UofL answers industry need with customized professional development certificate in distilled spirits

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By Betty Coffman

Global spirits leader Beam Suntory provides continuous formal and on-the-job education to its employees – building knowledge around industry trends that support effective leadership skills. Whether it’s an employee in a technical role that requires a deeper understanding of the business or a new manager who is seeking skills to think strategically across functions, the employees have unique learning needs based on personal background and education.

To meet their education needs, the University of Louisville College of Business  recently worked with Beam Suntory to develop “Leading with Spirit,” a professional development program customized to the needs of the company and its employees. The program is built on UofL’s existing distilled spirits business certificate, with content added in project management and leading change.  Beam Suntory employees will benefit from courses led by industry experts, and a compressed 16-week, non-credit curriculum, which can be completed regardless of previous educational background.

“Our employees are deeply knowledgeable in their specific areas of the business and want to apply their background to the nuances of the spirits industry,” said Nicki Clifton, senior HR director, Supply Chain at Beam Suntory. “We are proud to provide a learning opportunity to them through the UofL College of Business and are appreciative of this partnership which supports our employees and their development goals.”

A pilot cohort for Leading with Spirit was launched in October with 10 Beam Suntory employees. The new certificate program will add industry-specific leadership and strategic management education to the employees’ resumes in just a few months, a much faster and more cost-effective solution than traditional degree programs.

The UofL College of Business has expertise in developing customized, industry-specific programs such as the new certificate for Beam Suntory to meet the needs of Louisville industries.

“With the development of the graduate certificate programs in niche industries in Louisville such as distilled spirits, we can fine-tune the programs to fit the specific needs of the audience and company,” said Jeff Guan, interim dean of the UofL College of Business. “Creating a non-graduate-degree version of a program allows flexibility to meet the need where the need exists. In this case, it’s created a great partnership with Bean Suntory.”

The original Distilled Spirits Business Certificate is an online certificate offered to graduate students that provides credits toward completion of an MBA. Developed to meet the needs of Kentucky’s important distilled spirits industry, the certificate covers regulations, sales and distribution, operations and supply chain management, sustainability and brand marketing. It is believed to be the only distilled spirits business certificate in the U.S.

Virginia Denny, assistant dean for executive education in UofL’s College of Business, said programs like  Leading with Spirit are becoming more important for both professionals and corporations.

“We are no longer in a world where we can think about education ending with a bachelor’s, master’s or even a PhD degree. We are living in a world of 60 years of curriculum. Technology is transforming so rapidly, we have to be there for students and companies in a different way,” Denny said. “That’s where the non-credit, executive education programs come into play. That is our future – the ability to play in the space between credit and non-credit and responding to the needs of corporate clients.”

Beam Suntory is a global premium spirits company headquartered in New York. They produce Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbons in Kentucky, Hibiki Japanese whisky in Japan and more than 70 other spirits brands around the world. Its 5,700 employees are in more than 90 locations on five continents.

Read on UofLNews.com here.