July 2015 | 

Where Senior Leaders Go to Up Their Game

Where Senior Leaders go to Up Their Game

“I’m in Wharton’s Advanced Management Program because it has the right blend of business acumen, leadership development, and team building,” says Tricia Griffith. The COO of Progressive Insurance explains that as she moved up through the ranks in her company, she thought about getting an MBA. But now with her years of experience in a variety of roles, she didn’t need to go back to the basics.

“I’ve been at the same company since I was 22, so it was important for me to find a program that would help me dig into things I don’t do every day and to stretch myself. My CEO and I agreed that it was important not just for my development but also for the company, because of what I would bring back to Progressive.” Together, they chose Wharton’s AMP.

Siva Subramanian, CEO of Afri Ventures Ltd. in the United Arab Emirates, agrees that the program strikes the right balance between classroom learning, coaching, team building, and hands-on experiences. “AMP’s content sets Wharton apart,” he says. “The focus on leadership and innovation appealed to me — I wasn’t looking for five weeks of strategy sessions. And the content is very rich: the professors are experts in their fields; they are presenting new material and they really engage with the class. It’s an absolutely tremendous experience.”

New to AMP are four Learning Directors who not only teach in the program, but are present throughout the five weeks to engage with participants in and out of the classroom. These leadership development experts include one of Chile's most accomplished mountaineers who has led several successful expeditions to the Himalayas and Antarctica; a consultant to NASA who works with International Space Station astronauts on the dynamics of teamwork and leadership on extended space expeditions; the former director of Leadership Programs at the United States Military Academy at West Point who served as a key architect of West Point’s Leader Development System; and the director of the Wharton Leadership Program.

Halfway through AMP, Griffith says she is “learning a lot” about her leadership skills, confirming what she is doing well and seeing what she needs to work on. She says working with her AMP team is “eye-opening. We are all high-level leaders and a very diverse group, so it’s very instructive to see how people from other backgrounds and cultures maneuver around different challenges. Most of them don’t reside or work in the U.S., so I am learning a lot from them in terms of a more global perspective. It will be great after the program is over to have a new group that knows me well and can continue to provide feedback.”

For Subramanian, the real value of AMP is the experiential learning. “It pushes you out of your comfort zone,” he says. From creating a short film to training with the New York Fire Department, the experiences are designed to help participants gain insights into their leadership and their role on teams that classroom learning can’t get at. “Simply put,” he explains, “AMP is a transformational experience. It is helping me shape the remainder of my career, and I am looking forward to implementing everything I have learned when I get back to work.”