New skill sets, new technologies, new ways to work with teams: Business professionals have a lot to learn to thrive in these demanding times.
The challenge for Linda Read, who in November was named director of Executive Programs at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, is finding methods to connect those professionals with the training needed to excel.
Consider the challenge accepted.
“I could not be prouder of how we’ve been able to find ways to succeed and continue to help people through the last year,” said Read, who served as the program’s interim director since April 2020. “We’ve stayed engaged with our clients and have new competencies that center around remote management and leadership.”
Read built an extensive career helping professionals master the skills needed to excel and help businesses develop their talent pools. That experience made her an ideal choice to lead the program during this exciting and pivotal period, said Terry College Dean Ben Ayers.
“Linda’s experience with executive education and business development gives her a firm grasp of what professionals need to advance their careers and help their workplaces thrive,” Ayers said. “Her career working in corporate and educational settings makes her a strong fit for propelling our Executive Education programs.”
Because Terry’s Executive Education Program is based in Atlanta, it has a finger on the pulse of the city’s business ecosystem. It offers a portfolio of custom educational programs designed to meet the latest needs of businesses and executives. Certificate and non-degree programs are taught by Terry faculty and industry professionals at the college’s Executive Education Center in Buckhead or client sites.
When Read started her career working with chambers of commerce in the 1980s and ’90s, workforce development was much different than today. Securing a degree or going through one-time training was once all that was required of employees. But today, workers must update their skills throughout their careers.
Read relies on the expertise of the Terry College faculty, who remain at the forefront of organizational science and data analytics. They provide employees and managers with the most up-to-date training in diversity, equity and inclusion, building more data-driven sales teams and teaching tools for remote management.
“Sometimes, people have a perception that academia can be isolated from what happens in the workplace,” Read said. “I enjoy being able to work with the faculty and understand what their research is producing. We want to take the most current research on a topic and give Georgia businesses the advantages that come from that research.”
Terry’s Executive Education offers several popular classes on a revolving basis, but Read and her staff also work with the community and individual businesses to develop customized training programs to meet their daily needs.
“It’s about really listening and saying, ‘OK, I hear that you are having challenges executing your corporate strategy. Here is a leadership program we can offer to help get everybody on the same page.’ Or we can build something specifically for them that was not offered before. We have that expertise, and it allows us to solve problems.”