For Your Benefit: Leadership Learning

Back to the Future With a Revised Program

By Barbara Fischkin

Loïc Audusseau, chief technology officer at Bronx Community College, believes this: “As a leader, I am only as good as my team.”

With both state-of-the-art management and teamwork on his agenda, Audusseau will participate this spring in a re-launch of CUNY’s Executive Leadership Program. He was nominated to attend by BCC President Carole Berotte Joseph.

Loic Audusseau, seated, chief technology officer at Bronx Community College, and, left to right, teammates Jonathan Lacay, Jonathan Guerra and Luisa Martich.

Loic Audusseau, seated, chief technology officer at Bronx Community College, and, left to right, teammates Jonathan Lacay, Jonathan Guerra and Luisa Martich.

Simply put, the University-wide Executive Leadership Program that Audusseau and 21 other executives from throughout the University plan to attend is akin to continuing education for senior level executives — a series of training sessions to enable them to become even better at what they do.

This benefits the entire University; these executives and their decisions, projects and direction affect thousands of CUNY employees.

According to Gloriana B. Waters, the University’s vice chancellor for Human Resources Management, the Executive Leadership Program —first offered in 2002 — has been “redesigned to respond to the challenges faced by today’s higher education executive.”

Audusseau agrees that he is familiar with such challenges. Recruiting, retaining and retraining information-technology staff in colleges and universities has become far more difficult because of “very aggressive” recruiting by both private and public corporations, he said. Speaking of the entire University, he emphasized, “This is an institutional problem and a threat to research and academic programs, not just to operations or administrative systems.”

At BCC, an internal leadership program for some of its key IT employees has, “among other things, helped us retain our pivotal players,” Audusseau added.

Now the BCC technology officer hopes to share what he has learned with other executives — and to learn from them. He has been at CUNY about a year and before that was vice president for information systems at the French Institute Alliance Française.

There also will be new ideas to absorb for attendee Arlene Isaacson, business manager of Guttman Community College.

“I’ve worked on established campuses before, but never helped build one,” said Isaacson, referring to Guttman’s status as the University’s first new community college in 40 years. “This requires a new set of skills … we need to develop staff [who will] … focus on scale so that the things we do today will serve us well not just now, but when we are twice the size, and then three times the size and greater,” Isaacson said. Regarding Isaacson’s participation, Guttman President Scott Evenbeck said that along with learning from others at the sessions, Isaacson, “will be such a strong participant as she shares her own experiences with others.”

The program, itself, has been part of the culture of the University since that first session in 2002 was offered “to foster an integrated University and to assist the colleges in retaining strong, effective and visionary leaders who understand and promote organizational change.” In 2009, the University presented an Executive Leadership Alumni Academy of those who had participated in four previous programs. Many of the Leadership Alumni serve in executive positions throughout the University.

This year’s revamped program will be held — at no cost to the colleges or the Central Office — for eight days in April, May and June, with the first session at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on April 24. Attendees were nominated by a college president, as were Audusseau and Isaacson — or by a university vice chancellor — and they are required to be members of the University’s Executive Compensation Program, although in positions below the titles of vice president, administrator or provost. Attendees are expected from eight senior colleges, seven community colleges, the CUNY School of Law School, The CUNY Graduate Center and the Central Office.

The program is expected to include these topics: “coaching yourself and others,” “defusing anger,” “creativity and innovation,” “diversity and inclusion,” “fundraising,” and “ethics in public service,” among others.

BCC’s Audusseau hopes that the program will not only help him to encourage others to accept change but also to do so himself. Being able to accept change, he said, “is often an invitation to rise to another level, to test yourself, to improve in the process, to show that you can accomplish something that may seem difficult, or even impossible.”