Rutgers Center for Management Development poised to grow with renewed support from two partner schools

With Rutgers Business School and the School of Management and Labor Relations putting renewed and stronger support behind the center, Executive Director William Castellano is hoping it can become a bigger player in the competitive, growing market for executive education.

Castellano, a former corporate human resources executive turned educator, took over as executive director of the Rutgers Center for Management Development in May after serving as interim director for eight months.

The center plays a unique role within Rutgers, offering niche programs to busy professionals and executives who want to learn more about specific areas – analytics and new management practices, for instance – without having to invest in an additional academic degree.

The center’s current programs range from intense, week-long Mini-MBA programs in finance, biopharma entrepreneurship and digital marketing to workshop programs in leadership development and employment law.  

Castellano recently talked about his vision for the center, prospective programs and the effort he is making to identify faculty expertise in new areas like big data.   

Q: Tell us about your vision for executive education at Rutgers?

A: “We’ve always reported up through RBS and the School of Management and Labor Relations. What’s exciting for me and, I think, the center is the commitment of both of those schools to support executive education. We have fantastic faculty in both schools that currently teach for us in various programs, but I think there’s a lot more opportunity for us to develop even stronger relationships with even more faculty. There are two benefits to that: There’s the benefit of certainly using the expertise that would be of interest to our corporate clients or individuals who attend our programs, but it’s also leveraging the relationships faculty members have with their own clients from a marketing perspective. To the extent that we can develop stronger relationships within both schools, it’s a win-win.

William Castellano“It’s a great opportunity for the faculty. It gives them another avenue to highlight their own research and to develop relationships with organizations. We are in a unique position to be able to market what’s going on within our schools that would be of interest to individuals seeking to continue their education professionally either at the managerial or at the executive level. It’s really developing those relationships and coming up with a stronger brand. RBS has a great reputation and it’s well known in the business community so for us to be part of that and to highlight the fact that we’re using RBS faculty and then, simultaneously, that we’re branding it as a RBS executive program, I think it will really open up some new doors for us.”

Q: What are you doing to forge and, in other cases, strengthen relationships with the faculty?

A: “Right now, we are looking at all of our programs. And we look at our programs from two perspectives, from a market research perspective and what do we see out there as a hot area that seems to be of interest to people seeking to come back into a managerial or an executive education environment. And then looking at our faculty to say, well, here’s what we see, we think a program using big data is hot or there seems to be a growing interest in providing business acumen skills to people who are in non-business occupations, let’s investigate who we can partner with to develop a new program or to enhance a current program to meet that particular market need. That’s one avenue.

The other avenue is just to network in as many possible ways as we can to find out what’s going on with the faculty.  I’ve been very pleased with (Rutgers Business School Dean) Glenn Shafer’s involvement in getting me to be active in the staff meetings or to be active with some of the centers that exist within RBS and their advisory boards so I can get an understanding of who’s who and understanding what some people are doing. There are some interesting task forces right now that RBS has formed as part of a strategic planning effort and we’re getting involved in that to see how CMD can become part of the strategic plan."

Q: Why has executive education become so important?

A: “There’s a strong interest across many universities to forge relationships with business organizations. Executive education is a great platform for partnering with businesses that would like to send their executives or managers to a program to provide them with the competencies necessary to be successful. Those relationships then have a lot of other benefits for a university. These are the same companies that would hire our students. These are companies that would, perhaps, even engage our faculty to do research so there’s a strong branding component. It’s hard to position yourself as a professional school without having a robust executive education function.”

Q: Why do managers and executives choose to attend a CMD program rather than go through a traditional MBA program or an Executive MBA program?

A: “Many people already have a graduate degree and may find it unnecessary to commit to another detailed or longer program. These are short-term programs. A typical program at the center would last five days. Sometimes we will have a program over five consecutive days or we would have one-day modules spread out over a longer period of time.

“It’s very convenient for people to take these kinds of programs. They’re of shorter duration and they’re also very specific. We’re not involved with any other material other than the topic of interest whereas for a degree program, they’re trying to provide you with an array of competencies. The benefit of an executive education program is people come here because they’re interested in a very specific topic whether it is digital marketing or social media or data analytics. They’re looking for a very short but deep dive in an area that they feel is an evolving area so the timing is important.

“Again, a perfect example of that would be our digital marketing program. For years, we’ve had marketing programs and they weren’t growing very rapidly, but as soon as we introduced this new program called digital marketing or social media marketing, it attracted people who were marketing professionals realizing that, wow, this is a new area and even though I’ve been in marketing for 20 years I don’t really know that much about using digital marketing techniques. That’s an example of why someone would come to a program. It’s a very specific program that’s meeting a very specific need.”

Q: What is the advantage to the center in being linked to both Rutgers Business School and the School of Management and Labor Relations?

A: “It benefits us because we have two outstanding faculties that have a very broad research interests. On the SMLR side, there are faculty members who are very specific to strategic human resource management and individuals who are really focused on organizational behavior and leadership so we have programs that are very specific to the School of Management and Labor Relations because of their unique research expertise. There are equally specific research streams that you see coming out of RBS in the finance area, which we market through our Mini-MBA platform.

“There are other situations where it really benefits bringing faculties from both schools together in a traditional management development program or a traditional executive education program. We would bring somebody from RBS, perhaps, looking at the business function areas, the analytic areas, the computer technology area and we would bring someone from SMLR looking at it from a strategic HR or a people management perspective and together, it could be a very deep program that would be very attractive."

Executives who pursue training and classes through the Center for Management Development are often looking for a short, deep dive into a trending top like Big Data.

Q: A few years back, you pushed for an undergraduate degree in human resources management and it proved to be a huge success. Can you tell us about how that came about?

A: “It was probably the fastest-growing major at Rutgers University. We had an outstanding reputation in strategic HR management through our graduate program. Arguably, Rutgers is one of the top graduate strategic HR management programs in the world. We have probably the most cited faculty in that space, so a very successful, long-term graduate program. For me, it made sense to leverage that expertise and offer an undergraduate program. The question we were asking was would there be a demand for an undergrad program in HR management.

“One of the reasons why the demand was so high is because it quickly became the next best alternative to a business degree. Clearly, some students who come into Rutgers who initially have an interest in going into the Rutgers Business School aren’t able to make it. They may find the curriculum too challenging or too analytical. Many of those students look for an alternative major and before this human resource management degree, there really weren’t many options.

 “The major is still growing. In two years we went from zero majors to now, we’re about 600. Our minors went from zero to about 300. The other target audience is people who, perhaps, started in psychology or sociology and when they found out about HR management, they thought this could be a major or a minor that would complement that field. The fact that HR management is a multi-disciplinary field enables it to draw a wider audience of students who come into Rutgers with a variety of different interests, and it’s an area where they’re finding jobs."

Q: Are there any new programs that you expect to introduce soon that you can discuss?

A: “We’re very excited about this trend that’s called Big Data. Every market research study that I’ve seen suggests there’s this growing need for any individual to have a stronger, quantitative, analytical skill set whether it’s work force analytics or whether it’s using data analytic techniques for market research, strategic planning and forecasting.

“With the continuing digitalization of the world, there is so much data and now, a real competitive, differentiating factor for many organizations is what are you doing with that data and how do you turn it into information and turn that information into knowledge. I know there are faculty members in RBS who specialize in Big Data and analytics. We have some faculty from SMLR who have a strong competence in workforce analytics. That could be a fantastic partnership and a very good program.

“We are talking to RBS and SMLR faculty and we’re developing a preliminary outline of a program that we think we can offer, so that’s where the partnership really comes in. Here’s a perfect example, we know there’s a need for this and we know many of our competitors are offering programs so it’s imperative for us to develop something in that space.

“And just like we brought marketing into the 21st century, we need to bring some of our management, generally, and our leadership programs into the 21st Century. There’s a need, I think, for anybody who is involved in management or leadership to have a stronger understanding of how technology is transforming the workplace and how they use it to manage and lead organizations.

"It's important," Castellano said of the Rutgers Center for Management Development, "for us to offer something that's unique."

“There’s somewhat of an overlap with Big Data. It’s very hard to be a 21st Century manager or leader and not have some competency in analytics. Many of the measures that organizations use are much more sophisticated today. Not only do we have a lot more data, we have a lot more tools to analyze that data and the ability to use the results of the analysis to make management decisions. That’s a real interesting area for us to look at for programs that we already have and to incorporate new modules and develop relationships with new faculty who have an interest in these areas so we can redesign the programs and then market them.

“For us, it’s always looking at what do we need to do to keep our program offerings up to date and relevant. The challenge for us is there are so many other alternatives that corporations and individuals have for learning, more so today than ever before. You can sign up for a webinar. You can download information on almost any topic you can imagine. It’s important for us to offer something that’s unique.

“Again, building our brand by partnering with our faculty and leveraging our research is the way to do that, but also to make sure that what we’re doing meets the current needs of the marketplace.”

-Susan Todd

TAGS: Center for Management Development Digital Marketing Executive Education Glenn Shafer Mini-MBA