Virtual classrooms democratise executive education

Andrew Jack:

As universities closed their classrooms and companies adjusted to the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic last year, PepsiCo’s chief learning officer, Molly Nagler, had to scrap plans to send executives to programmes at Wharton School and Yale School of Management.

But rather than dismiss executive education as impractical, unaffordable or unjustifiable during a crisis, Nagler doubled down and negotiated online alternatives for the US-based food and drinks group.

“We tend to use the in-person, campus-based programme for executives to create a differentiated experience and expose them to cutting-edge thinking and research,” she says. “We’ll still use the campus for elite experiences but less than before because of the expense and the challenge to get everyone in one place.”

Like many of her counterparts in companies around the world, Nagler is not cutting back on her training budget. Instead, she is reconsidering who should learn, what they should study and how best to train them — and reviewing her choice of external programmes.