UNICON has over 100 member institutions worldwide that are committed to the development and advancement of executive education. To celebrate our member institutions, we will be sharing spotlights and interviews of some of our members within the UNICON community.
Member Interview: Monica Sacristan Fanjul, Dean, University Extension and Executive Development at ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México) and UNICON Primary Representative
Please describe your role at your institution.
My name is Monica Sacristan Fanjul and I am a Dean for University Extension and Executive Development at ITAM. I am responsible for all non-degree education in our University no matter what the subject. Therefore, I report directly to the University President and collaborate closely with the Provost and the Deans of the different academic divisions that offer degree programs.
How long have you/your institution been a part of UNICON?
ITAM has been a member of UNICON since 2001. I have been involved in UNICON since 2000 when I discovered the consortium shortly after taking over as Dean for Executive Development. Before that, I was the Assistant Dean for MBA. From the first conference I attended in Shanghai, I realized UNICON would be a great asset in helping me take Executive Education at ITAM to the next level.
What UNICON activities and resources do you engage in the most? Which activities and resources do you find the most valuable?
The most valuable UNICON activities are the conferences. However, I have always been active in committees and for six years, I was part of the Board of Directors. I find committee work a great opportunity to learn from my peers. I also find the benchmarking and research reports to be valuable.
Please describe your institution’s approach to executive education.
In Latin America, Executive Education evolved in a different way than it did in the U.S. Programs tend to be longer and many of them focus on a specialized topic. Additionally, clients and participants expect some sort of evaluation or grade.
At ITAM, we understand there are different markets and different needs, so we do not have a one-size-fits-all solution. We have built our organization around client segments and look to serve each segment in the best way possible. So while some of our programs follow this traditional form, many others are experiential, shorter and target specific problems. In all cases, our approach is a high touch one with most of our programs being face to face.
How has your involvement with UNICON made an impact on both your professional career and the executive education program(s) at your institution?
UNICON has been a key factor both in my career development and in the shaping of ITAM’s present day Executive Development operation. Coming from the degree side of Business Education, UNICON allowed me to understand early on the differences between degree, executive education and continuing education. Through the UNICON conferences, we have been exposed to different teaching methodologies, insights and topics that have helped us reinvent our own programs and classroom experience. We have also learned about operational details that range from the best way to distribute materials, name tents and badges, to designing effective evaluation forms and providing adequate catering. We have also explored different ways to organize ourselves, develop effective marketing techniques and more.
Running a UNICON conference early on in 2002 (“Executive Education at a Crossroad: Global Perspectives on Success in a Changing Environment” hosted by ITAM) brought my staff to a new level of performance. Additionally, our organization looks forward to our celebration of “Teachers Day” in May when I bring about 135 members of our faculty up to date as to what is being discussed at our annual UNICON Directors’ Conference.
In short, UNICON is a very important part of our success. Personally, it has been invaluable both in my development and providing a network of fabulous people I can’t imagine doing my job without.
How do you see executive education changing in the next few years?
I don’t think we can come up with a single answer. On the one hand I think we will be moving into a blended modular model where the learner will have more control. I see a need for strengthening numerical skills while at the same time building collaboration and communication skills.
On the other hand I see the experiential and GLOCAL model thriving as people need to come together to solve particular problems and build communities.
We will have to become better as seekers of new models and solutions than providers of unique answers.