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COVID-19’s Effect on Executive Education: Maryland Smith Experts Weigh in

Aug 21, 2020

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Campus shutdowns across the United States at the mid-March onset of the coronavirus pandemic included a shutdown of executive education open enrollment and custom programs delivered on campus.

The shutdown was on both sides. For clients, the prioritization of training was reconfigured. The immediate response of companies was focused on the safety and health of the employees, as employers locked down to figure out what to do in going forward, said Chris Thompson, executive director of Executive Development Programs at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business during a recent panel discussion among executive education leaders.

Joe Perfetti, a Maryland Smith lecturer in equity analysis, moderated the discussion in a recent edition of his “Office Hours” YouTube series. Joining him and Thompson: Greg Marchi, assistant dean for Executive Education at Texas A&M, and Dave Heckman, who recently directed senior executive programs for the Wharton School of Business.

They discussed and identified positives in a subsequent, slow shift to virtual programming that’s ensued in the executive education industry. “We’re getting good at using digital platforms, because we have to,” said Thompson, adding that Maryland Smith faculty have been increasingly agile with digital platforms and subsequently more adaptable to needs and requests that vary client to client in the custom programs.

Besides the delivery aspect, clients’ topical needs have shifted as well. The panel discussed how “forward-thinking clients” are asking for topics around adaptability, resiliency and strategy in dynamic and changing environments. The experts further discussed how emotional intelligence is increasingly prioritized by clients who serve more customers – some not tech-savvy – in virtual environments by necessity in such fields as healthcare and banking.

Perfetti, from an anecdotal perspective, said clients shifting from in-person to virtual programs have discovered an extra benefit in that it’s a way to keep workers connected and motivated.

For the whole discussion, go to: Executive Education in a COVID-19 World.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

Robert H. Smith School of Business