A Business Education for Educators

Rice Executive Education teaches HISD administrators ‘customer service’ approach to education outreach

HISD Business education isn’t just for businesses anymore, thanks to a program designed for the Houston Independent School District (HISD) by Rice Executive Education at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

In 2010 school district representatives consulted Rice Executive Education to design a program that taught HISD principals a “stakeholder-focused” approach to strategic development and management at their various schools.

“When HISD approached us, some of their schools were facing the challenge of decreased enrollments, budget constraints and even closure,” said Monica Sedelmeier, client manager for Rice Executive Education, which offers customized programs for organizations looking to target a defined organizational problem or issue of concern. “In an effort to help increase enrollment, retention and stakeholder communication, Executive Education collaborated with HISD to develop the Strategic Marketing Management Program for School Leaders. The course is designed to enable participants to conduct a marketing strategy audit of their organization and then develop a strategic marketing plan.”

The program recently concluded its third cohort, and to date, representatives from approximately 27 HISD schools have participated.

Alejandro Morua, a leadership development manager for HISD, said that prior to the course, many of the participants viewed strategic marketing as advertising or communication. “They quickly learned that strategic marketing is more about positioning, knowing their strengths and promoting them to their respective communities.”

The training has proved invaluable to the HISD employees who have participated in the program, Morua said. “It’s helped them become more focused and deliberate in reaching out to their respective communities and identifying families with children that might be a good fit for their school.”

Richard Barajas, one of five school-improvement officers for HISD high schools, said he’s glad he participated. “I have found it to be a very valuable program that allows campuses to really focus on what they provide and what makes them special and unique to leaning communities in Houston. The program teaches us to align our offering to the needs of the intended target families.”

Vikas Mittal, the J. Hugh Liedtke Professor of Management and the program’s facilitator, said HISD’s success with the program is just one example of how organizations in the nonprofit sector can benefit from adopting best practices from the for-profit business sector.

“We believe that this program’s results demonstrate why sound management practices are important for all organizations, whether for-profit or nonprofit,” he said.