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Thursday, March 29, 2012 - New certificate courses inspire company growth, innovation

Survival mode is over. With the economy inching toward recovery, Michigan companies are adjusting their business goals. They are moving beyond surviving the downturn. Now, they are focusing on reinventing themselves and growing their business.

To help executives kick-start this new business attitude, Oakland University’s School of Business Administration is introducing two new two-day certificate programs this May.

The first, Architecting Business Growth: A Practitioners Guide to Achieving Corporate Vision runs May 4-5. Developed to empower participants with the knowledge that their own organizations can and should be prepared to support growth, this certificate course invites executives and managers to explore the idea that growth doesn't just happen, but it's something that companies must engineer.

The following weekend, May 11-12, OU hosts Intrapreneurism: Creating Innovation in Established Corporations. Geared for executives faced with squeezing more than ever out of their organization, this program will help participants explore innovation, corporate change and entrepreneurism inside a corporate setting. Attendees will discuss how others have faced the daunting task of reinventing products, processes, business models and the organizations that enable them.

Instructors, Greggory Garrett (SECS ’97) and Warren Ritchie, leaders in defining and implementing growth strategies for technology-driven businesses, created the courses to share their passion for leading change, supporting business growth, and energizing organizations and the people who are part of them. 

While both will lead the courses, the program also includes peer-to-peer discussions and executive guest speakers, such as Jason Vazzano, founder and president of Vectorform, LLC, who specializes in user-centric innovation;  Ivan Frank, chief marketing officer for Fluency Media and former CMO of ePrize; and Patrick McGill, managing director of LM250, a corporate venture capital expert.

“We expect people to be able to go to work the Monday following the course and start applying what they learned right away,” Garrett explains.

Exchanging tales from the front line is an ideal teaching tool, says Fred W. Green, chairman, CEO Club of Boston, a nonprofit organization founded to create a nurturing environment for CEOs dedicated to improving the quality and profitability of their enterprises through shared experience and personal growth.

“A good CEO is a life-long learner,” Green says, explaining the importance of continuing education. “Entrepreneurism is observing and adapting. You don’t have to be original, you just have to copy fast,” he adds.

Leading the change

CEO and Founder of CGS Advisors, Garrett offers a unique blend of professional management experience in corporate settings, entrepreneurism and knowledge of upcoming technologies. He believes the ultra-connected environment of people and products will revolutionize the world economy. This former chief strategy officer for IT and innovation at Volkswagen Group of America is an expert at implementing unique market-based strategies, solving complex problems and motivating teams.

With expertise that spans corporate strategy, marketing, finance, sales and IT, CGS Advisors Practice Leader Ritchie brings 30 years of success as a change agent from his experience in the private sector, public sector and academia. Ritchie currently wears two hats. Ritchie also served as CIO at Volkswagen of America. He holds a Ph.D. in corporate strategy from the University of North Carolina.

We’ve done some learning over the years and it’s time to share what we know with others,” Garrett says, explaining the motivation behind creating the programs for OU.  

“We’re able to synthesize our years of experience and create these bites of information that can help reframe the executives thinking and change their mindset about growth and innovation,” Ritchie adds. “We can make a difference rather quickly.”

They have a track record to prove it. As a team, they have assisted in launching an innovative department at a North American automotive OEM, defined an IT strategy for VW, implemented a growth plan for a sales and marketing company, re-launched a telecommunications company in an established market, and more.

The two are also in demand as speakers, including guest lecturing at Harvard, Richard Ivey School of Business in Ontario and Michigan State University, as well as 40 conferences in the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.  

For more information about the programs and to register, visit

By Rene Wisely