Executive Education Partnership with the DeGroote School of Business

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1 Canadian Chamber Competition 2013 Connecting with Educators on the Skills Gap Executive Education Partnership with the DeGroote School of Business Submitting Chamber: The Burlington Chamber of Commerce Contact Person: Keith Hoey, President Telephone: ext

2 Canadian Chamber Competition 2013 Connecting with Educators on the Skills Gap Submitted by The Burlington Chamber of Commerce Executive Education Partnership with the DeGroote School of Business Executive Summary Education has always been one of the three key mandates of the Chamber (networking, education, and advocacy). As part of the Burlington Chamber's most recent strategic plan, we identified the need to develop education partnerships so that we could provide the best business education possible to our members. To meet this strategic objective, the Burlington Chamber created a formal partnership with McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business (DeGroote). DeGroote is an internationally recognized provider of premier business education and is the perfect executive education partner. Clearly, DeGroote is an expert at providing the education that businesses need to develop their management teams. In the partnership, the Chamber provides marketing of DeGroote s Executive Education programing to the business community (something we are very good at) and DeGroote provides the education curriculum and speakers. Additionally, the Chamber provides advice to DeGroote on the type of courses needed by the Burlington business community based on feedback from our members. Another benefit Chamber members receive is a $100 discount on any DeGroote Executive Education programs they attend. Project Origin During the Burlington Chamber s annual strategic plan update and review, education was identified as one of our five key objectives for the next three years (the others being advocacy, brand, membership, and governance). While education has always been a mandate of the Chamber, in the short term we wanted to improve our suite of education offerings to our members and how we delivered those offerings. We recognized that, while the Chamber is quite good at coordinating education, there are others in the community who are experts at providing education. Within our education objective, five tactics were identified. One of these tactics was Develop education partnerships. The McMaster University DeGroote School of Business was newly established in Burlington (as a side note, as a member of the Mayor s Post Secondary Task Force, the Burlington Chamber President was directly involved in bringing McMaster University to Burlington).

3 The Chamber approached DeGroote to discuss ways that DeGroote and the Chamber could work together to provide world class education opportunities to businesses in Burlington. DeGroote was eager to work with the Chamber to help grow their audience of potential students. To meet our new education partnership objective, the Burlington Chamber created a formal partnership with the DeGroote School of Business. This partnership spelled out who does what (DeGroote provides the education; the Chamber provides the marketing and topic advice). Project Parameters Professional business education is an effective tool to help individuals develop and businesses grow. The Chamber has always been a source of business education through Lunch & Learn seminars and specialized workshops. However, we recognize that others are more qualified to provide the highest quality business education needed by our members. Essentially, the partnership is structured on the inherent strengths of the two partners: the Chamber provides the communications and the marketing, DeGroote provides the curriculum and speakers. The curriculum is business based with a focus on executives. Current course titles include: Aligning Marketing & Sales for Growth, Social Media Boot Camp, and, Corporate Branding & Reputation Management. As part of the partnership agreement, the Chamber provides advice to DeGroote on the type of courses needed by the Burlington business community. It is important to note that sales, marketing and social media were the most requested seminar topics in a recent chamber member survey (i.e. the September 2013 courses listed above). The Chamber shared these survey results with DeGroote so they could make sure the topics they were providing were aligned with the needs of the business community. The Chamber also gives feedback on course pricing and program marketing. Another benefit received by Chamber members is a $100 discount on any DeGroote Executive Education programs they attend. All DeGroote Executive Education courses are now listed on the Chamber's website on the online events calendar (these are the only non chamber events to be listed on our calendar). We promote the courses through our online (weekly enews) and printed (Chamber magazine) communication vehicles. Project Results and Impacts Many Chamber members have taken part in the lectures at the university. Unfortunately, some do not register as Chamber members so a direct count of members making use of the Executive Education program is not possible. However, it s clear that DeGroote has become the executive educator of choice in Burlington particularly for many large companies, largely because of the promotion of their lectures by the Chamber.

4 Having the DeGroote courses listed on the Chamber online event calendar has increased traffic to the Chamber s website (and, of course, to DeGroote s). An indirect benefit to the Chamber is that with the average user visiting 3.2 pages per visit, these visitors are learning more about the Chamber even though they visited the website to learn about DeGroote courses. DeGroote has seen an increase in their course registrations. One of our members (the largest employer in Burlington) has said "we now use DeGroote for all our management training." This employer became aware of the executive education lectures because of the Chamber promoting the courses. Many of our members have told us that attending the Executive Education seminars at DeGroote also provides excellent networking opportunities. Both DeGroote and the Chamber now have higher community profiles because of the Executive Education partnership. Project Transferability Once the program was launched successfully in Burlington, we advised DeGroote that the program could and should be promoted in other neighbouring communities through their Chambers of Commerce. This would provide for a larger market of businesses from which to draw potential students. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce has since initiated and continues to run the program for its members. Developing a similar program in any community with a post secondary institution would be extremely easy. There is virtually no cost to implement the program since most of what the Chamber does is promote the education program in its own existing communication vehicles. The post secondary institutions would come on board very easily since there is little work form them and they will see the benefit of more people attending (and paying for) their lectures. Self Promotion Early on in the relationship, the Chamber hosted a Small Business Week Breakfast event (the first business event held at the new DeGroote building). The guest speaker was the Dean of the School of Business. The purpose of the event was to promote both organizations as well as promote the Executive Education Partnership program. The attendance was the largest ever for our Chamber s annual Small Business Week Breakfast event. The DeGroote School of Business has hosted several Chamber networking events on site to promote use of their facility and the partnership program. All of these events have been well attended and have helped to introduce DeGroote to the Burlington business community.

5 The Chamber has improved how it is perceived in the community from being more than just an education provider to being an education partner for the business community. It is not uncommon for the Chamber to be the first point of contact for DeGroote; we are often asked by our members Who do I talk with at DeGroote about.? Our partnership with DeGroote has increased their profile in the community (this is very important to them since DeGroote just moved to Burlington from Hamilton) and the Chamber's profile as a leading business education provider for our members.

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