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Businesses back new program

Area businesses have expressed strong interest in a new non-credit leadership certificate program, officials with Continuing Education and Outreach said.

The first session of the weekly course began in January with 20 students.

“It filled before we got the brochures in the mail,” said Jocelyn Thornton, assistant director of noncredit programs. “We really knew then we had hit on something the community needed.”

Participants in the program will assess, develop and apply leadership skills, learn oral presentation skills, develop personal communication strategies, focus on problemsolving and decision-making techniques, discuss business ethics and social responsibility, gain long- and short-term planning skills and expand their networking abilities.

The academic elements of the program are complemented by four site visits that will take the students to Maines Paper and Food Service Inc., BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin Systems Integration and Raymond Corp.

Students include employees of BAE, Raymond, Binghamton University and a variety of other area businesses. They include salespeople, engineers, project managers and even someone who’s already vice president of a company.

“These people would not ordinarily cross paths,” Thornton said.

That’s one of the unusual aspects of this program. Because participants are drawn from Southern Tier companies, the network they build during the course will be local. And, unlike many two-week, intensive programs offered outside the area, this option allows students to continue their regular work schedules.

“It strengthens the community,” Thornton said. “They immediately can identify with what they see.”

She noted that several Tier businesses need to develop a new cadre of leaders to keep pace with rapid grow

"We really are seeing people who will be groomed so they are more highly evolved." ~ Jocelyn Thornton, assistantdirector of noncredit programs
th and are eager to train existing employees who are already familiar with their company’s products as well as the area.

For the most part, the participants’ employers are paying the $1,995 tuition for the institute. Promotions are on the horizon for some students; others may take on new responsibilities after their training is complete.

“We really are seeing people who will be groomed so they are more highly evolved,” Thornton said.

Mark Meier signed up for the class because he recently became sales manager for the family-run Meier Supply Co. He had done outside sales for 15 years and now manages about 35 people.

“I never had a team of people to lead or manage,” Meier said. “Any advice or tips I can get on how to lead or manage people smarter, I’ll take it.”

He said he was especially impressed with the introduction the class received to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality test used by many businesses.

Instructors include corporate trainers, Binghamton University faculty members and leaders from area businesses. Classes meet each Wednesday evening in the Public Service Programs Center.

Bob Stezzi of Binghamtonbased Stezzi Training and Consulting leads the portions of the course focused on communication.

“It’s a pretty eclectic group,” he said. “But we find the leadership challenges that they have are pretty similar.”

He said it’s gratifying and encouraging to work with the students. Stezzi said he focuses on the influence that leaders have over their employees because he feels many managers underestimate that power.

“It’s all about the relationships that you develop and nurture with your people,” he said. “That’s where loyalty, commitment and hard work come from.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08