With Brooks Sports Inc. on the rise again, Chief Executive Officer Jim Weber, T'86, was looking for a way to help groom one of the company's rising young executives, David Bohan. One of the bestselling brands of running shoes during the jogging-crazed 1970s, Brooks fell on hard times in the 1980s before enjoying a recent resurgence that has helped grow revenues at 20 percent annually to about $400 million. To sustain growth at the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unit in the years ahead, Weber saw a need to develop the company's top talent—and decided the Tuck Executive Program (TEP) was the best way to do that.
"David was in the COO spot and with our rapid growth he'd been playing much more of a lead business role," says Weber. "I wanted to give him an opportunity to build out his leadership toolkit as well as get a refresher on business topics. He came back wide-eyed. He really progressed as a much more self-aware and situationally-aware leader."
Weber is just one of a growing number of alumni of Tuck's MBA program to sponsor colleagues to TEP, Tuck's flagship executive education offering. In the last five years, Tuck MBA alumni have referred more than 25 participants to the program.
TEP is intensive. Its rigorous curriculum immerses senior managers in a broad, strategic general management experience with an emphasis on their personal leadership transformation. TEP is the only elite program that lasts three weeks, as noted in a Wall Street Journal survey of advanced management programs at top business schools.
"Every business needs a strong pipeline of leaders who are ready to step up," says Sydney Finkelstein, faculty director of TEP, and new associate dean of executive education. "For these up-and-coming leaders, it's not only about being aware of what is changing around them; it's about stepping up to do something about it. TEP gives them the tools to do it."
Brooks Bohan, now the president and chief operating officer of the Bothell, Wash.-based company, says one of the program's greatest assets was the global diversity and peer interaction with other top-flight executives. "We all bring different perspectives to business so it is a very strong learning experience of understanding what challenges they run into in their business as well as the challenges I run into in mine," he says.
Fast-growing industrial and filter paper manufacturer Hollingsworth & Vose and its CEO Val Hollingsworth, T'83, have sent four executives through TEP in the last two years from Asia, the U.S. and Europe. "They were people moving up in positions of a lot of responsibility and it's given them a chance to step back and think and benefit from working with Tuck MBA faculty while rubbing shoulders with peers from around the globe," says Hollingsworth. "These are investments in people that are important and it's a great way to send a signal to them that we value them and want to invest in them."
Among those Hollingsworth has sent is China-born John Zhang, 48, chief of the company's Asia-Pacific operations. Zhang says he had traditionally viewed his job as that of a firefighter who comes in and resolves crises—often by being a directive, top-down leader. During TEP, Zhang says he learned how to use more supportive management techniques and draw on the ideas of other team-members, a strategy that has already yielded benefits.
"The senior managers I've sent to Tuck's executive education programs over the years have returned as better strategic leaders and better thinkers," said Mark Byrne, T'86, the founder and former chairman of insurance company Flagstone Re. "I'm amazed how well Tuck's essential nature—the one I experienced and value so much—has been translated into such transformative experiences for executives."
Tuck Executive Education is all about expanding executive capability, helping to transform high-performing individual leaders so they can drive organizational transformation. For alumni who believe their colleagues or direct reports could benefit from Tuck's approach to developing strategic leaders, TEP is one way to give them the tools they need to succeed at the next level. For more information on TEP, contact Kathy Little, Client Relations Manager. Tel: +1-603-646-3722. Email: kathleen.b.little@Tuck.Dartmouth.edu