Thursday, May 12, 2016
Launching a New Executive Education Program
Earlier this year I accepted the challenge of creating an executive education program at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Up until this point, Bauer had no formal strategy for executive education. It did, however, have an outstanding faculty and was engaged with a number of high profile companies in developing custom curricula for developing managers and executives.
My job would be to continue with the custom programs already in place and to add classes that could be used by individuals or companies that had a need for only one or two classes. This would require engaging the faculty and community experts in developing classes for the program, creating a format to for communicating the class topics and qualifications of the faculty and designing a website that would be user friendly. That’s just the beginning.
The next steps include developing a winning marketing campaign and developing enough demand to fill the classes at a rate that covers the cost of the program.
Pricing would be a key factor. Fortunately, there were many universities with executive education programs and studying the existing pricing structures was very helpful. In the end I looked at several public and private Universities and chose a pricing model that would put our program in the middle of the pack.
Product was key. Our classes had to be developed by the best faculty and cover the topics most in demand. Fortunately the Bauer College of Business is highly ranked, has outstanding faculty and has been creating classes for Fortune 50 companies. Restructuring the custom classes for “open enrollment” classes that are available to anyone was easily accomplished.
Additionally, Bauer was nationally recognized for several of its programs, most notably entrepreneurship, sales, accounting, finance and management. Restructuring some of these courses into not to three day workshops would be a challenge. The faculty responded enthusiastically and created a wide variety of “open enrollment” classes.
Finally, there were some topics that might be in demand that would require experts from the business community. Being located in Houston, one of the most diverse economies in the country provided another benefit. We had access to financial, health care, energy, retail, and manufacturing experts just to name a few. Our cybersecurity class will be taught by the chief technologist for platform security and privacy for HP. Our consulting classes will be taught by a former Accenture partner who now has a successful private practice.
Having the classes in a comfortable environment with the latest technology is important. Fortunately, Bauer has state-of-the-art facilities. On the downside there is a lot of demand for the classroom facilities. So in addition to having the availability of campus facilities we formed relationships with other organizations that allow us too use their facilities. In our custom course classes we use on-line webinars to allow an organization’s employees to remain in their offices while learning.
Getting the word out for a new program is always challenging. We are using some newspaper advertising but are focusing on Email to alums, social media, attending conferences and conventions and speaking to chambers of commerce and professional organizations.
While it is very early in the program, I think we are on the right track. Our website is: http://www.bauer.uh.edu/executive-education/index.php.
I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on how to improve the success of this new program.