NYC workshops bring the best of Cornell to business leaders

Through a new series of workshops, Cornell University is bringing its best to busy executives in New York City. The half-day morning workshops are a collaboration across the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, the ILR School, Cornell Tech and Cornell’s online and executive education programs and eCornell. They are designed to maximize value for senior talent and organizational development executives by providing multifaceted perspectives and peer networking in midtown Manhattan.

The format was an ideal fit for 36 executives from some of the world’s largest companies, who gathered this summer for the second workshop, Uncovering the Leader Within: A Workshop on Women in Leadership. In four hours, Cornell presenters shared research- and practice-based insights as attendees shared personal experiences, brainstormed in two breakout sessions and connected during lunch.

“Cornell’s event brought experience from all corners of the school, especially their work with varied audiences – undergrads, MBAs, executives – and practitioners from different industries. This created a great forum to hear about interesting approaches to consider in my own work,” said Lisanne Biolos, director of executive talent development for KPMG.

Other executives echoed Biolos’ sentiments, adding that the sessions created an important space for personal and professional reflection.

“One of the reasons I was most interested in participating in this program was that it offered a chance to talk about critical and strategic thinking with women who are human resources professionals,” said Risa Mish, professor of the practice of management at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Shantelle Williams, director of global talent development at MasterCard, said: “Life is busy and I tend to use every moment serving my customers – people leaders at MasterCard located all over the world. But like the shoemaker’s child running barefoot down the street, as an HR leader, I made time to attend this workshop as an investment in myself.”

Creating more spaces for this kind of professional development is Erik Michielsen’s goal as regional director of executive education at Cornell SC Johnson. The workshops grew out of a desire to harness Cornell’s thought-leadership to offer professionals better opportunities to engage with faculty and each other. It requires Michielsen to get buy-in from a cross-section of Cornell faculty, schools and organizations to give adult learners a better understanding of the broad knowledge the university offers for career development.

“Our corporate learners live in a world of collaboration and cross-functionality, so we’re following suit by breaking down silos to bring out the best in Cornell and bring people together to benefit this community in a focused way,” said Michielsen.

As part of its “One Cornell” strategy, the university launched its integrated Cornell SC Johnson College of Business to unify the university’s three accredited business programs. The unification provides faculty more varied opportunities for research collaboration and outreach.

Executive outreach is especially important for faculty in Cornell SC Johnson and the ILR School, whose academic interests emphasize applied business management and organizational development. Opportunities to engage with this audience, and learn from them, happen now in multiday custom executive education programs and increasingly online through eCornell certificate programs. Executive workshops like Women in Leadership offer a new, scalable option for face-to-face interaction.

Workshops are planned for New York City and San Francisco this fall, but Michielsen envisions the concept spreading beyond the Cornell SC Johnson to make an even larger impact.

“We hope others can learn from our model and replicate it to collaborate across schools and platforms,” Michielsen said. “We can make an exponential impact by working together. We can do so much more.”