JWMI sat down with the Mirror Review as part of its feature on The 10 Most Progressive Education Institutes of 2019. This article was originally published on Mirror Review.
Every company is looking for people who can lead.
Yet, employers regularly cite soft skills as the most significant hiring gap. In a recent survey, LinkedIn used billions of data points from its 500+ million members to determine which skills are the most actively sought by employers, and which ones helped its members get hired. LinkedIn found that leadership, communication, and collaboration are the most in-demand soft skills sought by companies for mid-to-senior level positions.
According to Mary Carr, Dean at the top-ranked Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI), “There is a disconnect between what employers are looking for and what today’s educational institutions are teaching. Many business schools focus on theory, research, and quantitative reasoning but don’t give the same weight to leadership development.” JWMI’s MBA program addresses this disconnect by infusing its curriculum with critical leadership lessons like hiring the right people, building great teams, managing conflict, and developing an executive presence, skills which are often overlooked by business schools.
The Journey to Become Successful Leaders:
Jack Welch, the Prime Pillar Holding the Citadel of JWMI
At the center of JWMI’s MBA program is Jack Welch, recently named as one of the “World’s Greatest Business Minds” and the “CEO of CEO’s” by Forbes Magazine. Jack is one of the world’s most respected and celebrated CEOs in history with an unmatched track record of developing people and leading them to success. The JWMI program is grounded in Jack’s 50 years of business expertise and passion for education. The courses leverage his proven people management canon and the valuable insights business leaders that he consults with around the world. His vision is embodied in the school’s mission to transform the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become successful leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win. And JWMI is achieving this – 95% of its graduating students stating their confidence as a leader has grown after the successful completion of the program. 
JWMI is also an early leader in online education, recognizing that working professionals who need the flexibility to earn a degree should not have to sacrifice a quality education. Other business schools are now acknowledging the demand for online options. In 2015, US News & World Report reported 146 schools with an online MBA. This year, the magazine ranked 282 online MBA programs—a nearly 100% increase in just three years. Since 2010, JWMI has been educating and empowering working professionals online. To date, more than 1,500 students earned their degrees through JWMI’s online MBA program, and over 2,100 are currently enrolled.
Following a Practical Learning Approach to Conquer Real-life Problems
To cater to the needs of busy working professionals, JWMI adheres to a “Learn Today. Apply Tomorrow.” philosophy. Students can expect a rigorous, relevant, real-world education that can be applied to the job the next day. Students are reaping the benefits, with two out of three graduating students receiving a promotion while enrolled. 
JWMI’s practical approach to business education spans the classroom from weekly discussion questions, case studies, assignments, and team projects. According to Dean Mary Carr, “Jack’s influence ensures that our assessments are real and practical. We don’t just talk about an executive presence in the classroom – our students have to practice it via video presentations. We don’t just talk about measuring employee performance – our students must prepare a talent scorecard.”
Carr continues, “Even when it comes to studying more technical subjects such as finance, students learn to think from a CEO mindset, whether or not a position in the C-suite is their end goal. For example, in an accounting course at JWMI, students won’t just learn about debits and credits. They learn the importance of variance analysis, a tool a CEO would utilize to identify opportunities and prioritize resources. Jack’s vision and continued feedback ensure that we deliver a curriculum for working adults that is relevant and that our students are learning and applying every day.”
Students learn from various case studies about top companies and industries. The institution integrates The Wall Street Journal into its weekly discussion requirements. Students also have access to an exclusive Experts of Practice series. They learn proven leadership and business lessons from the executives of world’s finest companies including Berkshire Hathaway, Netflix, Starbucks, Medtronic, Sam’s Club, Marriott, McDonald’s and many other global organizations.
Driving Student Satisfaction through Assessment and Feedback
Further, to deliver on its commitment to provide a high return on investment for students, the institution surveys its students based on their experience with its services, curriculum, and faculty. This survey enables JWMI to take actions quickly and maintain an environment of trust and transparency. JWMI also uses Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure student satisfaction. A joint LinkedIn and EMBA Council research study with a survey of 1,887 MBA graduates reported an NPS of only 27 for their programs. JWMI’s score averaged above 80 over the last year, which closely aligns with the best customer service organizations such as Southwest and Apple.
And unlike many educational institutions, JWMI holds its faculty accountable to student outcomes and satisfaction, both critical drivers of its NPS excellence. Sharing his thoughts on this approach, Mike Zeliff, Dean of Faculty & Students, says, “At JWMI, we practice differentiation, not tenure. We celebrate the top 20 percent of faculty and coach the middle 70 percent to improve their effectiveness. We might have to part ways with the bottom 10 percent, as teaching in an online environment might not be suited to their skill set.”
Likewise, to provide a high level of support in the classroom, JWMI strives to maintain a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio. When founding the school, Jack Welch wanted to build a faculty team with real-world experience that can bring course material to life. Therefore, not only are JWMI academically qualified, but they also have at least ten years of professional experience within their particular industry and discipline. Such professionals with in-depth subject knowledge help students understand critical concepts and improve the level of their engagement in the program.
Cross-Platform Availability for Fast and Flexible Learning
JWMI understands that working professionals don’t want to – or can’t – show up for a lecture at night or during the weekend, even if it’s online. It’s the very reason JWMI is designed as an asynchronous program. This structure serves students well who need to balance families, careers, and personal lives. The institution also understands that today’s consumers expect to access information at any time, anywhere in the world, and often on their phones. To adapt to the changing expectations of students, courses are built mobile-first so that students can attend class on their schedules, not the school’s.
Since its establishment, JWMI has been committed to keeping pace with the needs of today’s adult students and changes in the education field. Sharing her thoughts on JWMI’s efforts to fulfill student demands, Dean Mary Carr says, “We’ve witnessed the industry make great strides over the past decade, but we never stop thinking about the future and how to pioneer learning techniques.”
The school is evaluating advanced technologies like virtual case studies and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve student outcomes. In addition, the team is exploring new delivery methods like experiential learning portfolio, on-ground intensives, and overseas partnerships to meet the scheduled demands of students. To build its online community, JWMI hosts regular virtual, local networking events, and company visits. The leadership focus of the program and its commitment to innovation ensures that students leave JWMI with a real understanding of how to win in business and life.
1. JWMI 2018 Graduate survey: 391 survey respondents among 407 JWMI students surveyed during the final term of their program.
2. Based on 1,214 survey respondents among 1,281 JWMI students surveyed during the final term of their MBA program between January 2015 and December 2018.