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THE STUDENT AND ALUMNI JOURNAL OF STRAYER UNIVERSITY VOLUME 8, NUMBER 4 FALL 2005 Class of 2005: A Year to Remember IBM Continuing Education Goes Public Human Resources Issue The Business of People PERSPECTIVE
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THE STUDENT AND ALUMNI JOURNAL OF STRAYER UNIVERSITY VOLUME 8, NUMBER 4 FALL 2005 Class of 2005: A Year to Remember IBM Continuing Education Goes Public Human Resources Issue The Business of People PERSPECTIVE Natural Resources By Dr. Zelphia A. Brown, Regional Academic Dean, Strayer University Pop quiz: What is the most important asset to any organization? Hint: It will make or break your business, but it isn t products, patents or properties. The answer is people. Dr. Brown is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She holds a doctoral degree in education and master s and bachelor s degrees in business. Dr. Brown teaches SPHR exam preparation courses and is a certified trainer for the Developmental Dimensions Institute. Human resources professionals are responsible for this important asset, for managing human capital and helping companies identify and meet strategic goals. Human resource management encompasses benefits, compensation, career development, occupational health and safety, employee relations, dispute resolution, adherence to employment laws and a host of other workerrelated issues. Simply put, without human resources, business would grind to a halt. Strayer University offers many options for students looking to launch a dynamic human resources career. Bachelor of Science degree candidates can minor in human resource management. Master of Business Administration students can choose a concentration in the discipline. Mid- or senior-level managers who already hold a degree can earn an Executive Graduate Certificate in Business Administration in Human Resources. In addition to earning a Strayer University degree or certificate, the single most important way for an individual to distinguish him- or herself in the field is by becoming a certified Professional of Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR). This certification demonstrates extensive knowledge of human resources issues. To learn more about these exams, visit As in any profession, prospective employers will want you to have experience in the field. This is the classic catch-22 for most recent college graduates: You need work experience to get hired, but how can you get it if no one will hire you? When it comes to human resources, adult students have a major advantage. Most adults have worked in other fields and already have much of the knowledge, skills and abilities that are required for an entry- or mid-level human resources position. For example, you may have held a job as a customer service specialist that required excellent customer relations, attention to detail and listening skills all qualities that are highly sought in a human resources job applicant. If you are a novice to the profession you may want to format your resume to highlight your competencies more prominently than your job titles. With your redesigned resume in hand and a Strayer University degree and PHR certification in your back pocket, you are just an interview away from managing a company s most valuable assets. o 2 Strayer University contents Scholar Publisher Sonya G. Udler Managing Editor Hannah M. Durocher Contributors Dr. Yvonne A. Athanasaw Rajeev Bansal Dr. Zelphia Brown Carolyn Clarke Dr. Grace Endres Jennifer Freeman Tracy Hamm Dr. William Kraus Colleen Stroh Keena Thomas Scholar magazine connects the Strayer University community, reaching more than 45,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff and donors. The quarterly magazine provides students and alumni information on University news, programs, activities and feature articles with a focus on academic and career issues. Most articles and illustrative materials are requested by the editor, but unsolicited submissions and photographs are welcome. Strayer University reserves the right to edit all materials submitted to the editor. If you no longer wish to receive Scholar,or if you would like to be added to the mailing list, please Scholar, is designed and laid out by Groff Creative, Inc. Copyright 2005 Strayer University FEATURES 4 Raising the Silver Ceiling Older workers rethink retirement. 5 Planning for Tomorrow s Leaders Succession planning leads companies in the right direction. 11 IBM Continuing Education Goes Public Information technology courses are now accessible to individuals. 8ON THE COVER In recent years, human resources has changed from a recruitment and retention-focused discipline to a profession that encompasses all aspects of personnel management. In two decades on the job, Reggie Stewart (MBA 05) has evolved along with his chosen field. Stewart recently spoke with Scholar about the ever-changing business of human resource management. Photographed by John T. Consoli UNIVERSITY NEWS 12 Class of 2005: A Year to Remember 13 Luminaries Honor Strayer Graduates 14 Strayer Grads Gear Up for the Future 15 On the Move Scholar FALL esources Human T Raising the Silver Ceiling By Dr. William Kraus, Adjunct Faculty, Nashville Campus he old cliché of retiring to Florida at age 65 is no longer the goal for today s energetic older workers. Increased life expectancy and healthier old age are causing many employees to stay on the job longer. In a recent survey, nearly half of workers aged said they plan to continue working into their 70s or later. Organizations and human resources professionals must be prepared for this major demographic shift and its impact on every aspect of employer-employee relations. Promotional Bottleneck. As older workers choose to remain in top positions longer, promotional opportunities may slow for younger employees. Human resources managers will have to adjust the advancement expectations of less experienced employees accordingly, and may have to find new ways to help young workers feel that the organization is committed to their development. Senior Education. This term used to mean successful retirement planning and education. Not any more. Human resources and training departments should be prepared to help older employees keep current on the latest technology and information. Phasing in Retirement. If Florida is the old model for retirement, the new paradigm seems to be keeping one foot in the office and the other on the golf course. The majority of older employees hope to log part-time hours for years before retiring. Unfortunately, outmoded federal regulations and tax rules often restrain companies from offering such arrangements without cutting retirement benefits. Pension experts are currently examining ways to revise the rules to allow this. For workers facing semiretirement in the next decade, the changes cannot come soon enough. o Dr. Kraus is city manager of Oak Hill, Tenn., and has taught human resource management courses for 30 years. 4 Strayer University Planning for Tomorrow s Leaders By Dr. Yvonne A. Athanasaw, Adjunct Faculty, Alexandria, Va., Campus, and Dr. Grace Endres, Adjunct Faculty, Washington, D.C., Campus Have you ever wondered how executives become executives? The answer for savvy organizations is succession planning the identification, development and grooming of employees with leadership potential. As baby boomers begin retiring, many government and private organizations are realizing they will soon face a serious leadership shortage if they do not plan for successors. By 2008, an estimated percent of managers nationwide will be eligible to retire. Organizations such as General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Postal Service are implementing succession planning to ensure there is continuity of leadership when a manager leaves the workplace. Succession planning leads to a positive work environment for employees. An employee whose manager shows interest in his or her career advancement is more likely to remain productive and loyal to the organization. Managers can prepare employees for executive positions by encouraging them to take on highly visible projects or lead high-profile meetings. Such opportunities enhance employees abilities to communicate, lead, negotiate and be diplomatic, all necessary qualities in a successful executive. The career of Lynn Malcolm (AAELS 74, BSBA 81 and MBA 04), vice president and controller for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), is a perfect example of succession planning gone right. Malcolm started working at USPS 31 years ago after earning her associate degree from Strayer. My supervisor encouraged me to return to Strayer to obtain a bachelor s degree and, upon graduating, I was immediately given opportunities for advancement into the management career track, Malcolm recalls. The Strayer University alumnus worked in various executive positions in finance over a nine-year period and was eventually appointed manager of compensation in As we collaborated on my individual development plan, the vice president of employee resource management told me I would have to go back to school to obtain my master s degree to be competitive for officer positions, Malcolm says. She returned to Strayer University for a graduate degree and was put on the succession plan for Scholar FALL Diversifying Diversity Today s human resources professionals place as much emphasis on diversity as their counterparts a decade ago, but the term now encompasses more than just gender and race, according to the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va. The phrase covers many differences among workers, including age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, physical abilities and marital and parental status, to name a few. Diversity creates a dynamic work environment that attracts employees who are better at reaching out to customers in varying demographics, increasing sales and profitability. Companies can establish and maintain a heterogeneous workplace through family-friendly leave policies, equitable health benefits that do not place undue burdens on childless employees, recruitment and retention of diverse leaders and implementation of measurable diversity goals. Organizations that acknowledge the different needs of varying groups will enjoy greater worker satisfaction and loyalty, creating a win-win situation for all. Upon graduating, I was immediately given opportunities for advancement into the management career track. Lynn Malcolm (AAELS 74, BSBA 81, MBA 04) continued from p.5 three officer positions. The month after graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree, Malcolm was asked to go on a development assignment as the vice president, controller. She was promoted to the position in early Malcolm believes succession planning and following through on her individual development plan activities were the keys to her success. My developmental assignments afforded me the opportunity to grow and be prepared to excel in my career, she says. My advice is for supervisors and human resources managers to work with employees to develop a plan for professional growth. o Drs. Athanasaw and Endres are both program managers at the U.S. Postal Service and teach human resource management courses at Strayer University. Their paper, Succession Management: A Case Study in Diversity and Change, won the Organization Development Institute s 2005 Silver Bowl Award. Scholar Gets a Makeover Strayer University is growing and its flagship publication is, too.scholar has a sleek new look just in student profiles, career articles, alumni news and corporate spotlights.we welcome your feedback. 6 Strayer University Learning Curve Employers Value an Educated Work Force Jeff Coppage loves the great outdoors. As a young boy, he dreamed of a career that would surround him with fresh air and sunshine. Today, he can often be found solving technical problems in mid-air from the base of a cell tower 100 feet above Maryland. So what does this 36-year-old cell site technician for Verizon Wireless need with an MBA? Complex problems require complex solutions, and I am better at what I do because I kept pursuing my education, Coppage says. Like many of the 7,000 Verizon Wireless employees who take advantage of the company s education benefit each year, Coppage received up to $8,000 annually to earn his degree. Since the late 1990s, a soft economy and escalating health care costs have forced companies to look hard at the level of tuition assistance provided to workers. But with employers facing a shrinking work force in future years due to the aging Baby Boomer population, many companies are recommitting themselves to education benefits in order to maintain a stable work force. With a predicted labor shortage in the years ahead, retention efforts will be crucial to hiring and retaining qualified workers, says Rebecca Hastings, manager of the Information Center for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). According to SHRM, nearly 80 percent of employers are currently providing tuition assistance. Education benefits are critical for organizations that wish to maintain an environment of continuous learning, Hastings says. Ed Cohen, director of the Center for Performance Excellence at Booz Allen Hamilton, says investing in employee education has reduced turnover at the international management and technology consulting firm to almost zero. At Booz Allen, we see a return on our investment in the form of increased employee skills, employees qualified for promotions and a stable work force, he says. More than 16,000 international employees participate in Booz Allen s tuition reimbursement program. One of those is Laura Colomb, training program coordinator, who graduated from Strayer University with an associate degree and is now purusing her Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Colomb calls the education reimbursement the single greatest benefit of working for Booz Allen. I feel like we are partners in my education and training for life. o time for the Fall Quarter. We hope you will appreciate the new design while continuing to enjoy Scholar s Please write to and tell us what you think of Scholar. Scholar FALL B In recent years, human resources has changed from a recruitment and retention-focused discipline to a profession that encompasses all aspects of personnel management. In two decades on the job, Reggie Stewart (MBA 05) has evolved along with his chosen field. 8 Strayer University Photo credit: John T. Consoli usiness The of People The woman with the ice pick in her hand walked up the steps of People s Drug Store s Employment and Training Center on the corner of 10th and F St. NW. She passed the front desk employees without a glance, strode down the hallway to Reggie Stewart s office and put the ice pick to his throat. Hire me or else, she threatened. Stewart, an employment manager, immediately recognized the woman as a job applicant he had interviewed but chosen not to hire. Realizing the situation called for extreme diplomacy, he invited the woman to have a seat and talk things over. To his relief, she agreed. Stewart explained the qualities an employer looks for in an applicant, and coached her on ways to improve her job search. After a lengthy discussion, the woman left the store, ice pick in hand. The experience reinforced Stewart s conviction that he had chosen the right field to suit his strengths. He continued to work for the drug store s Washington, D.C., location after it was renamed CVS Pharmacy, eventually achieving the position of employee relations manager. Stewart left the pharmacy chain after 16 years to become regional human resources manager for The Wood Company, which was ultimately acquired by Sodexho, an international food and facilities management firm. When I first graduated from college, my goal was to work in human resources for a few years and go back to school to become a labor attorney, Stewart explains from his home office in Oxon Hill, Md., a suburb of the nation s capital. I wanted to help workers get fair treatment in the workplace. But once I got involved in the field I realized that being a human resources manager gave me all the opportunity I needed to make a difference in employees work experiences. Scholar FALL A Seat at the Table The recent Strayer University graduate has been promoted to human resources director at Sodexho and is now responsible for 4,000 employees in the Mid-Atlantic region. Stewart can usually be found resolving issues for workers at one of his 60 regional accounts, representing the company at dispute resolution sessions or conducting conference calls from his mobile office (his car). The key to providing quality human resource management is building rapport with employees, Stewart emphasizes. Although my primary function is working with managers to help them resolve employee relations issues, I always hand out my business card to workers in the field and let them know they can contact me any time with questions or complaints. Payoff No stranger to challenges, a typical day for the single father includes waking at 6:00 a.m. to get his 14-year-old daughter off to high school, traveling to Sodexho accounts throughout Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware and Pennsylvania, and returning home in time to cook dinner for two. After the evening meal, father and daughter work side-by-side on their homework. Now that Stewart has completed his graduate degree he will have a little more free time to help daughter Regina with her course load. Watching me get an advanced degree has definitely had a positive influence on my daughter, Stewart says. There is no doubt in her mind that she will follow in my footsteps to attend college. Earning a graduate degree has paid off for Stewart The key to providing quality human resource management is building rapport with employees. Reggie Stewart (MBA 05) This proactive approach helps identify issues before they have escalated. One of the most important roles of a human resources professional, Stewart explains, is minimizing risk to the organization by resolving problems before they get out of hand. Stewart cites diplomacy and tact as two of the most essential personality traits for someone who wants to work in human resources. Knowledge of employment laws and business acumen are equally important. Today, HR professionals have to be able to take a seat at the table as business partners, he notes. A company relies on its human resources department to help identify strategies for meeting organizational goals and overcoming challenges. literally. I received a significant increase in pay the day after graduation, he says with satisfaction. Equally satisfying are the on-the-job applications of his graduate school knowledge. I have been able to immediately apply a lot of my in-class learning in the workplace, Stewart notes. My boss says he has really noticed the impact of my Strayer University education on my performance and on employees in my region. After taking a few months off from academics, Stewart plans to pursue his Senior Professional in Human Resources certification and someday return to school for a doctoral degree. So would he encourage his coworkers at Sodexho to go back to college? Definitely, he says. In addition to all of the other advantages it brings, having an advanced degree just feels good. o 10 Strayer University Continuing Education Goes Public IBM is a learning organization. Investing more than $750 million per year to train its 300,000-plus employees, IBM stays on the cutting edge of learning technology, training paradigms and continuing education offerings. The organization has been passing along its educational acumen to corporate customers for years, helping human resources managers across the country keep employees current on the information technology (IT) industry s most in-demand skills. Now IBM has reinforced its commitment to learning by expanding the scope and focus of its award-winning continuing technology education program. For the first time, IT professionals can directly access IBM s high-tech educational offerings with off-site courses designed for individuals in the f
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