With Help from Higher Ed, L3Harris is Sending Its Employees Back to School

A Q&A with TAMU - Commerce Dean and Professor of Management, Shanan Gwaltney Gibson, Ph.D.

How did L3Harris connect with the College of Business (CoB) to create the program?

The program was conceptualized by L3Harris VP of Human Resources Tom Brown and a business area VP, Jack Cooke. Mr. Cooke was on the Business Executive Advisory Board of the CoB. Upon his retirement from L3Harris in 2009, he joined the full-time faculty of the CoB and initiated the cohort program with the assistance of Dean Dr. Hal Langford.

Is the cohort-based management degree available solely to L3Harris employees?

Yes, students are selected by L3Harris management for the cohort. L3Harris pays for all tuition, fees and materials required. Right now, the MS management class has about 115 students enrolled.

What sorts of theories, scenarios and lessons are in the curriculum?

The curriculum is essentially the same as the Master of Science Management degree for other graduate students of the college, with the addition of a graduate course in business law that has been taught by an L3Harris corporate lawyer. The electives are, in actuality, prescribed and include courses in human resource management, managing groups and teams, leadership theory and practice, and transforming organizations. The cohort approach allows the instruction to be tailored to L3Harris by teaching generalized theory and then mapping it to company practice. Cases, class projects and the participation of L3Harris executives and midlevel managers are included in the lectures.

Do these classes help student employees advance in the L3Harris organization? How?

Yes, the students have previously been identified by L3Harris management in their human resources review process as candidates for development and advancement. The degree is just one step in a program that includes in-house mentorship and instruction to prepare candidates to assume management positions within the corporation. A number of the graduates have been promoted to project and functional management positions within the company.

Is this scalable?

Yes, we are looking to expand this model and make it available to other organizations that see benefit in a program that includes a strategic partnership with an AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)-accredited college of business.

This article is part of the 2020 Higher Education Review Magazine.