Learning in Practice 2015: Excellence in Academic Partnerships


Penn State Smeal College of Business

A partnership between Saudi Basic Industries Corp., or SABIC, and Penn State Executive Programs of the Smeal College of Business developed learning programs for the SABIC supply chain to accelerate career development, and identify opportunities to substantially reduce working capital.
To accelerate recruitment, development and promotion for the best-performing supply chain workers at each level of business, the partnership built a platform for education services, which would address needs for new hires, customers and others. The new learning program combined face-to-face, applied and coaching development approaches.
For example, in three two-day courses, supply chain management programs introduce employees to bottom-line impact of supply chain performance in terms of customer satisfaction, cost, capital and growth. Staff was positioned as coaches rather than instructors to keep the focus on team members and foster a feeling of play and experimentation. Every aspect was designed to maximize participation.
Selected high performers could enroll in an online professional masters program, which Smeal College of Business has planned for fall 2016.
There were some challenges. For instance, SABIC operates in more than 40 countries, and launching the initiative revealed decentralized metrics that made it difficult for managers to track progress against business strategy.
But the program met short-term goals by solving immediate problems around excessive cycle times in product delivery. The project also solidified the value of the ultimate long-term goal to build independent capacities for cross-functional teamwork to address complex limitations in the supply chain.


Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago

With the rapidly changing landscape in medical care, today’s physicians have to be caregivers as well as business people. To transform physicians at DuPage Medical Group into strategy-focused business leaders, the organization partnered with Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business.
Quinlan created tailored learning sessions that integrated physician knowledge with business school skills in a curriculum made of three pillars: leadership development, executive business skills for health care administrators and personal development.
In this six-month DMG Lead Academy, three-hour evening sessions were held every other week to accommodate doctor schedules. Interactive lectures, simulations and group work led to increased understanding of leadership responsibilities.
Participants chose from class projects including: Defining Access Standards, Effective Physician Integration, and Staffing Models for Primary Care. Senior sponsors led the different projects and assisted in project development, and a senior board-level physician was assigned to each team as a mentor.
The program resulted in an average satisfaction score of 4.83 out of 5.

Bronze (tie)

SMU Cox School of Business

Dallas Area Rapid Transport, or DART, partnered with SMU Cox School of Business to improve DART’s effectiveness and management. Executives and faculty from both organizations taught on-campus class sessions including lectures, discussions, assessments simulations and mentorships. Succession planning has since been implemented, and the program has entered its second year.

Bronze (tie)

Bellevue University

First Data partnered with Bellevue University to create its Contact Center Management and Leadership to help employees with client transaction processing. Bellevue created the 12-course online learning program, which ultimately leads to a bachelor’s degree. At the time of nomination, about 36 First Data employees were enrolled.