The UW Marching Band plays a familiar tune as graduates of a recent professional development course stand swaying, arm-in-arm, to the time-honored song, “Varsity.”
The custom program, developed by the Center for Professional and Executive Development (CPED), trained managers and company leaders from US LBM Holdings, LLC, a Wisconsin-based national lumber and building materials distributor. The program, which ran from October 2013 to June 2014, focused on improving processes to make the company more competitive. Although the program lasted less than a year, the group earned a commencement ceremony fit for a group of graduating Badgers.
“You can’t separate that nostalgic feeling from the education our partners receive,” says Malcolm Jeffris, senior director of custom learning solutions, as he proudly displays the graduation celebration on his phone.
CPED, which is part of the Wisconsin School of Business, offers a variety of options for working professionals. From individual courses and certificate programs in Madison to on-site training at individual organizations, the possibilities are endless. Custom programs allow companies and other organizations to receive curriculum and training completely tailored to their needs.
Scott Converse teaches US LBM employees ways to improve business processes.
Earlier this year, US LBM partnered with CPED to create a custom Lean Six Sigma program to improve business processes—including operations and customer service—within the family of companies. Scott Converse, a faculty member at the Wisconsin School of Business and former IT director in the software industry, taught the program courses.
A recent graduate of the Lean Six Sigma program, Dan DiGerolamo, explained that he had begun process improvement, but never used the analytic precision that Converse taught.
“I have a new found respect for Lean Six Sigma,” said DiGerolamo, who is the IT manager for Universal Supply Company, a subsidiary of US LBM. “I didn’t know much about it when we first came here, but now I understand just how powerful putting scientific knowledge behind process improvement can be.”
Course participants, including DiGerolamo, were impressed by Converse’s ability to take a complex subject and make it into an engaging, interactive, and easy-to-understand experience.
“Scott is by far one of the best instructors I’ve ever encountered,” DiGerolamo said. “His enthusiasm and knowledge for the subject is unbelievable.”
According to Jeffris, even one custom program can provide a significant return on investment.
“With just one program like this, an organization can potentially save millions,” Jeffris said. “We’re also showing these managers and company leaders how to save money on a repeat basis.”
Helping companies and organizations become more competitive is just part of what CPED has set out to do with its custom programs. According to Jeffris, the Wisconsin Idea—a mission of the University of Wisconsin System that aims to improve people’s lives beyond the walls of a university—is a crucial component of the custom programs experience.
The Center furthers the Wisconsin Idea by helping Wisconsin-based, national, and international companies with business challenges and training needs. Currently, one of the Center’s biggest clients is Discover Financial Services. Discover worked with CPED to develop a 15-month-long program to train employees, managers, and leaders in business operations and leadership skills, all in the company’s Shanghai office.
Employees of Discover's Shanghai office gain leadership knowledge through interactive activities.
“Global organizations like Discover Financial have found that professional and executive development from CPED offers more than just a heartland value,” Jeffris said. “It provides results-driven, real-world education that’s on par with bigger brand names.”
To learn more about CPED’s custom programs and other success stories, please visit their website.