing management to spend less time in learning and development programs, said Mark Kizilos, assistant dean of the CSOMâÄôs Executive Education program. Within these two different spectrums of executive education, some universities are deciding to change, trying to adapt to new business needs and offset losses in other programs more susceptible to the recession, said Bill Scheurer , executive director of the International University Consortium of Executive Education. Others, unable to envision a solution, are sticking to their current programs. Scheurer said executive education programs at universities around the globe have âÄúslowed down considerablyâÄù during this sudden recession, which has been difficult to adapt to. âÄúWe ran an industry survey in early October where the outlook was pretty good, pretty rosy,âÄù Scheurer said. âÄúBy December it had changed. The survey was obsolete before it was published.âÄù

CSOMâÄôs response: shorter, cheaper

In July, CSOM will provide 20 new half-day and day-long âÄútargeted offeringsâÄù for the first time, aimed at the clients who canâÄôt get out of the office for several days or foot the bill for larger programs. These programs arenâÄôt a shift in focus, Kizilos said, but they are a unique supplement, largely different from previous offerings. Previous CSOM open enrollment offerings ranged from two to four days each, taking employees out of their offices and sometimes putting them in overnight lodgings on the companyâÄôs dime. The new, shorter offerings will focus on varying topics, from personal time management to generating financial and organic growth, including many of the things that have been popular in larger CSOM sessions, Kizilos said. Less theoretical than the larger programs, these offerings aim to provide people with skills they can use the next day. Shorter open-enrollment programs have proven very successful for other universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, which has run a similar program for four years. The Olin Business School, part of Washington University, St. Louis, grew its one-day open-enrollment programs from zero clients to 35 in that time period, Kenneth Bardach, associate dean , said. Bardach attributes the growth to providing programs on the cheap âÄî for $695 per seat, while most similar offerings cost $1,500 to $1,800. âÄúWhat they want is what everybody wants,âÄù he said. âÄúThey want it cheaper, faster and better.âÄù

Searching for answers in custom enrollment

Despite the success of Washington UniversityâÄôs short open-enrollment programs, the schoolâÄôs total revenue is down 15 to 20 percent because the custom enrollment programs continue to suffer, Bardach said. CSOMâÄôs custom programs, such as those provided for larger corporations like Target, havenâÄôt changed, Kizilos said, but could possibly go down in the future. The University of Wisconsin-MadisonâÄôs business school is experiencing the same trend: Custom program clients stay loyal, but change the amount of programming on a quarterly basis, Tammy Thayer-Ali, the president of the Center for Advanced Studies in Business, said. Thayer-Ali said the centerâÄôs programs will remain relatively the same because custom executive education programs were booming before the recession and will continue to grow afterward. Kizilos said CSOM will act likewise and will ride out the recession. But even if universities wanted to change their programs, DukeâÄôs Armstrong said custom programs donâÄôt generally adapt in times of recession. Armstrong said several of DukeâÄôs larger clients, especially banks and companies involved in commodities, are curtailing their programs and alterations to custom programs wouldnâÄôt necessarily help. While some custom programs include classes that deal with crisis management and leadership in a downturn, most custom programs deal with âÄúbroader issues,âÄù Armstrong said. Scheurer, dean of CSOMâÄôs Executive Education for 20 years before taking his position at the International University Consortium of Executive Education, said he has seen several unique programs dealing with recessions, including a panel he created to address the businessâÄôs responsibility to community after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Still, he said, executive education will be âÄúa leader going in and a lagger coming out of a recession,âÄù and will struggle while companies struggle. But Thayer-Ali, like many schoolsâÄô executive education heads, remains positive despite reduced business. âÄúThis is a strong industry, especially in the custom area,âÄù she said. âÄúI do think it will rebound and get even stronger.âÄù