sealPurdue News

February 22, 2002

Specialized management education programs gain favor

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University executive education expert says despite the recession, demand is strong for executive education tailored to the needs of specific companies.

"Niche programs sell," says Michael Sheahan, associate director of Krannert Executive Education Programs. "We recently set up a customized program here for 22 local Caterpillar engine plant managers that we could tailor to the company's needs in the context of its industry."

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Management at Cat initiated the program. In turn, Caterpillar, along with the local laboratories of Eli Lilly and Co. and Industrial Dielectrics Inc. in Noblesville, Ind., provided initial support for the inaugural series of business and management classes.

Sheahan describes the Executive Management Certificate (EMC) Program of 90 hours of in-class instruction as a "mini MBA." The first class will graduate Tuesday (2/26).

"Like our regular MBA, we use the case-study method in our specialized executive classes," Sheahan says. "But rather than Harvard cases, our instructors may use a Wall Street Journal article on one of Caterpillar's competitors as a starting point, provide further information and show how it relates to more general management and business principles."

Before the classes started, Caterpillar was involved with setting up a curriculum that the company identified as critical to its executive management development. The final curriculum included:

— Micro and macroeconomics,

— Managerial accounting and financial management,

— Human resource management,

— Marketing management and

— Global strategic management.

Judy M. Potts, Caterpillar's workplace development manager of human resources at the company's large engine center in Lafayette, Ind., was involved in setting up the EMC program with the Krannert School. She's also a student in the program.

"At Caterpillar, lifelong education is part of the fabric of the company," she says. "For the EMC program, we looked for high-potential candidates from different disciplines and departments and from a variety of educational backgrounds on the management team. Our goal is a more well-rounded management team."

There have been other benefits that Cat hadn't foreseen, she says. "There's been team building because there is no company hierarchy in the classroom. It's a level playing field."

Because the plant is located in Lafayette, just across the river from Purdue's West Lafayette campus, all of the in-class instruction has been face-to-face.

"That's appropriate," Sheahan says, "because management is a people-to-people activity, so management education should be people-to-people, too."

Some of Krannert's other specialized executive programs, such as its Engineering/Management and Applied Management Principles certificate programs, do include online work in conjunction with classroom instruction, Sheahan says.

Engineering/Management is a one-week campus program designed for experienced scientists, engineers and other technically trained people who want to add to their management skills. Applied Management Principles is a two-week campus management program for doctoral-level scientists and engineers from both academic and industrial settings.

Plans are to take these programs to Purdue's regional campuses, Indianapolis and Chicago through a mixture of classroom instruction and distance-learning technologies, Sheahan says.

The second class of the Executive Management Certificate Program starts May 7. Interested students and companies can contact Sheahan at (765) 494-7700,

Writer: J.M. Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: Michael Sheahan, (765) 494-7700,

Judy M. Potts, (765) 448-5813,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web site:
Krannert Executive Education non-degree programs

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of Michael Sheahan is available at

Judy Potts, manager of human resources at Caterpillar's large engine center in Lafayette, Ind., also is a student in the Krannert School Executive Education Program, which offers "mini MBAs" to Lafayette companies. With her is David Schoorman, a Krannert School professor who teaches human resources management in the Executive Management Certificate Program. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at

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