Video production: Andrew Kennedy Lewis
The first corporate universities were established more than 60 years ago. A lot has changed in the time since, and there has been ongoing debate about the most important elements of a corporate university, its core purpose and even its basic definition. Daniel Gandarilla, vice president and CLO of Texas Health Resources, and David Vance, executive director of the Center for Talent Reporting and former president at Caterpillar University, share their thoughts on today’s corporate university model.
Read the full transcript of Gandarilla’s and Vance’s interviews below:
Gandarilla: Defining a corporate university has been an ongoing dilemma. There’s multiple people that have taken to certain types of definitions, whether it’s engaging in solving the problems of the business or really helping to engage the workforce to create sort of a purpose and overarching culture. And it’s probably somewhere in between.
Vance: Well, there isn’t just one definition, and that’s one of our challenges in the profession. If you asked me what the most important elements of a corporate university are, I think one, to be aligned to the business needs of the organization. Two, to have as global, as large a role as you can have within your remit for responsibility. If you’re a global company, a corporate university should have some oversight of learning globally.
Gandarilla: You have to be able to engage the workforce to get them understanding their purpose. But also to help them solve — or the organization solve — its business challenges.
Vance: Also, to be very focused on efficiency, so I think a CEO would expect that when you have a corporate university, they are looking out across all the things you do and coming up with the most efficient and least cost solutions for those. I think a corporate university would also want to try to identify what common global or enterprise-wide business needs are and to meet those with learning.
Gandarilla: I think people’s representation, mental model of what a university is hasn’t really changed even though we know there’s a lot of new technology and resources out there. So what we’re trying to do with Texas Health is keep the corporate university modern and to continue to make updates to how we look at that as opposed to keep it a stagnant image.