Wharton Launches Executive Education Program for Top Leaders of FirstCaribbean International Bank: Modular Design and Focus on Current Initiatives Increase Program Impact

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The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania launched a new executive education program for senior leaders of FirstCaribbean International Bank, the largest, regionally-listed bank in the English-speaking Caribbean. The first cohort of 20 executives from FirstCaribbean's senior leadership and executive leadership teams came to Wharton's campus for The FirstCaribbean Leadership Program in November and January. They will return for sessions in May and August as part of the 18-month program.

They incorporated quite a few of the suggestions

    The Wharton program is the flagship leadership development program of a broad learning and development initiative at the bank. To provide education to its 3,500 employees, the company launched FirstCaribbean University, which offers training in areas such as banking, finance, and management. For its top leaders, however, the bank turned to Wharton to build the personal leadership skills and strategic management capabilities needed in this competitive region. With the success of this first cohort, the bank expects to put its entire leadership team through the Wharton program in the next three years.

"The Wharton program represents a significant investment by our bank in further developing our senior leadership team," said FirstCaribbean CEO Charles Pink. "In total, over three years, we will invest some US$2.5M in our senior leadership. The purpose of this program is to equip them with the skills to keep them, and FirstCaribbean, at the cutting edge of performance in our pursuit of our 'Best Bank in the Caribbean' vision."

Increasing Impact

To maximize the impact of the program, a series of modules allow executives to bring specific business initiatives into the classroom, create and test solutions, and then apply the ideas at work. The January module, for example, centered on a "blueprinting" process for "The Helpful Partner" customer service initiative, designed to achieve a quantum leap in service for a company that is already receiving high marks in customer satisfaction.

After the January session at Wharton, participants presented the results from blueprinting "Helpful Partner" to the senior team leading the initiative in Barbados. "They incorporated quite a few of the suggestions," said Debra Johnson, the bank's head of Corporate and Internal Communications and a participant in the program.

The unique program design was based on in-depth interviews by a Wharton design team, working with Peter Hall and Monique Straughan of FirstCaribbean. The team met with executives of the company to clarify business objectives and key development areas for the senior executives. "FirstCaribbean was created four years ago when CIBC and Barclays merged their Caribbean operations. Both of these firms had been in the region for 100 years or more," said program director Eric Weiner. "The complexity of the business is quite significant, with a mix of nationalities, cultures, and regulatory regimes across the 17 regional markets."

With about 20 days of education spanning more than 12 months, the Wharton program offers a continuity that is not seen in a typical one-time executive program. "I teach in the Wharton Executive MBA program, and it has that feel to it, since the participants are experienced and savvy, and it is not a one-shot program," said Wharton Adjunct Professor Joseph Ryan, academic director. "Working with people over a longer period, you get to know them better and get the harder issues on the table."

Johnson said she was impressed with the quality of the experience. "I was never involved in something quite so interesting, insightful, and entertaining. The Wharton School has a reputation bar none, and I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to be a part of something like that. It was an incredible experience, and the professors are in a class by themselves."

About the Wharton School

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania -- founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school -- is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The school has more than 4,600 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 8,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of more than 81,000 graduates.

Each year, Wharton works with more than 8,000 business leaders on its campus in Philadelphia, at Wharton West in San Francisco, and at sites around the world. The Wharton Learning Continuum is Wharton Executive Education's model for delivering Impact Through Education(TM) -- supporting companies and individuals in a 9- to 12-month learning process that is designed collaboratively with clients, delivered by Wharton faculty, and monitored to produce specific outcomes.

Wharton at 125

About FirstCaribbean

FirstCaribbean is a major Caribbean bank offering a full range of market-leading financial services in Corporate Banking, Retail Banking, Wealth Management, Credit Cards, Treasury and Capital Markets. It is the largest, regionally-listed bank in the English-speaking Caribbean, with assets of over US$12 billion and market capitalization of US$2.8 billion. The Bank has over 3,500 staff; over 100 branches, banking centers, and offices in 17 regional markets, serving 800,000 active accounts.

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