By Kirk Kardashian, July 2011
Published Jul 25, 2011
As a security manager in Boeing’s Security and Fire Protection Organization, Amy Wuerch oversees the department that handles background screening and suitability assessments of prospective employees. Or as she puts it: “We serve as the gatekeepers to the organization.”
This year, Wuerch was one of 50 executives at the 170,000-employee company selected to attend an executive education program at an elite American business school of their choice.
For Wuerch, the Tuck Executive Program (TEP), the flagship open-enrollment program of Tuck Executive Education, was the perfect fit. “It had the right focus areas in business management that are relevant, current, and essential for the next level,” she says.
Led by faculty director Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at Tuck and an expert in strategy and management, TEP immerses senior executives in a strategic general management curriculum that stresses personal leadership transformation. The three-week program, which takes place in July and August, contains three modules: management in action; managing change and growth; and leadership and personal change.
TEP is designed for executives with 10 to 15 years of management experience and puts them in a rigorous and collegial environment where they can learn new skills and reflect on their leadership style. And, importantly, it does this in a more efficient format than any other executive education program. “As a business leader trying to balance my personal life and my work life,” Wuerch says, “I can’t leave my regular routine for 11 weeks. TEP is condensed enough that it allows me to unplug from my current responsibilities and give exclusive attention to the learning.”
Why did you choose the Tuck Executive Program?
Boeing makes a tremendous investment in leadership development. There’s a significant recognition that we have to develop the pipeline of talent for the future. Just in my organization, roughly 80 percent of the current leadership in management roles are eligible to retire in the next five years. So we are putting a lot of focus on developing future talent.
What has been the most interesting and useful thing you have learned so far?
I am very far removed from the finance aspects of our business. We’re given our budgets to manage at the beginning of year, but we don’t have access to income statements and balance sheets. So the finance and accounting units have given me a real appreciation for the criticality of ensuring that each and every day you are bringing positive value to the enterprise, and that the value you’re bringing translates into shareholder value. A lot of times, in a company the size of ours, you lose sight of that.
What has the teaching experience been like?
The faculty have been exceptional. Phillip Stocken, for example, has been able to take accounting principles and break them down and make them understandable. It’s been extraordinary how he’s been able to engage us and keep us interested. I’ve also been impressed with [finance professor] Bob Howell: he’s so well informed on so many sectors of industries, and has a wealth of expertise and knowledge. And we had a fireside chat with [economics professor] Matt Slaughter, who’s been testifying on Capitol Hill recently regarding the debt ceiling, and provided us with some interesting macroeconomic perspectives on how it’s going to affect the globalization strategies of multinational companies.
Have you had a chance to get to know your fellow TEP participants?
I’ve made some professional connections that are going to be something that I can take advantage of long after we leave TEP. It’s been invaluable just learning about what other people do and understanding how to leverage contacts to help with challenges I’m facing at work. It’s been very enriching.