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DCE Magazine

Taking Care of Business

Fall 2019

UCI Corporate Education and Global Partnerships offers an expanded range of options for educating the workforce of tomorrow.

When today's international corporations need workforce training, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't cut it. Every company is different, and each requires specialized programs to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of the marketplace. That's where UCI's Corporate Education and Global Partnerships (CEGP) team comes in, offering a wide range of custom-crafted solutions.

Far from its humble beginnings in the early ‘60s, the newly rebranded department has evolved into a global endeavor that works directly with clients to develop targeted programs as well as long-term partnerships, said Brian Breen, director of the unit.

“We've evolved over the past five to 10 years into more of a corporate education concierge,” Breen said. “Companies come to us with specific needs and our team develops customized training programs that address targeted employee deficiencies. It's part of our evolution, from offering simple training classes to developing long-term strategic partnerships.”

Corporate clients can request bespoke solutions and Breen's team of expert UCI instructors and instructional designers make it happen. It's an approach that has attracted a number of high-profile clients such as IBM, Boeing, Marriott and Volkswagen Mexico, as well as various municipalities including Irvine.

“We consult with the client, target exactly what needs to be addressed, and if necessary we can even build an entirely new program from the ground up,” Breen said.

The CEGP team can create web portals that allow employees to access corporate university curriculum from anywhere in the world. On-campus programs offer short courses and workshops aimed at the busy professional. And interactive, role-playing simulations like the Executive Challenge allow top-level personnel to compete and hone their skills.

It's all about providing the most advanced solutions for professional growth, human resources services and support, while raising awareness in the corporate community of the many benefits available within UCI.

“The partnership is mutually beneficial,” Breen said. “Our strategic partnerships allow us to recruit expert advisory board members for our certificate courses, and our corporate partners can recruit top employees from the programs and offer internship programs.”

“[O]ur team develops customized training programs that address targeted employee deficiencies.” Brian Breen

A custom fit

The department, part of UCI Division of Continuing Education, has definitely “morphed quite a bit” in the past several years, said CEGP marketing lead Lindsay Doherty. Along with expanded global services, “impactful training solutions, convenience and innovation are increasingly important aspects.”

There are Lunch-N-Learn workshops that allow employees to access new skills in their downtime, and the HR Talks series has featured keynote speakers and panels, as well as an executive roundtable.

One of the most popular new programs is the Learning Consortium, a series of short courses that address diverse skills like business writing, accounting, and project management over a period of one to three days. The Consortium offers myriad benefits to employees and employers alike, often opening the door to continuing UCI education.

“They're short, immersive learning experiences that focus on specific topics,” Doherty said. “In one day, you can learn to be a better communicator, a better leader, be more effective with your time, and more. Learning Consortium courses were built with the busy professional in mind, and participants walk away with new, practical tools they can bring to the workplace immediately.”

Many of UCI's partner clients send small groups to attend together, providing a team-oriented experience without the high costs of traditional training programs. It's a good way for participants to meet professionals from other industries and share ideas they can apply to their own organizations, Doherty said.

“Our employees’ experience with the consortium has had a very positive impact,” said Susan Cole, Manager of Edwards University for Edwards Lifesciences, a leading supplier of heart valve technology. “It's a great way for employees with limited time to take one day, maybe two days, to learn practical knowledge that's relevant to what they're doing.”

“Consortium courses were built with the busy professional in mind, and participants walk away with new, practical tools they can bring to the workplace immediately.” Lindsay Doherty

Going global

UCI CEGP offers a wide range of delivery options, a mix of onsite and online programs including fully synchronous courses that create sort of a live, interactive online classroom. They're especially advantageous and popular with companies that have far-flung global workforces.

The online lessons are intensive, and the instructors directly engage the employees, asking questions, encouraging participation and making sure nobody's checking their email during class, Doherty said.

“Five or 10 years ago, many of our clients wouldn't touch online education. But now it offers so many benefits,” she added. “Fully synchronous classes bring students and instructors together to engage in real time. And corporations don't have to pay a lot of money to travel all over the world to train employees.”

Interactive role-playing simulations are a new, innovative form of corporate training, allowing clients to deal with real-world workplace scenarios in a virtual way. A good example is the Executive Challenge, a competition that pits teams of high-level professionals against each other.

“The Executive Challenge is a one-day competition where participants play the role of the CEO, CFO, chief marketing officers and other company executives,” Doherty said. “The goal is to bring a specific product to market, and the teams have to make a series of decisions on allocating resources, managing finances and marketing budgets, and other factors.”

Teams need to think on the fly. Each decision impacts the next, like in real business situations. And at the end of the day, whichever team sold the most and maximized their financial resources is declared the winner.

It's all part of the new wave of innovative solutions offered by UCI CEGP, an entirely new approach to developing ongoing, strategic partnerships between the university and the business world.

“There are other universities that offer corporate training, but they don't have the type of dedicated team we have in place to develop customized curriculum with so many delivery options,” Breen said. “I think that's what sets UCI apart from the pack and makes us unique.”

Learn more at ce.uci.edu/corporate