University of South Florida


ctpe grad shakes hand of instructor

CTPE instructor Shane Wentz shakes the hand of an Amazon employee who just earned his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification. 

USF corporate training and professional education programs strengthening the workforce

By Donna Smith, University Communications and Marketing

Kristen Bubis, with long, dark hair, a dark suit jacket and white shirt

Kristen Bubis

When Kristen Bubis received her paralegal certificate from USF’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education in 2018, she was a single mom working as a paralegal at a law firm, wishing she could earn the credentials that would boost her income and career options. Flash forward to today, with a real estate license under her belt, Bubis has returned to USF to earn a paralegal specialty certification, allowing her to specialize in real estate law as a paralegal. 

“If you want to get into a certain area of law, you have to have experience,” Bubis said. “The specialty certification is a great way to get into a career in a field of law that I’m interested in.” 

Like Bubis, many in today’s workforce are looking to learn new technologies, techniques or methodologies to help them keep up with changes in their job requirements, industry demands or to make a complete career change. CTPE helps working professionals upskill and reskill their careers through more than 20 programs offering certificates, badges and exam preparation – all aligned with market demands. The corporate training division helps organizations across several industries including shipping, health care and the military upskill and reskill their employees through a variety of programs.  

“One of the keys to sustained economic growth and prosperity is a well-educated and well-trained workforce,” said Mark Koulianos, CTPE executive director. “We want USF to be a key provider of this service in the Tampa Bay area and throughout the state to help drive the success of our community and create a business environment that is known for the quality and competency of our workforce.”

a large group from amazon poses with their certificates

A group from Amazon show off their newly earned Lean Six Sigma certificates.

One of the university’s largest clients, Amazon, is investing in its workforce by hiring USF to work with managers in the logistics, robotics and fleet divisions, training them in the areas of process improvement, project management and leadership skills. This collaboration is in addition to Amazon Career Choice, a program funded by Amazon that pays tuition for its employees to attend USF. USF’s relationship with Amazon started at the local level and has continued to grow into different arenas that have broader and larger scope – including their global fleet team. David Hill, CTPE’s director of corporate sales and marketing, says what Amazon employees are learning at USF can be seen in Amazon’s processes.

“Participants in our Lean 6 Sigma courses complete process improvement projects that are clearly defined and developed that can be immediately implemented,” Hill said. “It’s really cool to see those projects utilized and, whether it is cost-saving or time-saving methodologies, they can come to fruition and positively impact the people working there.”

According to Koulianos, the demand for CTPE’s upskilling and reskilling programs is also on the rise, growing over the last decade from 1,000 enrollees to more than 5,000 students looking to add to their skillsets and earn more money.

“Say you’re doing an entry level job, and you want to be a project manager because you’ve heard they make great money and are important people in your company,” Koulianos said. “We are the place they can come to make that happen.”

A digital badge can be earned in as little as two weeks in a wide array of areas, with some of the most popular programs being paralegal, project management and human resources. 

“You can put one of our badges on your LinkedIn resume, and employers can click on it and see the metadata that says it’s certified by USF and also see the things you learned in the course,” Koulianos said. 

A room full of people seen from the back listen to an instructor in front of the room

A large group attends a Basic Economic Development class in preparation for the Certified Economic Developer exam.

Some, like the paralegal and human resources courses, are a series of short courses, each awarding a digital badge, that culminates in a certification.  

Courses are offered online to alleviate roadblocks, such as transportation or the need for childcare. Though most are taught live online, some of the courses are self-paced, with regular check-ins with the instructors who are all practitioners in the fields that they are teaching. Koulianos says that having instructors who are professionals gives their students an advantage. 

“I only use real-world consultants because we want people who are out in the world doing these things now, so they’ll be at the cutting edge of what’s going on,” Koulianos said.  

Koulianos says the opportunity to upskill or reskill is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity to stay on top of one’s game.

“As the world is changing, things that you may have learned a year ago or more may be out of date,” Koulianos said. “We want to be that place that people come to upskill or reskill, even though they may not have had the opportunity to come to USF for a degree. It broadens the university’s reach and offers the entire community the opportunity to do better for themselves and their families and their careers.”

Learn more about CTPE programs here

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