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“Post-Crisis Leadership” Certificate Holders Poised to Bring Back the Economy

By Keith Morelli

“Post-Crisis Leadership” Certificate Holders Poised to Bring Back the Economy

TAMPA (July 6, 2020) -- Fresh from graduating from a certification program at USF’s Muma College of Business, more than 6,000 participants are poised to lead their corporations, small businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurships into a market emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.

They are confident in their abilities after seven weeks or intense online instruction from a variety of faculty, giving data and insights into the best ways to proceed in a shaky but determined market landscape. Their feet are at the starting line and they are awaiting the signal to start what is more than just a footrace. They are at the front lines of bringing the nation’s economy back on track.

The idea for the program came about in March when business and corporate leaders were told to work remotely to stem the spread of the disease. Some were laid off. How could the college help them? By offering “Post-Crisis Leadership” certificate program that would give students the tools they need to navigate their businesses and corporations out of the crisis when the time came. Taking the offer one step further, the Muma College of Business picked up the tab for the participants. What normally would have cost each student about $3,000 was free of charge.

The response was overwhelming. Initially, the college anticipated a couple thousand participates, but more than 5,000 signed up. The course expanded its capacity to 5,200 and that filled immediately with an overflow wait list. Finally, the enrollment rose to 8,000 and that also filled quickly.

The program ended the first of July.

Rachel Piotrowski, who has bachelor’s degrees in international studies and anthropology from USF and who was recalled early from her Peace Corps assignment in Belize this spring because of the pandemic, is among the non-business-minded participants.

"COVID-19 is not the first major crisis we will face, nor will it be the last,” she said in a recent interview. “The ability to adapt and respond effectively to these crises is crucial for success across a variety of sectors."

The “Post-Crisis Leadership” certificate program not only reached those who endured the modules over several weeks to earn the certificate, but the benefit of the instruction even to those who know people attending.

The program presented a plethora of ideas on how to survive, build and succeed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Each participant can attest to that. But there is a trickle-down dynamic at play in this story, as told by Sheron Brown, executive director of the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, who initially was put on a waiting list for the program, but who was admitted at the last minute.

During a recent module titled Value Generation, one of the lecturers talked about how businesses should look at their pre-crisis services to consider alternative ways to add value to customers given the challenges COVID-19 has presented, she said.

“He shared this as a potential example: a cleaning service could expand its offerings to different types of businesses and inform prospective customers that the cleaners now provide services in alignment with CDC recommendations,” Brown said. “I immediately thought of my uncle in New York City because he owns a cleaning service that saw a great decrease in business during the lockdown period. I called my uncle to tell him what I had learned and the example that was provided.

“He hadn't thought of the CDC, but stayed up late that night combing his sales site and preparing a pitch,” she said. “He decided to spend the next day making calls. By late morning, he had already secured three contracts doing just what last night's professor recommended.

“My uncle was elated when he called to tell me and was preparing to create postcards as a part of his marketing strategy.”