In his new role as director of the application platform service line in the Worldwide Services division of Redmond, Washington-based software giant Microsoft Corp., Courtenay Yates wanted to retool for the formidable task of overseeing the division’s international business strategy and operations.
“Transitioning from a functionally centered, regional position to one with global senior-level responsibilities requires a broadened approach to management,” Yates says.
Seeking to augment his skill set, the aspiring C-suite executive enrolled in June 2008 in the Stanford Executive Program, a management course for business leaders that have global accountability. The six-week, in-residence course is made up of business lectures, large- and small-group discussions, and business case research. Participants examine the demands of top leadership, explore the complexities of organizational dynamics, acquire a deeper understanding of managerial decisions, and construct a framework for building high-performing organizations.
“Completing the program equipped me to work more efficiently across the entire enterprise and to work as part of a team to increase our division’s competitive advantage in the global marketplace,” he says.
Yates uses the following strategies he learned in the course to harness his newfound management savvy and produce optimal results:
Maintain a dynamic equilibrium. “Change is constant,” insists Yates. A well thought-out strategic framework requires a rigorous balance between current operating strategies that drive existing revenue streams and those that address emerging opportunities that are poised to generate significant revenues in the future, he explains. Yates is committed to thinking long term, soliciting constant feedback, embracing ambiguity, and adapting to shifting priorities.
Manage extended market and nonmarket environments. To consistently drive innovation, Yates continually assesses the social, political, economic, and technical trends in the global marketplace. These findings help his team anticipate fluctuations in commerce, trade, and investments affected by these macroeconomic factors. “You have to continually ask yourself, what is the next seismic shift in the global marketplace in terms of technology, services, and products? What big bets do we need to make to keep us relevant and allow us to be market leaders in the new competitive landscape?”
Leverage all of your expertise. “Great management is cumulative,” Yates asserts, “and requires that you leverage strategy maps, execution plans, and talent management programs, and that you constantly assess and re-engineer key processes to reduce cycle times and drive repeatable, scalable results.”
For more information, log on to www.gsb.stanford.edu.
This article originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.