Corporate-academic relationships: Leveraging C-suite influence to meet new learning needs

As business is upskilling and government seeks to modernize assistance for educational programs, universities that get to know the new chief influencers of corporate learning can build strategic relationships that yield greater collective success.
By: | November 16, 2020
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As corporate leaders address skill deficits within their workforce and educators design curriculum, corporate-academic collaboration is essential for mutual success. According to the World Economic Forum, a proactive effort is necessary to prevent further job losses and talent shortages. At a time when meaningful introductions are limited by safe, social distances, it’s important to work together to identify parallels and shared missions. To fully prepare for the future of work, grow resources and progress, strategic partnerships are key. So, it is perhaps more important than ever for university leaders to understand how corporate structure has transformed. The C-Suite is growing and its influence shifting. In this new landscape, there are three chief introductions to empower university and workplace relations.

Rebecca Cenni-Leventhal, Atrium

Rebecca Cenni-Leventhal, Atrium

1. Chief communications officer

The role of chief communications officer (CCO) is a highly strategic position within a company that embraces much more than public relations. CCOs help their organization connect the dots between the brand’s mission, vision and values and the people who it influences. These executive leaders often advise on high-level matters across all functions of an organization and report directly to the CEO. If you’re looking to further university relations, a CCO can identify strategic parallels and opportunities for cross-promotion. They also offer a uniquely direct line to stakeholders and decision-makers. A valuable lesson in collaboration can be from Pizza Hut’s recent announcement. By partnering with First Book to provide a series of free resources, two seemingly disparate industries are united through shared values and making a greater impact as a result. A Chief Communications Officer can be a particularly powerful ally for universities to achieve corporate partnership success.

2. Chief learning officer

Another influential connector and adept communicator is the chief learning officer (CLO). The role of these executives is a highly evolved function within Human Resources. Fortune Business Insights™  estimates the smart education and learning market will reach $783.48 billion by 2027. Even chief learning officers are learning digital marketing skills to try and keep up! CLOs are dedicated to creating a culture of learning at work according to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and are an especially valuable ally for continued learning and professional development. Today’s environment presents an immense opportunity to accelerate corporate upskilling. Networking with these chiefs can offer insight into niche learning needs to satisfy a multitude of new needs.

According to SHRM 56 percent of employers offer their employees tuition reimbursement. And there is growing support for legislation that would incentivize employers to do even more. Beyond the opportunity for universities to generate more revenue through employer programs, corporate partnerships can benefit students in the form of a career ─from traditional and virtual internships to returnships and throughout their work journey.

3. Chief technology officer

From the ways in which we interact with clients to operational functions and employee engagement, tech platforms and software solutions are the forefront of our workforce today. And the executives leading today’s expedition while also anticipating tomorrow’s puzzles, are our chief technology officers (CTOs). These C-Suite Executives are equipped with unmatched analytical acumen. They aim to be ahead of the trends and constantly pursue innovation and knowledge. CTOs are constantly immersed in workforce data and can easily identify the tools and solutions required to drive business ingenuity and efficiencies. These forward-thinking chiefs can also identify the socio-behavioral skills required for leading a tech-driven workforce effectively. This makes CTOs shrewd corporate-academic partners. By engaging these forward thinkers to develop corporate learning solutions, we can improve digital-human collaboration and better prepare learners for tomorrow’s workforce.

Amid declining economies, emerging competition and other significant financial changes, CEOs are more outcome-focused than ever. There are higher expectations for higher learning within the workforce. To equip learners with new workplace expectations universities must look toward their corporate partners. Allyship from the emerging leaders within the C-Suite can provide perspective as well as business opportunities. Together, we can balance shifting corporate demands with higher learning to realize the full potential of our future workforce.

Rebecca Cenni-Leventhal is founder and CEO of Atrium, an all-inclusive partner for talent and contingent solutions established in 1995 that uses Applicant-Centric™ recruitment and mission to build the workforce of tomorrow by putting people first. Often referred to as Atrium’s Chief Empowerment Officer, Cenni-Leventhal is dedicated to safeguarding the human value in work culture by helping employer brands source unparalleled talent and technology-driven workforce solutions.