Education

Cornell launches online executive training program to edge out other Ivies (exclusive)

Image Credit: matt.hintsa

Bad leadership is like the proverbial iceberg that sunk the Titanic — it doesn’t matter how strong the ship is if it’s being steered into disaster.

Cornell University announced the launch of an online corporate training program called Redshift that aims to make high quality executive education more affordable and practical for businesses of all sizes. Redshift falls under the umbrella of eCornell, a subsidiary of the university that provides online certification programs for professional and executive development.

“A big issue is that two out of every three leadership and management positions in America are hired from the outside instead of hiring people from within,” said eCornell’s CEO Chris Proulx in an interview with VentureBeat. “This is a huge strain on productivity, but the solutions for developing talent internally come from two camps — high-end, cost-prohibitive options that don’t scale, or cheaper options that don’t have the impact to be effective.”

Redshift is a subscription-based educational program that offers MBA-level online courses from Cornell, real-world projects, and individual access to mentors and advisers to ask questions and get feedback.

“It combines impact, access, and pricing in a way that doesn’t currently exist in the market,” Proulx said.

American businesses spent a whopping $131.3 billion on corporate training initiatives last year. The goal is to groom existing employees for higher-level roles by teaching them management skills and developing their knowledge, techniques, and professional networks.

Most of the elite business schools in America offer executive education programs. They cost thousands of dollars and require people to take time off.

Another option are the massive open online courses (MOOC) like Coursera and Udemy, which offer leadership and management classes that are more convenient and cost-effective. Proulx said that these courses are designed to the broadest audience possible, so they don’t offer that much value to people who have already moved up in their careers.

Redshift strikes a balance between the two sides of the spectrum, so accessibility doesn’t have to come at the cost of quality, and vice versa.

“This is the right dose of business education for people who are trying to move quickly,” Proulx said. “It meets a spectrum of needs. There will always be people who want the immersive experience of on-campus learning, but we recognize that learning happens in lots of places and is motivated by lots of different needs.”

The program has content on business strategy, sales growth, marketing, project management, management reporting, and leadership development. It costs $40 per student per month, and groups of 20 or more get unlimited access to the courses. People can either take individual courses or the entire processional certificate curriculum.

Redshift also has social features as well as opportunities to video conference with instructors. You take assessments online and Redshift will track all your work and report progress to your employer.

Cornell’s Johnson School of Management has offered executive education for a long time and already works with major companies including GE and Starwood. The online curriculum is designed based on the Cornell’s existing courses, research, and real-world projects posed to its students.

“There isn’t a leading player out there from a top 20 school that is addressing the learning needs of business leaders and can work at a corporate scale,” Proulx said.

When it comes to executive education, brand name recognition still matters and corporations are willing to spend big money to get their people the quality of continuing education possible. Redshift is Cornell’s attempt at saying that the financial and time expenditures don’t have to be quite so high, and in doing so capture a greater part of the corporate education pie.

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