2013 Excellence in Academic Partnerships

GOLD: Rutgers University School of Business, Camden Executive Education

Since its inception in the 1800s, most of supply chain management company Graybar’s leaders have been promoted from within — a reflection of the belief that those who know the business best are well-suited to lead it.

As such, employee retention has been one of Graybar’s strengths. However, as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement, replacing their extensive knowledge and experience has become increasingly difficult. Not only is the size of the available talent pool smaller, but also workforce expectations are different.

Graybar’s management team had a critical need for leadership development in 2001. At the time, the company offered basic management training programs, but nothing for higher-level managers. With Rutgers, Graybar created a program featuring online courses, textbooks, traditional classroom instruction, podcasts, case studies and a capstone project, the Rutgers-Graybar Supply Chain Management, or SCM, program.

Since 2005, the SCM program has kept pace with advances in technology, the distribution industry and shifting adult learning styles. The following program enhancements have been made:

• Self-paced, online courses were replaced with action learning assignments.

• Three onsite sessions throughout the program enable presentations from Graybar senior leaders, functional experts and industry leaders.

• Academic textbooks were replaced with business-specific resources.

The Rutgers-Graybar SCM Program is serving its fifth cohort, providing Graybar’s future leaders with broad business knowledge, critical thinking skills and the ability to adapt quickly.

Of the 79 SCM program alumni, 28 have been promoted. Eleven of those have advanced to vice president and senior vice president roles, and nearly 90 percent of program alumni remain in the organization.

SILVER: University of Phoenix

Best Western learning leaders needed to provide access to higher education for their members without disrupting their ability to operate its hotels.

After partnering with University of Phoenix Workforce Solutions, all existing and new Best Western students became eligible to receive a 10 percent tuition reduction on University of Phoenix courses.

Best Western members had access to a customized landing page for detailed partnership information, including scholarship and grant opportunities, industry articles and University of Phoenix degree programs and certificates. University of Phoenix also created a customized credit recommendation guide that allowed Best Western members to view Best Western training and find out if what they have taken can be applied toward college-level credit.

Since launching the partnership in August 2011, University of Phoenix has seen a 296 percent increase in new Best Western students, as of May 2013.