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March 20, 2001

Training Targets Future Business Leaders

How do you grow a CEO? That's a challenge being met in a popular program at California State University, Sacramento.

What makes "Leadership for the New Millennium" special is continual input from area businesses like Blue Shield and Aerojet. The course, which begins Thursday, March 29, is run by the University's Regional and Continuing Education division.

Program organizers got business leaders involved right from the start. "When we were developing the curriculum, we asked 25 CEOs, 'What skills or attributes will be necessary in your replacement?' " says Jerry Estenson, faculty coordinator for the class and CSUS professor of business administration.

And they continue to keep then involved. The program is reevaluated each semester and revamped when necessary to meet the changing needs of both the businesses and the participants, says program director Elizabeth Hough. Topics this semester include "Future Role of Leaders," "The Technology of Change" and "Modeling Quality Leadership."

Each of the nine six-hour sessions features a presentation by an internationally recognized scholar. On April 5, the speaker will be Army Brig. Gen. Kenneth Bergquist, president of the newly created Joint Special Operations University in Hurlburt Field, Fla. Bergquist, who leads an effort to help the individual special operations units of the Air Force, Army and Navy work together more effectively, will talk on "Achieving Focus" at 1 p.m. in the Alumni Center.

Estenson says they continually search for presenters who have a mix of academic credentials and applied knowledge. They've included faculty from UC Berkeley, St. Mary's College, Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco. Non-university presenters include real estate developer J. J. McClatchy on power, politics and money, Hewlett-Packard executive Margery Auvinen on crisis communication and Eric Klein, co-author of Awakening Corporate Soul: Four Paths to Unleash the Power of People at Work.

There is also an opportunity during each session to interview a local CEO. "Participants get to see a leader up close," Hough says. "They are very candid discussions."

This semester's group of executives features several graduates of the program including Anne Moore, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency executive director; Philip Germond, Roseville Telephone vice president; and Dorothy Meehan, Sierra Health Foundation vice president.

The selection criterion is strict and enrollment is capped at 25. Participants must be in line to become a senior executive in a company, or a senior non-elected government official, within five years and must be sponsored by his or her organization.

This semester's participants represent Aerojet, Blue Shield, the California Health and Human Services Agency, the Department of Consumer Affairs, DST Innovis, Logicon, Roseville Telephone and Wells Fargo. There will also be four participants from the government of the Guangdong Province in China.

"It's one of the most challenging things I've ever been involved with," Estenson says. "You have 25 'Type As' in one room - superstars all."

It's also "networking personified," Estenson adds. "Each participant leaves with a support group of 24 fellow participants and knows nine business scholars and nine CEOs by name. It's incredibly gratifying."

Regional and Continuing Education is now accepting applications for the fall program. For more information, contact Hough at (916) 278-4843. For media information, contact the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-4282.


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