Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

June 11, 2009

Guru Mantra: Dr. Kathleen Ponder, Director, Duke CE


Dr. Kathleen Ponder
Global Director of Learning Methods
Duke Corporate Education

For the past three years Dr. Kathleen Mary Ponder has held the position of Global Director of Learning Methods at Duke Corporate Education. Responsible for designing and delivering Duke CE’s innovative, break-through approaches to executive education around the world, she has designed and delivered programs for multinational corporations in India, Asia, Europe, and the U.S. Using a business challenge as their focus, her team creates solutions embracing and leveraging the cognitive, affective and, at times, spiritual and physical capacities of executives. Their success stems from using not only academic specialists but non-traditional educational providers such as orchestra conductors, firefighters, athletes, and medical doctors to bring business lessons alive.

Prior to assuming her current role, Kathleen held a number of senior leadership roles at the Center for Creative Leadership, directing their Global Design and Evaluation Services and CCL’s Education and NGO Program offerings. During her 13 years at the Center for Creative Leadership, she and her teams designed innovative blended learning leadership development initiatives intended to close the ‘knowing – doing gap’ and she continues to explore methods for ensuring that leaders and organizations truly transform after attending educational experiences. She has also authored tools and processes designed to help executives choose leadership development experiences that truly impact their business challenges, including the Leadership Development Impact Assessment.

Kathleen has extensive experience customizing and delivering leadership development processes for senior leaders that directly address their specific business challenges. Her specialty topics include leading across cultures, change, developing high performing cross-functional and cross-organizational strategic relationships, senior team dynamics, and CEO intra- and interpersonal leadership excellence. Her extensive research has addressed the same topics, with more than 30 journal articles, books, and chapters written. Most recently she authored a chapter on university president leadership and a new book on leadership development design methodology is in progress. She has worked with a variety of organizations, including pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, food products, insurance, entertainment, education, and U.S. Military Generals and Admirals. Early in her career, Kathleen proudly held several senior leadership roles in public education for the deaf as a principal and assistant superintendent (she still signs fluently) and was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina and the University of North Texas.

RC. What excites you about your role as Global Director of Learning Methods at Duke Corporate Education?
KP. Although the current economic downturn has created hardship, we at Duke Corporate Education see opportunity in this crisis. We believe that even the creative learning methodologies that brought us success in the past won’t work in this new faster, leaner global learning ecology. We’re putting a lot of energy into completely redefining executive education by leveraging e-learning in exciting new ways. That I find exhilarating and I can’t wait to get to work in the morning.

RC. How does the Duke CE approach to learning and development close the ‘knowing-doing’ gap for business leaders? How does it apply to the managerial challenges in the Indian context?
KP. There are very, very few one-time learning events offered by Duke CE – and those occur only at the behest of the client. We start with the goal of creating an ‘end-to-end’ learning experience – one that guides and supports individual, team, and organizational growth and change from an awareness that new ways of working are needed to that pivotal moment when everyday behavior and mindsets reflect the targeted changes. Knowing that the majority of change initiatives fail, we’ve put quite a bit of energy into understanding what defines change success – why it is that some efforts at personal or organizational change do succeed. We’ve learned five (5) key lessons:
(1) Without executive sponsorship – consistent and visible support from those at the top of the organization – even well-crafted executive education programs have limited impact.
(2) Delivering knowledge to executives doesn’t work. We’ve got to engage them in co-creating the answers to their problems, allowing them to author the answers in a way that speaks to their context, their culture.
(3) Learning automatically happens in the office and you’ve got to make sure that the conclusions drawn and meaning made in the office matches target learning goals. You’ve got to ‘show up’ when the inevitable false steps at implementation occur, when frustration explodes at unforeseen obstacles.
(4) Creating change in the way executives see and experience their organization, the way they frame and respond to its challenges, means changing beliefs and attitudes. Like all of us, executives don’t change their daily actions without a fundamental shift in how they see and feel the world around them. That’s why instead of lecturing, our learning events bring alive current business dilemmas using actors, musicians, authors, athletes, and seminal thinkers, engaging executives fully and deeply with the reality they must manage.
(5) You’ve got to ‘show up’ everywhere – in their computer, on their blackberry, on their cell phone, offering continuous support and fresh, relevant learning ‘bytes’. We’re experimenting with novel e-based ways to coach executives as they put new insights into practice. The widespread use of cell phones throughout India makes this an ideal way to deliver program follow-on support to Indian managers. Scheduling a series of 15-30 minute coaching calls to answer questions or give a learning ‘boost’ is a great way to support the practice of new skills, behaviors, and attitudes.

RC. What are the major recent innovations and trends you are observing in the learning methods for executives?
KP. Shrinking dollars for executive education is forever altering the structure and delivery format of executive education. Face-to-face learning events will be reserved only for those learning goals that demand interpersonal interactions.
Designers will need to answer clients who ask, “Why do we need to meet in person?” Anywhere, anytime learning events and supports – that’s what we’ll see. Executive educators need to permanently alter the structure of executive education – and DukeCE will be leading the way.
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June 06, 2009

Australia Downgraded for International Education?

Tom Friedman in his book The World is Flat notes that global economic systems are integrating and countries like India and China are at the center of this phenomenon. However, the recent incidents of racial attacks on Indian students in Australia indicate that we still have a long way to go before we integrate our hearts and souls.

Even an earlier study conducted by Monash University in 2005 found that nearly half the international students interviewed had experienced discrimination and isolation in Australian universities. Does that mean Australia has a failed to address the problem of racism? Maybe. Should Indian students exclude considering Australia as a destination? Definitely not.

Interestingly, the number of Indian students headed to Australia have increased significantly in last few years (Refer my earlier posting). International education in Australia has achieved tremendous success over the years and is expected to enroll nearly one million international students by 2025 with Asian students from China and India comprising half of this demand.

Given limited access to high quality institutions in India, many students go to Australia and other destinations in search of career advancement and possible immigration opportunities. Over the years, Indian students have consistently succeeded in academically rigorous and culturally different environments. The recent incidents are unacceptable and require deeper investigation. However, it should not deter Indians about their study abroad plans to Australia or any other country. It is well-established that host countries like the US and the UK gain from brain-drain of international students from developing world. But even sending countries like India benefit in terms of political, cultural and social networks and also financial benefits in terms of global remittances, entrepreneurship and even "brain-gain".

Blaming every Australian as racist and every university as ineffective would also amount to stereotyping. Recent incidents show that education and racism are deeply embedded within social and economic structure. These issues should be addressed in a similar comprehensive manner to create a socially inclusive environment. Students from any country, including India, need to be protected and Australia has to take proactive steps to fix the problems. At the same time, India needs to set her own house in order and address issues of racism and discrimination.
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June 02, 2009

Guru Mantra: Prof. Bettina Büchel, IMD Switzerland

Bettina Büchel is Professor of Strategy and Organization at IMD – International Institute for Management Development located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Her current research topics include strategy implementation, new business development, strategic alliances and change management.
At IMD, she is the director of two public programs (OWP and Strategic Leadership for Women) and in-company programs and has worked with executive teams to develop and implement strategies. In addition, she has been a consultant in private and public companies in Asia and Europe, e.g. Nestlé, Eli Lilly, Linde, Holcim, UBS, WHO, Telephone Organization of Thailand. Based on her work with companies, she has written numerous case studies on organizations across the world such as Nestlé, BASF, SGS, Holcim, Deutsche Bank, Nira Refinery in India and Legend in China.
Professor Büchel is of German origin and grew up in Malaysia. She received her bachelor of economics and public administration at the University of Constance, Germany, her Masters of Human Resources and Industrial Relations at Rutgers University, USA and her PhD at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She did her post-doctorate at the University of Michigan. After obtaining her PhD, she spent four years working as an Assistant Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok where she was teaching MBA and PhD students across Asia.
She has written seven books on strategy execution, facilitating change, organizational learning, comparative human resources management, joint venture management and communication technology enabled knowledge organizations. Her articles have appeared in leading academic journals.



RC. What excites you about your role as Professor of Strategy and Organization and Dean of Programs at the IMD?
BB: I have the possibility to shape executives at IMD. What could be more exciting?


RC. You are also Program Director of Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) Program. How could this program add value to senior executive participants from India? How do you measure value addition/impact from the program?
BB: Like most top business schools, IMD has adjusted its program content. For our flagship program, Orchestrating Winning Performance, we have ensured that all the streams will help executives clarify immediate challenges and explore long-term solutions in the midst of this critical period. The theme of the program is "Leading in Turbulent Times". In this current economic climate, relevant programs in which the main players can take “risks” to maximize potential impact make executive education expenditure not only worth its value, but rather an essential for organizations that strive to be on top when the good times return.


RC. What are the major innovations and trends you are observing in executive education?
BB: Although there is a continuing corporate call for executive education to demonstrate program impact, activities to support impact and ensure measurement are not heeding the call. I argue that risk-averse behavior on the part of key actors – program designers, faculty, human resources executives – is at the heart of a lack of willingness to engage further in ensuring and measuring executive education impact. If a program is treated as a one-off delivery with limited preparation, follow-through and measurement, the chances of demonstrable personal and/or organizational impact are decreased and the risk-exposure remains minimal. As executive education program designers take on more responsibility for choices made about what activities to include before a program and beyond it, they bear a higher risk of having to demonstrate returns on investment. This is where many of the efforts on the part of HR, chief learning officers and business schools will be in the near future.

Professor Büchel on Executive Education
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June 01, 2009

Role of Professional Associations: Case of NAFSA

This week I attended NAFSA: Association of International Educators annual conference in Los Angeles. NAFSA was founded in 1948 and last year celebrated 60 years of advancing international education. It has nearly 10,000 members at 3,500 institutions, representing over 150 countries.

I have attended several professional conferences earlier, but this one was unique in several ways:

1. Scale: There were nearly 7,500 attendees, 200 sessions and 400 exhibitors at the conference making it one of the largest conferences on education.

2. Global dimension: International participants from all over the world constituted nearly 45% of the total attendees (~3,300).

3. Knowledge spectrum: Sessions were on a range of topics including recruitment, admissions, leadership, curriculum, research and study abroad and hence being valuable to both faculty/researchers and administrators.

4. Event Management: Meticulous and professional event management despite huge size of the conference.

It was an intellectually stimulating opportunity to learn about the latest trends in international education and also an excellent networking opportunity. NAFSA conference also indicated the critical role it played in the professionalization and growth of international education.

Professions do not exist in vacuum and their capacity to add value depends on developing and engaging a cadre of specialists who understand and solve the pressing issues of the society/industry. Greenwood et al. (2002) suggest that "professional associations, play an important role in theorizing change, endorsing local innovations and shaping their diffusion."

Indian education system also needs professional associations and conferences to engage in a discourse and advance the profession of education. Although a few organizations like FICCI-HEN and EDGE have taken the initiative of organizing professional conferences in India, there is a long way to go for them to engage wider participation and achieve impactful results. Professional associations in education may play a critical and catalytic role of promoting and developing the "profession" of education and foster efficiency, effectiveness and innovation in the system.

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