The pilot class of Davenport University’s Certificate of Integrated Operations Management program graduated in late December after 12 weeks of a condensed curriculum on operations management, project management and quality management.
CIOM is one of several interdisciplinary certificate programs offered by DU’s Institute for Professional Excellence.
“Our program uniquely highlights learning efficiencies by combining topics you might experience in a traditional academic class,” IPEx Executive Director Daniel Rundhaug said. “You not only learn the theories and concepts, but you also put that knowledge into practice through discussion, analysis, simulation, project work and corporate visits.”
The first class, facilitated by Professor Frank Novakowski, included:
- Scott Tompsett, manager of Extol PMO
- Jake Vander Ploeg, MRO buyer at SEKISUI SPI
- Jared Osborne, senior production supervisor at Flexfab
Novakowski has held positions that have given him a broad understanding of marketing, sales, customer services, manufacturing, human resources and general management — including serving as president and CEO of two manufacturing firms.
“As a supervisor, learning about project management through the CIOM program was the biggest bang for our buck,” Osborne said. “I can take it and apply it at our organization.”
Fresh perspectives from peers
Because of the diversity in the kind of organizations and employees who enrolled in the CIOM certificate program, the participants said they gained new perspectives.
“It was good to bounce ideas off of the others,” said Osborne, who has worked at Flexfab for the past 20 years. “We had plenty of class discussions together just saying, ‘Hey how do you do this?’ The program is worth going through. It pushes the working professional to the next step.”
For Tompsett, the benefit of the CIOM program was learning to communicate how project management, quality engineering and operations come together, and interacting with the other participants.
“I was able to speak from experience with my background in project management,” Tompsett said. “The other individuals in the class could also ask a peer about certain experiences and we could lean in with our experiences and backgrounds on their projects. The freedom to share and speak about your personal experience was very beneficial because we are all living it.”
Vander Ploeg found value in the program’s focus on quality.
“As we worked through the material, the point Frank was trying to make is that the quality of the organization has to be intact for everything else to work out,” Vander Ploeg said. “It wasn’t about quality as in product quality or a quality department, but rather establishing good practices to enhance the overall quality of the organization.”
The participants also had the opportunity to take off-site tours at Steelcase and JW Marriott to see the operations at other organizations within the service and manufacturing industries.
Putting theory into practice
CIOM program participants are required to complete an employer-driven project in which they will develop an operations/process improvement plan to support performance within their organization.
“This is an opportunity for the participant and their sponsoring organization to identify a significant project that draws upon the three disciplines of the program: Quality, project and operations management,” Novakowski said. “The project is designed to engage the participant as they progress weekly through the content and apply the learning to a specific problem or challenge that is of value to their firm.”
As part of the project, the participant confers frequently with managers and specialists in their firm as well as their program facilitator. They report progress on a weekly basis, sharing their learning and application with others in their program group.
“This project is truly an experiential learning opportunity,” Novakowski said. “At the conclusion of the program, they present their completed project to the managers of their firm.”
The CIOM program is designed for professionals who manage business operations or are involved in operations planning, as well as those who lead teams. It also is relevant to managers within an organization’s function, such as accounting, finance or HR.
“Today’s organizations need operations managers who can think analytically, communicate effectively, and execute efficiently,” Rundhaug said. “This program helps prepare them to succeed and thrive in today’s competitive and global environment.”
CIOM also meets academic degree course requirements and enables a participant to earn up to nine undergraduate or three graduate program credit hours. This benefits participants who wish to continue in a degree program with DU.