Executive Education

3 Custom Programs That Empower Executives to Meet Today’s Business Challenges

In these unprecedented times, the need for customized learning programs that equips executives with the agility and resilience to tackle real-time business challenges, has never been more deeply felt.

Roddy Millar  underlines this very point in his piece on the future of executive education for Developing Leaders Quarterly: “A new level of customization is being ushered in,” he affirms, “not only designed with an organization’s goals in mind, but with new targeting, at a granular level, to the specific needs and wants of individual participants within the program.”

In short, volatile times call for elastic measures. And for forward-thinking executives, that means a renewed emphasis on bespoke training programs that are responsive and tailored to the specific challenges that  business leaders are currently facing in their companies.. 

“(This is) a time of unprecedented crisis,” states  Olivier Sibony, an Affiliate Professor of Strategy & Business Policy at HEC Paris. “Uncertainty is here to stay. It’s not going to go away, so we need to find new ways to think about how we plan our strategies and how we plan our futures.”

To that end, we at HEC Paris have engineered custom (and highly topical) programs in three key areas.

1. Rebooting business in the New Normal.

Though we may now be in year three of a pandemic, the existential business problems that continue to bubble up and be thrown our way hardly feel less novel. 

As COVID-19 variants emerge and wane — then emerge again — there’s no telling as to when this period of unprecedented crisis will have fully run its course. Much more likely is that the spillover economic and social impacts of the virus, and the uncertainty that both engender, are here to stay. And, to be effective business leaders in this VUCA world, executives must learn to navigate a future characterized by this uncertainty.

There is, in short, no back to normal. And that isn’t meant to sound fatalistic. Rather, we must accept this inevitability and shift the business paradigm in a more innovative and resilient direction. Doing that requires a command of four key competencies — which is why we’ve made them the bedrock of our Rebooting Business in the New Normal custom training for executives. These key competencies are:

  • Strategic thinking and decision-making — or, cracking complex problems using advanced decision making in contexts of high uncertainty. 
  • Developing an innovation mindset — or, exploring new, sustainable directions to reinvent your business.
  • Value creation — or, creating value through agile, resilient sourcing strategies that consider social dilemmas.
  • Leading change — or, through collective intelligence, identifying key levers,  and mastering the human dimension of change.

2. Leading teams in the New Normal.

The reality of an extended New Normal — one that’s permanently reshaped the way we live and work — calls for new managerial competencies. The predictable, late-20th century business world may have rewarded efficiency most, but today, volatility and uncertainty have placed new value on resilience, and on leaders who foster it. 

New forms of leadership and new ways of mobilizing and motivating teams, informed by the ecosystem we now exist in, are crucial. Professionals today, after all, have never faced more challenges — or had more options. Workers’ search for meaning and increased skepticism toward the value in spending years at the same employer have made the role of managers more critical to company stewardship than ever before. 

HEC Paris’ Leading Teams in the New Normal custom program unpacks what’s required of truly effective leaders today by exploring resilience at the individual, team and organizational levels. It also hones in on the following key competencies: 

  • Building stronger foundations — or, deepening self-awareness and building relationships that are rooted in trust and a clear sense of purpose. 
  • Developing your agility — or, adopting agile methods and, through a learning mindset and a culture of experimentation and risk taking, leading change.

3. Boosting sales in the New Normal.

In today’s new business landscape, existing sales blueprints have been turned on their heads, leaving companies to rethink their overall customer engagement and go-to-market strategies. Ongoing transformations in the sales function have accelerated dramatically, and the role of salespeople themselves looks a lot different, too, with firms relying on inside staff, online tools and data. 

With increasing frequency, sales leaders must adapt, again and again, their approaches in response to a volatile market. If they’re to find new ways of achieving higher levels of sales productivity and success against this backdrop, a few key competencies — as outlined in HEC Paris’ Boosting Sales in the New Normal custom program — must be honed:

  • Agility and resilience in the new context — or, anticipating changes for your internal and external customers, as well as the forces likely to impact your business.
  • Leveraging data analysis — or, through data, rethinking how to leverage the effectiveness of sales forces after a crisis.
  • Building relationships based on trust — or, establishing a dialogue around customers’ new challenges and needs for support while reinventing a value proposition within this context. 

The beauty of bespoke programs? Any of the above high-urgency areas can be, in tandem with organizations and their key stakeholders, co-designed with HEC Paris in order to address the real-time competencies a company needs to target most. It’s a deep dive into your organization’s specific context and challenges — one that, in this era of constant change, can leave executives more prepared, agile and resilient at a time they need it most.


You can find out more about how HEC Paris Executive Custom Programs can help you meet the challenges that lie ahead here. You can also follow our latest news and insights on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

About the Author

HEC Paris specializes in education and research in management sciences. As a leading academic institution in Europe and worldwide, HEC Paris offers a complete and unique range of education programs for students and executive education programs for leaders.