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Duke Corporate Education Launches Service to Teach and Coach Corporate Executives

February 05, 2002

DURHAM, NC- Duke Corporate Education, Inc. has formed a joint-venture partnership with two internationally recognized corporate educators to launch Personal Learning Systems (PLS), the first one-to-one executive learning and coaching service offered by a business school's customized executive education company.

In July 2000 Duke University and its Fuqua School of Business formed Duke Corporate Education to provide customized management education and educational services to corporations. Duke is the majority shareholder. To date all of the for-profit company's efforts have been in educating groups of corporate executives and employees.

"Executive coaching has been around quite a while, but this is the first time both coaching and scholarship have come together for individuals," said Blair Sheppard, CEO of Duke Corporate Education. "We created PLS because of the need for executives to have this individualized learning brought to them at their offices.

"Coaching in the past has not gone far enough," he said. "We begin our work with an individual executive by performing a thorough diagnosis of the executive's knowledge. Then we provide an individualized learning plan, teach him or her according to the plan, and coach the executive as the growing knowledge becomes action."

Sheppard said potential clients for PLS include executives who have been promoted into a new set of responsibilities that require different skills. "This one-to-one executive development is a way to accelerate a good executive's capabilities, enabling him or her to master this larger role."

Duke Corporate Education's two outside partners in the venture are Marshall Goldsmith and James A. Belasco, California-based consultants with extensive experience in executive coaching.

"PLS is unique," Goldsmith said. "This is personal learning versus a generic education. The trend is proceeding this way because although traditional executive coaching is booming, many people realize it often misses the mark due to a lack of emphasis on learning new skills for the long term." During his career as a consultant, Goldsmith has been cited as one of the world's top executive educators by the Wall Street Journal. Forbes listed him among five top executive coaches. He has a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from UCLA and is on the faculty of the global executive education programs at Dartmouth College and Oxford University in the U.K.

Belasco, who received his Ph.D. in 1967 from Cornell University and later served on the faculty there as well as at San Diego State University and SUNY/Buffalo, agrees. "This is coaching for tomorrow-not coaching to solve yesterday's problems," he said. "What we will be concentrating on in these challenging economic times is enhancing leaders' ability to handle the changing times."

Belasco and Goldsmith were co-founders of the Financial Times Knowledge Dialogue, a videoconference network that connects executives with thought leaders. It allows their clients to discuss their unique issues with the world's greatest thinkers.

"These two men are world-class leaders in their field, and our partnership will mean a lot for Duke Corporate Education as we expand our customized educational services," Sheppard said.