By creating in-house "corporate universities" to provide their employees with convenient opportunities for continuous learning, many major companies are undertaking a revolution in the way they approach employee training--and the School of Continuing Studies has become part of that movement by establishing its first-ever partnerships with corporate universities.
SCS has joined with Booz-Allen & Hamilton, the prestigious, billion-dollar international management and technology consulting firm, to set up a rigorous, two-year master's degree program in information and telecommunications systems at the company's headquarters in McLean, Va. The program becomes part of Booz-Allen's corporate university, the Center for Performance Excellence. The first 35 employee/students began courses on June 1.
In addition, a 10-day executive development program was created for AEGON NV, the multinational, multibillion-dollar insurance giant, with 41 top executives from 13 countries attending classes at the Mount Washington Conference Center in Baltimore from May 26 through June 5.
For this program, "we were able to draw upon the expertise of the Division of Business and Management as well as the School of Advanced International Studies to provide cutting-edge information on management, business ethics and globalization," says Sheldon Greenberg, chairman of SCS's Department of Interdisciplinary Programs.
"We focused on current issues, such as advances in technology, ecommerce, international competition and emerging markets, as well as on positioning companies for the future in a changing world," Greenberg notes, adding that the executive training sessions for AEGON personnel will become an annual program. The Dutch-based AEGON owns Transamerica and Monumental Agency Group, among other companies. Its U.S. headquarters are in Baltimore.
Edward Cohen, director of Booz-Allen's Center for Performance Excellence, says his company considers the new relationship with Hopkins to be a perfect "alignment" of corporation and university.
"We met with several different universities, and we felt that the content and quality of the Johns Hopkins degree programs, as well as Johns Hopkins' outstanding reputation throughout the world, are a direct fit with Booz-Allen's business strategy. A significant factor also has been the flexibility that Johns Hopkins provided to Booz-Allen so that we could really have a true partnership," Cohen says. "It has never felt one-sided in any way--and I attribute that particularly to Carol Keyser, who has been an exceptional representative of Johns Hopkins since the day we met her.
"Booz-Allen wants to invest in these people," explains Keyser, information and telecommunications program director in the Graduate Division of Business and Management. "The company is paying their tuition."
Cohen says, "The reason why we looked to partner with a university is because our employees have an appetite for advanced degree programs to grow IT skills in our firm. But often people didn't have the time to take these courses outside the company, so by bringing these courses to our workplace, we've added the convenience factor," he explains.
"There is great excitement being generated by this program because our employees will be able to participate in designing some of the experiences that will happen within the course, such as the case studies they'll undertake and the specific areas of focus on which they'll concentrate," Cohen adds. "This will provide a very rich experience, not only with the content of the courses Johns Hopkins will be teaching but also through the involvement of our senior leadership in the program. The participants will be able to transition the knowledge they acquire directly to the work that they do."
Keyser adds, "These employees really are typical Hopkins students: They're highly motivated; they're dedicated; they're real go-getters. Booz-Allen has a high standard for employee development. This seemed like a natural match," says Keyser, who spent more than a year in conversations with Booz-Allen before creating the precedent-setting partnership.
In addition to the 15-course master's degree program, Hopkins is offering Booz-Allen employees a six-course program that leads to a certificate in information and telecommunications systems, Keyser says.
Keyser says that what corporations are requiring more and more today are "people who understand how to use technology to solve business problems." To make it easier for its employees to develop those and other skills, Booz-Allen established its Center for Performance Excellence last February. Within three months, its partnership with Hopkins was agreed upon.
"A lot of Booz-Allen employees already have come to Hopkins," Keyser says, "and this makes it easier for them. After a full day at work, they can roll out of their desks, push an elevator button, and they're in school."
Keyser says that SCS will likely establish additional corporate partnerships in the future. "We see a lot of employers who believe they have to do this to retain employees--to keep them upgraded and in tune with the explosion of information. It is changing the way people do business. A tuition benefit always has been a way of keeping good employees, and a corporate university that has a partnership with an institution like Hopkins is a good recruiting tool."
Booz-Allen now has 8,840 employees and annual revenues of $1.5 billion. On behalf of government clients, it focuses on information technology, defense, telecommunications, environment, transportation and restructuring. In addition, it provides consultation services to large private clients that deal in oil, aerospace and communications. Its projects range from advising the Internal Revenue Service on modernization to supplying consultation services to the Washington Metro and San Francisco and New Jersey transit systems.