As learning leaders, our own executive education is critical to our success as we develop our leadership skills. Throughout my career, I have found the best executive education programs were those that helped me to learn more about the business of my company’s business industry.

For example, while with Booz Allen, I attended the Harvard Business School’s, Leading Professional Services Firmsprogram. The one-week program provided an outstanding immersion into the world of professional services; the content hit the mark on exactly what I needed to be a better leader for Booz Allen. I learned about different types of services firms from the other participants who were from around the world. I also learned market and marketing strategies, compensation strategies and the latest thinking on how to develop a successful and profitable firm in one of the most competitive industries that exists.

So, if you are thinking about participating in an executive education program, my recommendation is to make your first program one that helps you understand the business of the business your organization is in.

The Chief Learning Officer Accelerator is an excellent way to expand your knowledge of what it takes to run the business of learning. The program, which is conducted just prior to the CLO Symposium, is facilitated by chief learning officers who have been in the trenches — including me, although I will be missing the spring program. The program is perfect for those who aspire to be CLOs or those who have just moved into the role, especially if you are a business leader who is new to learning. 

If you are looking for a longer program, George Mason University offers an Executive Chief Learning Officer Graduate Certificate. According to the website, “drawing on the expertise of world-class faculty from the School of Business and the Learning Technologies Division of the College of Education and Human Development, this six-month program is grounded in cutting-edge research and proven practices from industry thought leaders with a solid track record linking learning and development to business goals.”

If your goal is to obtain a degree specific to becoming a chief learning officer, then check out the Executive Doctoral Program at the University of Pennsylvania. The program has been around since 2009, and I know several people who have been through it and rave about its value. According to their website, “This executive doctoral program is designed to prepare the chief learning officer and other senior-level executives for success as learning and talent development leaders. The program provides a rigorous academic environment where members build the skills necessary to ensure successful learning initiatives that will align with the organization’s strategy.”

Perhaps you have already done both, or you have a more pressing or specific need. Whatever your development concerns are, executive education programs offer a variety of business acumen programs — such as finance, marketing and strategic planning — that can assist you in becoming a better business leader. I especially recommend a marketing course; I’ve attended several. As a learning leader, the ongoing dilemma still exits, “If you build it, will they come?” The only way this happens is by creating a strategic marketing plan that is deployed in concert with learning implementation.

What executive education programs have you found useful? Share them here or email me, and I will be sure to let everyone know.


Editor's note: The blog incorrectly identified the University of Pennsylvania's executive doctoral program. 


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