The Case for Executive Education

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You're a senior executive at a credit union. You've been around for years, and know your credit union inside and out. The same holds true for your market. So why bother with continuing executive education?

According to Fred Johnson, the CEO of the Credit Unions Executives Society (CUES), the answer is simple. "If you want to keep up, you can never stop learning," says Johnson. "The technology has changed so much in the past few years, if you don't continue your education, you get out of step with the rest of your credit union.

You sit in meetings and you don't know what they're taking about."

Johnson claims that the rapidly changing business landscape is fueling an increase in executive education across all industries. He adds that at Wharton - one of the CUES education partners - executive education is the fastest growing segment of their operation. "Executives have reached the point," says Johnson, "that they're saying, 'I've been out of school for some time. If I don't go back, I won't be able to keep up.'"

With state leagues, trade organizations and private enterprises all offering a wide range of educational opportunities, the question then becomes one of selection. Again Johnson suggests that the simple approach is the best: Look for the programs that are going to give you specifically what you need.

Johnson notes that CUES makes a point to partner with some of the most prestigious and respected educational institutions in the world, including Harvard, Oxford, Dartmouth and Cornell, among others. He adds that often, credit union employees have not been exposed to this caliber of education. "I've had people tell me that these programs have literally changed their lives," adds Johnson.

While executive education is paramount, credit unions shouldn't overlook continuing education for their directors. "We're starting to see younger directors," says Johnson, "who realize that not only will these courses help them in their credit union duties; they'll also look pretty impressive on a r?sum?."

With virtually all credit unions tightening their collective belt, the cost of executive education does become a factor. Credit unions obviously can't overspend on such programs. However, in the end, Johnson claims that you really do get what you pay for.

Although he doesn't take credit for the quote, Johnson concludes, "In the future, the only sustainable competitive advantage an organization may have is its ability to learn faster than anyone else."

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