Applying What You Learn In Real-Time

We’ve always taken great pride in providing solutions to business challenges that working professionals face, and giving them tools they can apply right away.  One of our recent participants may have set a new standard, however, by applying what he learned in real time.

Russ Bernthal, President of ProfitStars (a Jack Henry Company) didn’t plan to be right in the middle of a critical divestiture opportunity while attending a recent offering of Texas Executive Education’s Advocacy, Influence and Power class, but that’s where he found himself a few months ago.  Russ recounts: 

“The Advocacy class went well beyond my wildest expectations on how powerful and meaningful it was to me both professionally and personally.  During that week, I was building a strategy for a potential divestiture.  What was so remarkable was that the class gave me immediate insights into how to build support for the idea not only within my own company but also within the prospective acquiring firm.  Without revealing confidential identifying information, I was able to sit down with Professors John Daly and Gaylen Paulson and discuss what I was working on -- asking questions, determining how to bring up certain points, gaining more support, and adjusting my strategy.  The real-time advice from the faculty during that week allowed me to put the things I was learning into practice literally in the moment, and it made an enormous difference in how things worked out.”

While not all our participants find themselves in the position of being involved in complex business negotiations for their company while they are also attending class, everyone does have the same access to our tremendous faculty.  Whether you are here for a two-day Open Enrollment class or a months-long Custom Program, all of our world-class professors are available to you just like they were for Russ.  And, at Texas Executive Education, our faculty members aren’t just academics – they are also practitioners of their craft.  Russ explains:

“I had previously taken the Leading High Performance Teams class with John Daly, and wanted to take another class with him based on recommendations from others from my company who had taken the Advocacy class.  John’s practical, real-world experiences -- coupled with his cutting-edge academic research and knowledge -- is what made this experience so valuable, and immediately applicable.  The accessibility of the professors – the ability to sit down, have lunch with them, and talk about their real world experiences to get their opinions on business issues I was facing that day - created tremendous value for me.”
Russ Bernthal

Regardless of functional area or academic subject, Texas Executive Education’s “professor-practitioners” bring their real-world experiences to bear on your business challenges in the same way their research pushes business learning to new heights each day.  Our professors don’t just teach CEOs, VPs, Directors, and other corporate leaders – they actually have been (and in some cases, still are) CEOs, VPs, Directors, and business leaders.

Russ shared with us another example of a recent experience he had as a participant in the Leading High Performance Teams class:

“I’ll never forget the first exercise we did – a scenario that required a group of us to work together as a result of a catastrophic incident.  Unfortunately, my classmates and I didn’t take the time during the beginning of that exercise to ask each other about our experiences, and it showed in our results.  This really drilled into me the idea that everyone brings something to the table, and if you jump into a problem and try to create a solution without fully understanding who your teammates are beyond their current titles, you are making a mistake.  As a result of this lesson learned, I now take time at the beginning of any new initiative to understand the backgrounds and experiences of everybody in the room so that I can apply those strengths – and more importantly, the team gets to apply their experiences -- towards solving the problem.  By doing this, it really empowers my team, and showcases their skills and credibility.  By encouraging me to think outside of my comfort zone, and break down the paradigms of how I look at things, I’ve learned to create a better environment that brings out the best in each individual.”

By challenging participants, Texas Executive Education professors force students to examine how they may have done things in the past and really get them thinking about change.  Russ also had a story for us that illustrates this point:

“I was attending the Strategic Management class, and professor Rob Adams started the session by asking how many of us had done SWOT analyses.  Most of us in the room answered that we had -- I’d been doing them for over 10 years at Jack Henry – but Rob surprised us by saying that we had been doing them wrong.  I was initially offended, and it set me on edge, but once he got into the discussion I realized that we had actually been doing them wrong.  I brought back the new SWOT methodologies to my company, and we are now much more effective in our strategic assessments.”

Professors Rob Adams and Steve Courter -- both of whom have been CEOs – bring a blend of real-world experience and academic rigor to every session of Strategic Management.  Russ puts it best:  “I can’t stress enough the importance of learning from professors with actual real-world experience.  Anyone can pick up a textbook and read, but it is the blend of academia and real world experience that makes Texas Executive Education uniquely valuable.”

If you would like to learn more about what Texas Executive Education can do for you or your organization, please give us a call at (512) 471 – 5893 or send us an email at execed@mccombs.utexas.edu. We’d love to help you or your team.