A new solution for management development in International Organizations
In many international organizations (IOs) its only recently that management has come to be seen as a skill that can be developed and nurtured, and indeed taught. Time was when staff joined as graduates, worked their way up in their respective fields and eventually came to manage the next batch of graduates, typically blissfully ignorant of management training courses or MBA programmes. Management, like parenting, was thought to be something that you just picked up, because if you knew something, well, it stood to reason that you could pass it on, and age conferred wisdom, did it not?
Well yes and no. Some take to it naturally, and some, unfortunately, are promoted beyond their abilities. Relying on staff to be natural managers can be risky and unfair, and difficult to pick up at the interview stage. So how to develop new managers as they advance through their careers? Clearly some type of training course or academic qualification in management is needed, to supplement the subject knowledge and specific skills particular to each field.
But finding the right format can be difficult: taking a sabbatical to do a full time degree is rarely an option, and part-time degrees have their problems too, as they can often drag over four or five years, or come from unaccredited or online universities where the standard of teaching can be suspect. So what options remain to the proactive employee who wants to enhance his or her skills and knowledge, or, for that matter, their managers, who wish to develop their professional staff?
An exciting and unique course has just been launched by the University of Geneva that fits the bill: the Management Development Certificate (the Certificate). Drawing on the framework of its International Organizations MBA programme: (www.iomba.ch) , the University has designed a nine-month course with a modular structure that is compatible with full-time employment. Teaching takes place in half-days during the week, or on Saturdays. Participants choose six courses from 14 on offer, on subjects as diverse as corporate resource planning; management, motivation and performance; institutions and social responsibility; or international relations.
But what can managers in the international sector learn from the business world, if anything? We asked this question to Professor Pierre Allan, Dean of the University of Genevas Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, which runs the Certificate programme and the related International Organizations MBA (IOMBA): They can learn a lot. We are well aware of all the criticism that has been addressed to these organizations, and the fact that some of the staff are chosen primarily because of political considerations. So having first of all the experience and the credibility that going through a recognized MBA or certificate programme provides is a clear advantage; secondly the business world has greater access to the latest research in, for instance, change management or business strategy, which could be put to good use in the world of IOs. Of course the business world can also learn from the international world at the political level, or in terms of communications and of course in terms of ethics and making a better world. In other words, there is a lot to be gained by having both worlds talk to each other.
The Certificate has already generated interest among HR directors and learning managers in the Geneva region, one of whom, Maria Hutchinson, Chief, Staff Development and Learning Section (SDLS) in the United Nations, told us that the University of Genevas Certificate programme seems to be an excellent response to the current needs and interests of many full-time employees of international organizations. It is particularly interesting in that it combines a wide range of course offerings within a manageable time- frame for those who want to obtain a management certification without taking a break in employment.
Kurt Jenni, Director of HR at the World Conservation Union, echoed these sentiments:
I welcome the new Certificate programme offered by the University of Geneva. It enables people who have reached a crucial stage in their career to either catch up with higher education opportunities missed in the past, or to refresh their minds with the latest thinking on a number of topics. IUCN will certainly take advantage of this new, innovative management development tool.
The number of places in the pioneering 2004/2005 class will be limited to 10-15, depending on course selection. Interest in the programme is already very high, and a very high-calibre intake is expected, but unlike for the IOMBA, the GMAT and TOEFL exams are not prerequisites; however a prior university degree and some professional experience are preferred.