Curriculum set for industry program at Penn

Home Inside FCNews Curriculum set for industry program at Penn

Inst. for Leadership and Business Growth launched

by Matthew Spieler

Hicksville, N.Y.—Two months after forming the Partnership for Executive Development and Business Growth, a collaboration between four industry associations and the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences, including the famous Wharton School (FCNews, July 16/23), the curriculum and dates for the customized education program have been set.

Called The Institute for Leadership and Business Growth, the program is an extensive four-month business course that incorporates both traditional classroom work on the Penn campus with online training and is available exclusively to members of the Association of Rug Care Specialists (ARCS), National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) and the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Participants must be business owners, senior managers or managers being groomed to lead a business in some capacity.

Representatives from the four organizations have been in discussions with university officials and professors designing a course that will enable participants to study the essentials of business management and develop new skills and strategies to grow their businesses. Part of that includes having professors from Penn’s Wharton School, widely recognized as one of the world’s leading business schools, as part of the faculty as well as teachers from the university’s School of Arts and Sciences’ Organizational Dynamics Program, among other Penn faculty and practitioners.

“Leaders of the four trade associations and the Penn faculty and staff have invested a great deal of time and effort in ensuring that the courses offered provide value and an excellent return on investment,” said Rick Holden, NWFA’s chairman.

The Institute for Leadership and Business Growth will begin with a dinner on the Penn campus Jan. 13. “This will be an opportunity for participants to network among themselves, meet and share background on their individual businesses with the faculty who will be instructing them, and define specific, business-related team projects in which they will be involved,” a spokesman for the program told FCNews.

Over the next three days, participants will reside on the Penn campus taking courses on such topics as family business issues, customer-centric innovation and negotiations.

Then, during the next three months, they will engage in online learning through real-time classroom lectures, discussions with faculty and peers and storage of all course work. Participants will be required to spend at least three hours per week taking advantage of learning opportunities on various subjects including theory and practice of financial management; entrepreneurial marketing; communications and branding; operations management, and human resource management—recruitment and retention strategies.

Then it will be back to the Penn campus in April for two final days of focused, in-classroom learning. Course topics during this period will be on leadership and organizational culture, leadership development, leading organizational change, and succession planning as a leadership tool.

During the final day, participants will present the findings and results of their team projects, which will be followed by a celebratory dinner and the handing out of certificates from the University of Pennsylvania to those who have successfully completed the coursework.

In addition, participants will be able to use the course as part of their continuing education credits. If they so desire, parameters of the course will be defined in order for them to receive appropriate continuing education units.

“This will be unlike anything ever offered by the industry—flooring or otherwise,” the spokesman told FCNews. “This is the real deal with an impressive roster of professors.”

This includes the online portion, he added, saying it will be completely interactive, not a static course in which a participant can pop in and out whenever it is convenient. “This is a true four-month course, not just a couple of days. The university is really putting its best foot forward on this program.”

As such, the representatives agreed there would be no online learning during the week of Surfaces as most dealers need that week to be at the industry trade show in Las Vegas, meaning they would not be able to devote the necessary time online during this period. “They spent a great deal of time discussing this,” the spokesman said, “because they recognize there is a lot of time spent traveling and so on, and with the required workload it wouldn’t be good for anyone involved to have this extra burden on them. Even though it is an intensive course, they did want it to be user friendly.”

The Institute for Leadership and Business Growth is open to the first 40 people who register, though if more people are interested the university will consider doing it again. Enrollment for the course began Sept. 20 at regonline.com/pennleadershipandbusinessgrowth.

Because this is such an intensive course, tuition has been set at $7,800 per participant. A $2,000 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of enrollment.

Since this is considered a WFCA program, it qualifies for 100% of its scholarship funds, meaning members of the association can receive the full $500 in educational assistance.

While the cost may seem steep, the spokesman said it was something the associations “kicked around and debated quite a bit. They looked at courses offered by other associations and this is in the ballpark but, mainly, the return on investment is something everyone feels will be exceptional and well worth the price.”

To learn more, contact the university’s Rita McGlone at mcgloner@sas.upenn.edu.

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