Interview: Prof. Danica Purg, IEDC Bled
IEDC-Bled School of Management has been active for 25 years. It works with professors from leading business schools in Europe and North America who advise global and international companies and therefore truly understand the challenges facing firms in the region. Prof. Danica Purg, dean and president of the school, says custom-made educational programmes are further contributing to the success of this internationally renowned educational institution.
Lately, you have been increasingly concentrating on the education of individual companies. What benefits can you offer in this area?
Custom-made education is not a novelty for IEDC, which has had many years of experience in this field. We have developed and organized longer programs for companies from Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Turkey, and short educational programmes and workshops for Slovenian and foreign companies. With the help of the Norwegian government we also developed these workshops for the governments of several countries in the region. Companies and other organisations choose our workshops because of quality content, the excellent international group of professors, perfect fit with their development needs, innovativeness and the excellent execution.
With the custom-made educational programmes, organisations quickly and efficiently develop strategic directions, values, skills and relations, on which the business model is based and should be internalised by employees. We are currently doing a series of educational seminars for one of the biggest banks in the region. The purpose of this seminar is to present to 600 managers the basic directions and goals of the company and equip them with the knowledge and skills to achieve them. Companies often invite us to help develop strategy, modernise the business model, evaluate the leadership potential and similar strategic projects. The workshops help create concrete action and communication plans. With the custom-made programmes we see more than 20 percent annual growth – 90 percent of companies hail from abroad.
What are the preparations for such courses like and how do they work in practice?
Every programme is custom-made. It is the result of the company working closely with IEDC. The preparation of such courses usually happens in four steps: first we set the goals (what the companies want to achieve with the educational programme) with the top brass. The purpose of the first step is to create a connection between the educational programme and the strategy, culture and business challenges of the company. Next comes the shaping and developing of the programme, where we set all the educational elements, from the methods, length, place of courses, special educational methods to the development of case studies, based on the company’s actual challenges. During the workshops the programme is monitored by the programme director, who supervises the execution of the education process and if necessary adapts certain elements so we can achieve the desired goals. After the completion comes the evaluation. If the programme is repeated, we make the appropriate modifications – if we realise during the workshops that changes are necessary. In the case of strategic workshops, the professors also put together an action plan, which helps the company realise its goals. The professor is also available to the company after the workshops finish. Companies often decide to conduct “follow-up” workshops, where they check what has been done since the last workshop, what the problems are and so on.
What are the advantages of this approach?
The advantage of custom education and strategic workshops is that companies collaborate in the creation of the programme from the very beginning. The courses are completely adapted to the strategic and educational priorities of the companies. Because the goals are set at the very start, the measure of success and the effectiveness of the investment are much greater and more reliable. The companies work with internationally renowned professors, who bring something extra and a critical insight due to their experience with different companies from different fields and different countries.
What has the response from companies been like? Do they prefer this approach to hiring consulting firms?
The responses from companies have been extremely positive. Their satisfaction and trust are best seen in the fact that they keep choosing IEDC as an educational partner and recommend us to other companies. Our greatest reward is when the course participants or the leading figures in companies tell us that we have enriched their lives; that they are much more open-minded and less short-sighted; and that our professors have motivated them to become better managers, better leaders and better people. Let me quote one of the participants of a seminar we did for a Dutch company: “I think of your seminar every day, almost every hour. I did not write sooner because I needed time to think. You are probably not aware of what you did for us, but it was a minor miracle for me, which I will remember for a long time.”
We receive such appraisals for our most innovative programmes, where we enlist the help of not only businessmen and professors, but also artists and other socially responsible people. Our innovative methods not only encourage people to learn, but also help change their ways of thinking.
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