Executive Development Blog

Unlocking the Potential of Big Data

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 25, 2016 12:19:38 PM

An increasing number of our senior level partners wrestle with applying data analytics. They see data analytics as a tool to effectively accelerate their key strategic priorities. They hear about industry leading companies using big data to help drive revenue growth or reduce costs, yet are unclear on what big data is, best practices in data analytics, how it can be used as an innovation tool, and missteps to avoid.

big-data.jpgWe’ve seen where big data business analytics leads to significant innovations fueled by data sets. Such innovations lead to increased personalization and greater customer loyalty, driving revenue growth. Big data business analytics is also increasingly critical to help businesses optimize operations and increase profitability. There are specific and new elements that must be considered and applied across business units. At the same time, big data business analytics is the latest in a long line of expensive initiatives that are frequently sub-optimized in their effect, such as CRMs and Enterprise Risk Management tools. The technical side in rolling out these initiatives is critical, as is changing specific behaviors in the way organizations operate.

UNC Executive Development’s newest white paper helps unlock the promise of big data analytics. It outlines key elements of big data analytics, important questions for leaders to consider when expanding big data as a tool to drive business results, lessons we’ve learned here at UNC Executive Development in our experience working with major clients across multiple industry segments, and a suggested 90 day action plan for you to tweak for your own use. Download a copy below to read on.

Click to Download Full White Paper

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Topics: leadership development

UNC Kenan-Flagler Faculty Spotlight: Brad Staats

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 23, 2016 11:28:43 AM

Back when Brad Staats was getting his MBA at Harvard Business School, he came up with a list of the five criteria he envisioned in a perfect job. It included learning constantly, creating value and using his love for data to solve analytical problems.

“I appreciated that at a lot of jobs you get up the learning curve and then potentially flatten out,” says Staats. “I wanted to be in an environment where I was learning constantly.”

Staats.jpgAfter spending two years at a venture capital fund post-MBA, he stepped back to take a hard look at what he wanted out of his career. He didn’t take long to recognize that becoming a professor was the obvious next move.

“Academia fit all the criteria for me,” says Staats, associate professor of operations at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “Even if you figure out one puzzle, you’re moving onto the next one.”

He returned to Harvard to get his doctorate in technology and operations management and hasn’t looked back since. He’s been on the fast track at UNC Kenan-Flagler, where he started out as an assistant professor of operations in 2009 and quickly rose through the ranks. He became an associate professor in 2013 and received tenure two years earlier than anticipated.

The accolades followed. He received the Wickham Skinner Early-Career Research Accomplishments Award – the premier honor for an early career operations faculty member – from the Production and Operations Management Society in 2013. His passion for excellence in both teaching and research earned him recognition from Poets & Quants, which named him one of the “Best 40-Under-40 Professors” in the world in 2014. In 2016 he received the Warren Bennis Prize – which honors the best Harvard Business Review (HBR)article on leadership published in the previous year – for his HBR article, “Why Organizations Don’t Learn.”

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Do You Consider Yourself a Talent Builder?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 18, 2016 3:06:58 PM

So, you say you want to be known as a leader who builds talent? If that sounds like a reputation that you want, then there are some time-tested actions that you should be taking to build talent in your organization. Developing talent is a long-term talent_builders.jpginvestment that must be executed by line leaders in an organization. HR organizations can help pave the way and increase the probability of accelerating development in an organization, but ultimately line leaders must get it done. Even if a company’s practices are robust and up to date, talent management will fail without serious commitment and execution from line leaders.

We have found that there are about a dozen critical actions that all talent builders must take to ensure the development of their people. Most of these actions are not dependent upon anyone but the leader him or herself. Over the years, we have noticed that great talent builders perform most, if not all, of these actions on a consistent basis no matter what organization they are in. What follows is an action plan that will help line leaders become talent builders.

Download our white paper below which will benefit all leaders who are serious about managing talent effectively in their organization. It also provides helpful perspective for HR Professionals and Talent Management Specialists in the field.

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Topics: leadership development

Women in Business: Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 16, 2016 3:29:28 PM

Professional women commonly face a unique set of challenges as they rise to senior ranks compared to their male peers. Gender discrimination, stereotyping, dual career-family pressures, and the lack of equal opportunities in certain industries all play a role in challenging professional women in their transition from managing to leading. 


There is absolutely no reason why women, who make up 47% of the workforce in the United States, cannot hold the equivalent number of top executive roles (as opposed to the current, dismal 14%). – Lindsay Pattison, Fortune.

A recent article from Fortune written by Lindsay Pattison outlined Five Things Every Woman Must Do to Become CEO.  They are as follows:

  1. Prepare more than you have to.
    Being over prepared and having done your research, you’ll leave behind any worries of being intimidated.
  1. Be confident but don’t leave kindness at the door.
    You can be confident, express opinions, and show authority all while being kind.
  1. Bring something different to the table.
    Accentuate what makes you different from the rest.

  2. Ask yourself the right questions.
    Ask yourself questions and be honest so you know the next steps you’re taking.
  1. Believe in yourself.
    Constantly remind yourself of your ambitions and that you are confident in what you can accomplish.

Read the full article from Fortune here.

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Recruiting and Retaining Veterans

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 11, 2016 12:06:36 PM

Employers who hire veterans find that it is a win-win situation for all involved. HR and talent managers interested in launching a program dedicated to hiring and retaining veterans in their organizations can begin the process with the following steps:

veteran.jpgGet support from senior leaders
All successful programs require support from senior leaders, and a program dedicated to hiring and retaining veterans is no exception. HR and talent management professionals should be prepared to make the business case as to why their organizations’ would benefit from a veteran’s hiring program. The business case should include an overview about what other HR and talent management professionals have realized through their own veteran hiring programs (using the information contained in this white paper), an identification of challenges with possible solutions, a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis and an explanation of how the program links to organizational goals.

Use existing resources to find veterans
Despite the fact that there are a number of job boards and online resources available to veterans looking for jobs, few HR and talent management professionals seem to take advantage of these resources. A recent SHRM survey found that only 13 percent of respondents said they were very familiar with where to find veterans. They are out there, however, and can (and should) be found.

Welcome veterans into your organization
The welcoming process begins at the recruiting phase; let veterans know your organization is “military friendly.” For example, veterans appreciate flexible work options, so if your organization offers them, include that information in your job advertisements. Many businesses have established employee resource groups for veterans—let veterans know that as well.

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The Importance of Developing Negotiation Skills

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 9, 2016 11:10:29 AM

When you hear the word “negotiation” does it make you want to drop everything and run in fear? You may not realize that you negotiate with others every day. From determining who will do what at work, to where you might go for lunch, to what your schedule will be, you are negotiating all of these details. This is why having effective negotiation skills is one of the most important business skills you should be working on developing.


Negotiating is not about winning, losing, or getting the upper-hand on the other side, it’s about your relationship with another party or person. HubSpot recently published six common mistakes people make when negotiating. They are:

Mistake 1: Don’t Prepare
Understand your goals and what you want to get out of the negotiation. It’s a lot easier to think of this beforehand rather than in the middle of the negotiation process.

Mistake 2: Immediately Get Down to Business
Build some rapport first. No need to rush into things in an already tense situation.

Mistake 3: Pay No Attention to Non-Verbal Cues
Your body language says a lot about you. Does it match your words? Does it tell a different story?

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Where Does Motivation Come From?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 2, 2016 11:09:43 AM

To move and inspire people, you must first understand them. For centuries, deciphering what motivates human behavior has baffled even the most influential thought leaders. Getting others, and ourselves, to do our best work in a dynamic environment is an enduring challenge. Intuitively, organizations may believe that compensation is the primary motivator for results, but scientific evidence suggests that the link between money, motivation, and performance is much more intricate.

motivation-2.jpgMotivated employees outperform unmotivated peers in productivity, innovation, creativity, customer service, engagement, and retention—all of which gives an organization a competitive advantage that is vital in today’s high speed, hyper-connected business environment. Neuroscience has provided new insight on how motivation is processed in the brain. Frameworks like Lawrence and Nohria’s Drivers of Human Behavior model and Rock’s SCARF model combine motivation theory and neuroscience and offer roadmaps for how HR and talent management professionals can help shape their organizational culture and environment to motivate employees, spur engagement, and boost the bottom line. Motivated employees can a transform business.

Download a copy of our white paper titled, Motivation on the Brain – Applying the Neuroscience of Motivation in the Workplace which: 

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The Importance of Employee Engagement

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 28, 2016 10:58:58 AM

The greatest concerns of most CEOs are operational excellence, innovation, risk, the regulatory environment, and competing globally. Underpinning those areas is their primary concern—human capital. The “people thread” is what prepares an organization to compete and win. The greatest asset that organizations have is the power of their employees. Employee engagement—the emotional commitment of employees—is a tremendous competitive advantage that impacts the bottom line when strategically managed.

engage-1.jpgThe majority of organizations have an opportunity to further leverage employee engagement as a business driver. A recent Gallup poll found that more than 70 percent of American workers are either actively or passively disengaged from their work. HR, talent management professionals, and business leaders need to assess (or re-assess) how widespread and entrenched employee disengagement is in their organizations and partner together to improve it.

We’ve done some research on the topic of engagement and compiled it in a white paper which:

  • Discusses the costs of employee disengagement in organizations.
  • Links employee engagement to an organization’s bottom line and offers reasons why employee engagement should be a strategic business priority.
  • Offers steps that HR and talent managers can take to improve employee engagement throughout their organizations.
  • Provides examples of what organizations are doing to boost employee engagement.

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Topics: employee engagement, leadership

Serious Games in Today's Technology Driven Workplace

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 26, 2016 11:43:12 AM

Serious games are video games designed to improve learning, and players engage in serious games with that understanding (Derryberry, 2007). Also known as immersive learning simulations, digital game-based learning, and gaming simulations, serious games are developed with specific learning outcomes in mind that will result in measurable, sustained changes in performance or behavior.

serious-games.jpgSerious games can allow players to apply what they have learned in an L&D experience and apply it in a safe, simulated environment. For example, health care professionals can practice a new medical procedure using a serious sim game before introducing it in the workplace. There is also evidence that serious games can develop soft skills like emotional intelligence, communication management, and critical problem solving and collaboration skills (Marinho, 2012).

Serious games are increasingly being used by large U.S. employers to recruit, improve communication among managers and their staffs, and to train employees and new hires at all levels in their organizations (Derryberry, 2007). The U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, Nortel, Cold Stone Creamery, McKinsey & Co., SAS Institute, and Digital Equipment are just a few organizations using serious games in their workplaces (Derryberry, 2007; Maurer, 2012; Steinberg, 2012).

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Topics: UNC, leadership development

Wanted: Those Who Understand Big Data

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 21, 2016 11:47:39 AM

The demand for big data talent is growing rapidly. Many organizations are planning to increase their staff in big data and analytics in the upcoming year and estimated that big data staffing would increase significantly in the next few years.

 HelpWanted.jpgA recent McKinsey study supports these findings. The authors predict that there will be a severe shortage of those who can analyze and interpret big data, predicting that by 2018, the United States could face a shortage of up to 190,000 workers with deep analytical skills and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the ability to use the big data analytics to make effective decisions. (Manyika et al, 2011.) This includes the ability to integrate findings from big data with knowledge derived from other techniques which offer different strengths and biases, such as focus groups and targeted surveys.

The increasing demand for big data analysts who can crunch and communicate the numbers and the lack of managers and business leaders who can interpret the data means there is a growing talent shortage in the field. A survey conducted by The Big Data London group (in Raywood, 2012) found that 78 percent of respondents said there was a big data talent shortage, and 70 percent believed there was a knowledge gap between big data workers and those commissioning the projects (e.g., managers and CIOs). Another survey by NewVantage Partners (2012) found that 60 percent of respondents reported finding it very difficult to find and hire big data professionals, and 50 percent of respondents said it was very difficult to find and hire business leaders and managers who could identify and optimize business applications in big data.

This impending talent shortage will create a significant challenge for HR and talent management professionals responsible for recruiting, developing, and retaining a critical skill set that will soon be in high-demand. To help their organizations realize the full potential of big data, HR and talent management professionals must understand the fundamentals of big data, why it matters, and what skills their organizations will need to analyze and interpret the large amounts of data they collect.

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Topics: leadership, talent management, talent development, data