Executive education: 2015’s top priority

Now is the time to invest in senior executive talent, says one academic, rather than opting for a slash and burn approach.

According to Professor Ian Williamson of Melbourne Business School (MBS), cost-cutting is the wrong approach for HR executives to be taking when it comes to finding, keeping and training the right people.

Williamson claims that smart organisations with true asset orientation think long and hard about return when looking into hiring and developing staff.

“If you’re focused on return, you never think about cost-cutting,” he told HRD magazine. “You spend as much as you possibly can, given a certain return.”

Learning to lead beyond your strengths

Williamson teaches executives on his program at MBS the ability to handle a wide range of situations, including the unfamiliar.

“Everybody in our Senior Executive MBA comes to us with a solid foundation in a functional area,” he said. “Our challenge is to help them develop into leaders, who can utilise their experience and call on others to help them make better executive decisions.”

“The characteristic of a team leader is the ability to understand how and when different areas of expertise are relevant to a business problem,” he added.

2015 growth opportunities

Williamson is also director of the Asia Pacific Social Impact Leadership Centre at MBS.

He says that developing senior executives is particularly important for companies looking to exploit two of this year’s biggest growth opportunities: productivity through innovation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market.

“Firms that can get more out of the knowledge, skills base and relationships that their workforce possesses will be the most successful,” Williamson said. “And the way to do that is through innovation, whether that’s new products, business processes or ways of engaging or partnering.”

He also warned leaders that now is the time to recognise the value of the emerging Asian market.

“Many organisations will miss out on the ASEAN opportunity because they don’t have the capability to engage with such diverse cultures, or create a global strategy, or develop their people to become comfortable working with partners in the region.”

Support network

Williamson told HRD that one of the most important aspects of formal learning opportunities is the support network on offer.

“The time spent with faculty and class peers is really important for building a support network,” he said. “That’s essential because you need support to unlearn and relearn if you want to change your way of thinking and your organisation.”

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