By Matthew Biddle
In fall 2020, Bryan Falitico began a new role with Graham Corp., a global designer and manufacturer of equipment for a variety of industries.
As global project manager, Falitico administers the company’s fabrication and welding subcontracts—everything from identifying and negotiating with suppliers, defining the scope, overseeing the budget and timeline, and closing out the project.
To develop new skills for his role, Falitico turned to the School of Management’s Project Management certificate program. The 12-week, online course provides students with deep exposure to critical project management topics and the creative problem-solving process.
“This program has been some of the most valuable training of my career,” Falitico says. “The instructor made these skills easily relatable and transferable to real-world projects, and challenged each of us to break out of our comfort zones to open up opportunities.”
For Falitico, some of the most valuable takeaways were templates and tools he could put to use immediately: a kickoff meeting agenda, ways to identify key stakeholders, software to facilitate team brainstorming, and more.
“At any given time, I’m working with six or seven departments, so I need to make those meetings as effective as possible,” Falitico says. “As an organization, we’re building our processes from the ground up, so this program has been a godsend.”
In today’s fast-paced business world, professionals must constantly adapt to new technologies, industries and roles—or risk being left behind. In a 2021 survey by Deloitte, executives identified “the ability of their people to adapt, reskill and assume new roles” as the top factor in navigating future disruptions. To build those capabilities, 41% of leaders plan to invest in upskilling, reskilling and mobility.
“COVID has increased the need for employees to be nimble and resilient,” says Courtney Walsh, assistant dean for executive and professional development in the School of Management. “Employers expect their staff to take on additional training on their own. As a result, our open enrollment programs are now delivered remotely, building in interactivity and flexibility for working professionals.”
With demand for professional development surging, the School of Management offers a growing selection of non-credit-bearing programs for individuals to improve their managerial skills and develop competencies in such areas as data analytics, social media and supply chains. Meanwhile, for organizations, the school delivers custom programs that target their most pressing challenges.
At Aurubis, a German manufacturer, James Ricotta spends his workday gathering data and generating reports and tools to analyze it. He wanted to be more efficient and find new ways to present information—without burdening his hectic schedule. Enter the school’s self-paced Introduction to Data Modeling using Excel program, which allowed him to watch course material and complete assignments at his convenience.
“Through the class, I realized how little I was taking advantage of the options available with pivot tables,” says Ricotta, manager, IS applications at Aurubis. “We’ve been able to make the user experience much better with some simple tweaks to what we’re doing.”
In Canandaigua, Doyle Pruitt is a licensed clinical social worker with a PhD from UB, who’s currently expanding her longstanding private practice into a small business. The new company, Finger Lakes Therapy LCSW PLLC, will contract with other professionals to provide individual and family therapy, psychoeducation, community education and other services.
To do so, she needed new skills in her repertoire, but didn’t feel a full-fledged academic program was quite right for her busy life or business goals. Instead, the School of Management’s online Mini MBA certificate program was the perfect fit, covering only relevant topics—like marketing, budgeting and strategic planning—in an asynchronous format that fit her schedule.
“Through the mini MBA, I worked with an expert on a new website, which had an immediate impact on my business,” Pruitt says. “Creating a business plan was also a challenging but valuable activity. It forced me to think about and articulate my business in a different way, which I believe improved its direction and will increase the funding I receive.”
To help organizations build workforce capacity, the School of Management develops custom programs that can be delivered on site or remotely.
Monofrax is a 72-year-old premium manufacturer of fused cast refractories for the glass industry, with annual revenues of more than $25 million. Before the pandemic, company leaders met with School of Management faculty and staff, hoping to address two key issues: identifying new strategic opportunities and improving negotiation skills ahead of talks over a new union contract.
The result was a pair of workshops that allowed Monofrax employees to gain hands-on practice, ask questions and apply what they learned.
“Our former owners had a 26-week strike as a result of the last union negotiations,” says William Andrews, CEL ’20, president and CEO of Monofrax. “But this time, after the training, we met with union leaders over a few days and agreed on a new four-year contract. The talks were productive and focused, without any contention or animosity.”
Best of all, the sessions kick-started a company initiative to upskill its employees for whatever the future holds.
“We have started what we call ‘Monofrax U,’ which allows us to train our next generation of leaders and helps us all communicate and listen better,” Andrews says. “This was a key piece in the plan, and we will definitely be talking to the School of Management about additional training.”