School News

Flexible, Personalized, Actionable: Inside Michigan Ross Executive Education’s First Online Credential Program

By Bridget Vis

Launched in May 2021, the Accelerated Management Development Certificate Program is the first online executive education program offered by the Ross School of Business that allows participants to earn a certificate of merit.

The six-month program is designed to be a comprehensive online learning experience for high-potential, mid-career business professionals looking to move into more senior leadership positions, along with those who want to learn or refresh their business acumen. Participants who successfully complete the program receive a badge for each course and a digital certificate to include on their virtual CV.  

Michigan Ross recently celebrated the graduation of its first cohort of AMDC Program participants. It included individuals from various professional backgrounds and careers, including software engineers, attorneys, supply chain managers, researchers, and designers.

Delivering flexibility, personalization, and actionable insights, the program combines self-paced and live online sessions — taught by Michigan Ross faculty experts — with rigorous coursework and real-world cases, a vibrant peer community, and an assurance of learning. It features four interdisciplinary courses, which lay the foundation for how to handle management challenges; and specialty courses in digital transformation, diversity and inclusion, and managing the future of work, for participants to personalize their learning experiences. The program requires participants to complete exams, quizzes, assignments, and projects in order to progress through the courses. 

As the top-ranked U.S.-based provider of open enrollment programs, Michigan Ross is applying its experience and expertise in executive education innovation to online learning through the AMDC Program.

“We decided to launch the AMDC Program after listening to the marketplace,” said Melanie Weaver Barnett, chief executive education officer at Michigan Ross. “Customers want more online learning experiences that are meaningful, applicable, and engaging. And they are asking more and more for proof that those who take executive education programs are truly learning and can apply what they have learned. We do that through our assurance-of-learning process.”

Offering foundational business knowledge, testing MBA readiness

The AMDC Program’s self-paced design offers advantages to participants who may be looking to test their readiness for a full MBA degree program. It also is beneficial for professionals in business and non-business fields, such as health care and entertainment, who want to broaden their business perspectives and management skills in order to advance in their career or switch to a new one.

“The AMDC Program helps participants gain the management and leadership skills they need to make a successful career pivot,” said Weaver Barnett. “In addition, not everyone wants to get an MBA degree, or they don’t know if they are ready for one, and our accelerated and flexible online program can teach them that foundational business knowledge or help them decide if they want to pursue a more formal educational offering.” 

What AMDC graduates enjoyed and took away from the program

The first cohort of AMDC program participants had highly positive feedback on the course design, Ross faculty and staff, and ability to immediately apply their learnings in their daily jobs.

Professional development

“Overall, I found a lot of value in the program in terms of my own professional development,” said George Svigos, executive director communications at GM International. “I felt that the online system really suited my somewhat unpredictable work hours, in that it was highly flexible and I could attend to my studies when I had the time to do so. It would have been impossible for me to commit to regular and set hours.”

Svigos said he applied to the program after attending a customized executive learning experience on campus that he found valuable. “As we headed into 2021, I felt that I wanted to expand my knowledge and skills set to help give me different perspectives and a broader range of considerations for decision-making in my role with GM,” he explained. 

Already, Svigos said he has been drawing from his course learnings in several projects he is working on, including optimizing team processes using new technologies, analyzing financial data to help with strategic discussions related to global business expansion, and the professional development of his team.

“I have approximately 50 people in my global team and the program has helped me to focus more on the diversity of my team, building a more inclusive culture, and working with my leadership team to ensure we are making the appropriate investments of time and money in the development of our people,” he said. 

Variety of important business concepts

Fellow AMDC graduate Shanon Muir said she has also been able to apply concepts from the program’s Digital Transformation and Innovation elective into her role as vice president of business and legal affairs at Warner Brothers. “That was a very practical module that has been helpful for me in making information systems decisions,” she said. 

One aspect of the program that Muir said she particularly enjoyed was getting a sampling of a variety of business concepts. 

“I thought the program was well constructed. Each subject was well thought through in terms of presentation, and the faculty was excellent,” she explained. “I think this program was definitely more work than I initially thought it would be, but it was a good challenge and a good experience.”

Actionable insights with tangible benefits

Likewise, Tarek Nahlawi, president of Dipsol of America, said he appreciated the program’s structure. “It was well-balanced, and allowed you to view matters in a new way of thinking, and guide you to understand how to make bold decisions,” he said. 

Being able to do those things was important to Nahlawi, who enrolled in the program to give him a fresh business mindset and new tools to counter workplace changes that were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of what he learned, Nahlawi said he has changed several ways his company does business and that he is seeing positive results from the changes.

“In the past, the top management used to make decisions based on the manager's recommendations, and I changed it,” he explained. “Now the most qualified person or the person who is in charge of the project makes the decisions. This has changed morale positively because now the most qualified person in the room makes the decisions.”

Other changes Nahlawi said were made was to how his company evaluates going into new markets or business opportunities that have helped his sales and marketing teams make more informed decisions, focusing more on individual characteristics and internal interactions when it comes to managing teams, and setting up teams for remote work using best practices for virtual collaboration. 

“These are examples of the changes that I have made which have improved the employee morale and the efficiency of our business, and employees are happy with the changes,” he said. 

Overall, Nahlawi said he was extremely impressed with the quality of the program and its faculty, and the actionable insights he took away from his experience.

This program to me is like having another experienced CEO sitting next to you, guiding you to run the company, without interfering with the day-to-day operation. I would love to attend another Michigan Ross executive education program.

Tarek Nahlawi, president of Dipsol of America

The AMDC program operates semi-annually, with new cohorts beginning in March and September.  The application deadline for the March 2022 cohort is March 10.

Learn more about the Accelerated Management Development Certificate Program