Executive Development Blog

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

Preparing Business Leaders for Digital Disruption

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 19, 2016 2:12:51 PM

Below is a summary of a new UNC white paper written by Kip Kelly and Kimberly Schaufenbuel.

New digital technologies are driving a massive transformation in the global economy, and the convergence of these technologies is enabling innovative business models that are disrupting the status quo for many organizations. Digital disruption is forcing many companies—and even entire industries—to rethink their business models.

disruption3.jpgAs organizations adjust and redesign in response to digital disruption, they will need to think differently about talent management. Rapidly changing business models will require new skill sets for leaders. They will need agility to handle the changing markets and industries that digital disruption makes inevitable. They will need resilience; the ability to handle volatility and complexity. They must become more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. They must learn to adapt and move fluidly in a rapidly changing business environment.  These leadership traits are hard to find, so talent management professionals will need to work even harder to attract, develop, and retain business leaders with the right skill set to be successful. At the same time, the human resource field is not immune to the forces of digital disruption, so talent management professionals will also need to anticipate and accept that their roles will likely change in the near future. As business models change, it will become critical that HR is aligned with business strategy, and that talent management becomes more nimble to adapt quickly when the strategy changes.

Digital Disruption and the War for Talent

If companies are engaged in a digital arms race, the battle for top talent just became a top priority. This calls for a different approach to leadership development. Edgar Berger, Chairman and CEO of Sony Music—an industry that has been rocked by digital disruption—says that a focus on leadership and talent development is critical to survive. Leaders in today’s business environments must have the ability to take risks, be comfortable with ambiguity, and have the ability to handle fast-moving business models. Flexibility is also key, says Berger (Spencer Stuart staff, 2015).

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The Growing Trend of Online Certificates

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 14, 2016 11:45:37 AM

There’s a growing trend in today’s recent graduates and for those looking to gain knowledge and skills with immediate ROI. That trend is enrolling in online certificate programs. These certificate programs are often considered “mini-MBA” programs or courses which focus on a particular topic or skill. US News recently published an article which features a graduate of UNC’s online Business Essentials program, or UBE. 

ube-keyboard.jpgWhen Allison Bonner was wrapping up her senior year at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill in 2013, she desired business skills to round out her resume and supplement her double major in classical music and communications. The 25-year-old, who now works in human resources, turned to UNC's self-paced Business Essentials online certificate program to learn the subject without having to pursue a full MBA – a step she wasn't ready for at that point, she says.”

Whether you are just beginning your career search or are expanding your career opportunities, you need to have a firm grasp of the core business principles. The UNC Business Essentials online program can provide:

Marketable Skills
Companies are looking for their employees to add more value than ever. With a solid foundation of business knowledge that includes marketing, finance, operations, and communications, you’ll be positioned to contribute in ways that move beyond your main area of expertise.

UNC Caliber
The same notable faculty that teach our top-ranked business programs developed this rigorous business certificate program,logo-ube-print.jpg providing you with a valuable UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School credential on your resume.

Because the program is completely online, you’ll be able to start on a date that works best for you and then work on it at a pace that fits your everyday schedule.

To read the full article from US News click here.
To learn more about UNC’s Business Essentials program click here.

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Why Workplace Mentoring is a Good Idea

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 12, 2016 1:43:06 PM

What’s one of the best ways to retain your top talent and transition knowledge from your senior leaders to tomorrow's emerging leaders?  The answer may surprise you as it’s a practice that’s been around for as long as anyone can remember.  And its cost impact on the bottom line is minimal, if anything.  It’s a term we all know; mentoring.

mentor-5.jpgMentoring is a strategic tool that, when done right, can attract and retain high-potential talent and accelerate leadership development and readiness. Mentoring is also an effective tool for shaping organizational culture and closing engagement and generational gaps. It has often been said that the most important work of a leader is the development of other leaders.

Lauren Trees is a research program manager at the nonprofit APQC.  She writes about the current state of mentoring and what it looks like in our modern-day business world.  “In an era of integrated e-learning suites and bite-sized videos, people may wonder whether an old-school training and development technique like mentoring still has a role to play. But despite the trend toward DIY and on-demand learning, the past few years have seen a resurgence of interest in workplace mentoring programs.”  She came up with 4 reasons why organizations should support workplace mentoring:

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Topics: leadership development, mentoring

UNC Executive Development Welcomes New President and ideas@work

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 7, 2016 10:56:31 AM

Gawronski_9531_email.jpgI am proud and humbled to have this opportunity to introduce myself as the new President of Executive Development at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. It is a bit intimidating to follow Susan Cates, my predecessor, who did an outstanding job putting UNC Executive Development on the global map. I am grateful to work with a world-class team and a school of global renown to continue our trajectory of success. I have found motivation of employees to be directly proportional to the confidence they have that the organization, the product, and the brand they represent are the best, so my motivation is brimming.

It is a source of personal satisfaction that my career has brought me full circle to serve UNC, my alma mater. My accounting degree from UNC set me up with the intellectual and professional flexibility to be effective in senior executive roles in a variety of disciplines, domestically and internationally, to be productive in large, complex organizational structures as well as in the lean structures of start-ups, and to handle failure as well as success. I come into my role as President of UNC Executive Development excited to put my life in the trenches to broader use in service to our clients and, in turn, lend to the continued success of my alma mater.

My goal in my new role is simple: That UNC Executive Development delivers programs that our clients, existing and new, see as inextricably linked to their success. I am sure if we deliver on that goal, our growth and the lofty global and national rankings will take care of themselves.

UNC-IdeasAtWork_Vol11.jpgIn this, my inaugural ideas@work issue, we present many topics researched by the talented individuals on the UNC
Executive Development team. Horace McCormick provides an actionable framework and tools for navigating the workforce strategy process, while Kirk Lawrence draws on his own considerable professional experience in his five tips to inspire first-time leaders. Kimberly Schaufenbuel delves into the neuroscience behind the failure of the traditional performance review process and highlights alternative approaches currently being implemented by forward-thinking organizations. Tony Laffoley’s overview of personality assessments is accompanied by valuable tips to HR and talent management professionals on how to correctly use these in the workplace. And lastly, our 2016 research on how organizations are redefining the competencies their leaders need to manage a more diverse, globally distributed workforce is summarized.

I trust that the insights in one or more of these papers will touch a nerve and give you the impetus to contact us directly to engage in more dialogue on how these topics and more may play out in your organization.

Thank you for your continued support,

Tom Gawronski

  Click to Download Volume 11

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UNC Fall 2016 Open Enrollment Program Schedule Released

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 5, 2016 2:10:05 PM

For over sixty years, UNC Executive Development has offered leadership development and business education programs designed specifically to help individuals reach their full potential. Our programs prepare business professionals at all levels with the knowledge and skills they need to think more strategically, make better decisions, and lead more effectively.

UNC Executive Development has a variety of programs designed to support business professionals throughout their career. From new managers to senior executives and everyone in between, our programs attract working professionals who want to strengthen their business acumen and become better leaders. Our Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 schedule has been released.  The following programs are scheduled:


All programs are held at the Rizzo Conference Center, our world-class facility located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. All of the amenities at the Rizzo Conference Center are designed to create a unique learning experience that is unparalleled.

Make sure to download our program brochure below.  We look forward to seeing you in Chapel Hill this fall!

Click to Learn More about UNC's Leadership Programs

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Advancing Women in Leadership and Why It's a Good Idea

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 30, 2016 10:54:45 AM

Traditional workplaces have been slow to accommodate women. As a result, record numbers of women are leaving the labor force, a trend that is detrimental to women and organizations. It is possible, with the right programs, policies, and organizational cultures, to not only retain high-potential women, but to develop them to be organizational leaders.

Cheryl Carleton, an assistant professor of economics at Villanova University, proposes five ways to advance women as leaders in organizations:

  1. Women-Leader.jpgEnsure accountability. Managers should be held accountable for the amount of diversity on their teams by tying their salaries and performance evaluations to diversity levels.
  1. Measure and reward invisible work. Women often play supportive, collaborative roles in organizations. These are important, but often overlooked attributes. Employers should make sure people are recognized for the valuable but often invisible work they do. If this work is never acknowledged, employees—mostly women—in these roles will never be promoted.
  1. Rethink scheduling. Offer the flexibility men and women want.
  1. Address culture. All the policies and programs are wasted if the organizational culture discourages their use.
  1. Be an example. Women are often leery of taking advantage of maternity and flexible leave because they fear being labeled as “Mommy.” Senior leaders must set the example and participate in leave programs (Carleton, 2013).

More companies are also fostering women leaders by assigning sponsors to high-potential women. Sponsors can actively champion women and move them up the career ladder. HR and talent management professionals can also monitor retention and promotion rates for female and male employees and report on the use of flexible programs and other family-friendly policies. This increased transparency is important not only in terms of accountability, but also in signaling to all employees the importance of retention, promotion, and flexibility in the company’s culture.

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Topics: leadership

Do Your Leaders Have the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities to Succeed?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 28, 2016 10:18:17 AM

You can spend a lifetime reading about leadership; a quick Internet search will show that there are nearly 70,000 books on the subject available through Amazon.com and more than two million research articles. Thought leaders at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School have condensed the best of these publications into an effective continuous learning cycle that HR and talent management professionals can incorporate into their organizations’ leadership development programs to strengthen each individual’s ability to learn and adapt as a leader. The continuous learning cycle is an integrated approach that focuses on the following four core components and produces solid results in leadership development.

The Continuous Learning Cycle

1. Principles
Principles are the knowledge, skills and abilities leaders need to possess. The first step in an organization’s leadership Closing_the_Gaps_in_Leadership_Development.bmpdevelopment plan begins with identifying what knowledge, skills and abilities need to be further developed in the organization.

2. Practice
Identifying an area for development is not enough. Leadership studies have repeatedly shown that the best way to learn, particularly for adults, is through practical experience such as on-the-job, project-based work and action learning. Companies that excel at offering such leadership development opportunities include Unilever, IBM, Novo Nordisk, ABN Amro and BG Group. Examples of hands-on action learning opportunities include coaching others, leading a meeting, team building, or even taking an expatriate assignment.

3. Feedback
The pioneer of leadership studies Warren Bennis once said: “Make sure you have someone in your life from whom you can get reflective feedback.” Honest feedback is critical to a leader’s success, and as such, organizations must foster cultures where leaders can give and receive it. Feedback can come in many forms--mentoring and coaching, performance reviews, personality assessments, and monitoring reactions to written and verbal communications (e.g., combative, supportive, tense, etc.). Feedback helps individuals gather information about how others view their strengths and development opportunities.

4. Reflection
In this continuing learning cycle, reflection means taking the time to put the principles, practice and feedback into context. Did the leadership development experience deliver the intended results? Why or why not? 

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Topics: leadership development

Understanding Human Capital Analytics

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 23, 2016 11:09:59 AM

Human capital analytics, also known as human resources analytics or talent analytics, is the application of sophisticated data mining and business analytics techniques to human resources data. Collecting and analyzing data in human resources is not new, but several converging trends have helped to accelerate the growth of human capital analytics. First, the amount of data that is available to companies is growing exponentially, and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Recent technologies have emerged to help companies capture unstructured data and combine it with structured data to provide new and valuable insights. Cheaper, faster technologies have made it more affordable than ever to collect and analyze large datasets. Annual and quarterly reports are giving way to real-time decision making and predictive analytics. These trends are all working together to create a brave new world for human resources professionals.


The trend of using human capital analytics in decision making has made 2015, according to Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, the “year for analytics.” He writes in a recent report that in 2015, “it is becoming imperative for HR teams to invest in talent analytics….(T)his means bringing together the reporting and analytics teams in recruiting, compensation, engagement, learning, and leadership, and putting together a plan to evaluate (the) workforce with a holistic data perspective.” Assembling this team and launching the process, he notes, will take two to three years for a company to complete (Bersin, 2015).

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It's Time to Get Serious about Managing Your Talent

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 21, 2016 10:57:37 AM

Most business leaders pay little more than lip service when it comes to talent management. A survey on talent management by Bersin by Deloitte found that only one-third of employers in the United States said they had identified critical roles or talent segments in their organizations based on business goals. Further, less than 10 percent of respondents said they had reached a stage where talent management was part of their annual business planning process and that talent management was “truly owned by business leaders and line managers,” and only 7 percent of respondents said they had a strategic talent management program in place (O’Leonard, 2010).

talent-1.jpgFor many organizations, particularly those in a growth stage, the lack of a strategic talent management program is costly. Organizations that have a strategic talent management program in place generate more than twice the revenue per employee than those without programs, have a 40 percent lower employee turnover rate, and have a 38 percent higher level of employee engagement (Bersin, 2012).

There are any number of reasons why business leaders undervalue talent management. As Edward Lawler noted in an article for Forbes, some business leaders believe their organizations can survive without top talent. Other business leaders may acknowledge that talent management is important, but not as important as other business functions like finance or technology. Still other business leaders simply fail to see the link between talent and their organization’s business strategy because their backgrounds are not in HR and talent management (Lawler, 2014). As Lawler notes, it is the HR and talent management professional’s responsibility to help business leaders see—and embrace—that link.

Time to get serious about developing your talent?  Take a look at our upcoming program calendar to see how we can help.

  Click to Learn More about UNC's Leadership Programs

For more information on talent management, download the UNC white paper on the topic titled Designing Talent Management to Meet an Organization’s Strategic Needs.

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