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USC Marshall Executive Education Launches Women’s Executive Program Certificate in Collaboration with BTS USA, Inc.

Monday, September 16, 2019 | Category :
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Partnership Yields Unique Approach to ‘Accelerating Women Executives’

LOS ANGELES – September 16, 2019 – The USC Marshall School of Business in partnership with BTS USA, Inc, a global professional services organization dedicated to making strategy personal, announced the launch of a unique program to accelerate women to the executive level. Created in collaboration with BTS, Accelerating Women Executives (AWE) is a one-of-a-kind, six-month development experience for high-potential women leaders.

Today, women comprise 48% of entry-level professionals, yet represent only 5% of CEOs in the S&P 500, 23% of C-suite executives, 29% of vice presidents, and 21% of board seats. In response to these harrowing statistics, BTS and USC Marshall designed AWE. Tim Blakesly, Assistant Dean of Executive Education for USC Marshall describes, “AWE expands our offerings to serve an essential growth segment in executive education. The combination of Marshall faculty and research, our location in a vibrant city, and BTS’ program insights make for a powerful combination to help bolster women leaders.”

three women sitting beside table

Research shows that there are many institutional barriers blocking women from rising to the top of their organizations, including lack of executive sponsorship and lack of direct, immediate feedback. AWE was designed to specifically address these issues. “We’ve included every development strategy that has been proven to accelerate learning and growth into this six-month experience,” said Blakesly.

Pairing USC Marshall’s exceptional research faculty with BTS’ deep expertise in experiential approaches to executive learning, the program is differentiated by five critical elements:

  • Unique assessments, providing pre- and post-program evaluation examining critical executive behaviors and mindsets;
  • High-impact workshops, allowing participants to practice leading global multibillion-dollar companies while facing realistic challenges in a simulated, risk-free environment;
  • Executive coaching, providing support and learning reinforcement before, during, and after workshops;
  • Executive sponsorship, equipping the leaders who support high-potential women with the skills necessary to support success and addressing one of the major hinderances to women advancing in business;
  • A rich network of peers, connecting executive women across industries.

“We have designed a solution to help women overcome these obstacles and move the needle on the statistics, which are appalling,” said Jessica Parisi, President and CEO of BTS USA. “It’s clear that what we’ve done in the past isn’t working – these numbers haven’t changed in decades. BTS creates disruptive solutions that redefine the leadership marketplace and we know our work can help create transformative change.”

Anne Wilson, Senior Director at BTS and founder of the program, notes: “As we tested this initiative with our clients, what we heard from the daily practitioners confirmed what we know from research – executive sponsorship is a critical component to accelerating women to the C-suite. Our clients loved the ‘two for one’ nature of this program – sponsors get educated on the barriers and unconscious biases impacting their high-potential women and learn how to sponsor effectively, while women receive the development and sponsorship they need to attain the stretch assignments critical to advancement. We address both individual and organizational barriers to gender parity at the very top.”

“The AWE development experience is loaded with opportunities for specific feedback,” said Susan Burnett, former Deloitte Chief Learning Officer and talent executive at HP, Gap Inc. and Yahoo! “We know feedback is critical to performance success, because it clarifies what organizations value and how a leader in that organization is perceived. So, we designed 360⁰ feedback, sponsorship, coaching, and peer feedback opportunities into the six-month experience, as well as ways for women to ask for feedback effectively. We were relentless in designing an experience that is both individual and collective, blowing up the ‘sage on stage’ tradition of executive education and focusing on the individual who works in a distinctive organizational context, brings a wealth of experience and has unique development needs.”


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