“The Gordon Engineering Leadership Program teaches engineers how to be focused yet aware of the big picture in order to get to their end results and meet their goals. They are taught to conduct strategic analyses while being able to think on their feet because most likely they will encounter obstacles that will need to be worked through in a creative way.”
Director of Transducer Technology Group
Founded in 1964, Bose Corporation is one of the largest and best-known audio technology developers and product manufacturers in the United States and throughout the world.
Laura Schroeder is Director of Transducer Technology Group at Bose Corporation, an Industry Partner to the Gordon Institute since 2009. Schroeder is also a strong advocate of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program. As part of the employee nomination committee, Schroeder is proud to support ambitious and high achieving Bose engineers to attend the Gordon Institute of Engineering Leadership annually.
“While it can be challenging, we usually succeed at finding engineers who are strong technically. What is much more difficult is to find individuals who have leadership potential,” says Schroeder when describing what the company seeks out in its employees. “The Gordon Engineering Leadership Program exposes engineers to what it means to be a leader. It challenges them to see the distinction between managers and leaders and to fully understand the differences. The Program not only identifies the skills needed to be a leader, but also identifies ways to develop and grow those skills through hands-on coursework and the Challenge Project.”
The Challenge Project is a key component of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program curriculum. It is a great opportunity to incorporate classroom learning into a company-sponsored Project with guidance from a Gordon Mentor.
“The Gordon Engineering Leadership Program lays a strong foundation for the success of the Challenge Project. The curriculum helps students develop a keen ability to see the big picture when assessing the value of a project. It helps them develop not only critical thinking but also strategic planning that takes into account the business implications, the marketing perspective, the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and risks of a project, and the ROI for the company. All of that and more is taken into account when developing the Challenge Project and then working through it,” describes Schroeder.
The Challenge Project can bring financial and other benefits to the team and company. “One of the Challenge Projects our engineer worked on helped us realize that a group was going to duplicate manufacturing capital. His work enabled us to assess a decrease in cycle time for that particular manufacturing process, which otherwise could have resulted in under-utilized capital,” recalls Schroeder. “Well-executed Challenge Projects can be leveraged on multiple occasions. In fact, a group recently experienced quality issues and was advised to refer back to the report of the Challenge Project, which had addressed solutions for these particular issues.”
Tim Parker is a Process Development Engineer at Bose Corporation and a 2014 Gordon Fellow. Early in the Program Tim identified “Vision” as one of the areas he wanted to further develop. Upon completion of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, Tim was given a strategic new initiative to lead. He has been working cross-functionally with the Product and Manufacturing divisions with the goal of assessing the financial viability of bringing a new core competency into the company.
“Since the Gordon Program and the Challenge Project, Tim has demonstrated a strong ability to grasp a range of perspectives, listen to the needs and challenges of different teams, and understand the value of benchmarking to assess the project’s viability. Tim understands the importance of strategic analysis, which encompasses many facets of the organization at the macro- and micro-level. He understands that strategic thinking is not tactical; instead it addresses the question ‘Why would we as a company want to do this over the long term?’,” says Schroeder when discussing one of the Bose engineers who has attended the Gordon Institute. “I don’t know if he would have been able to carry out such a strategic analyses without the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program. At the least, it would have required us to dedicate a substantial amount of time internally to help guide him through it, which we may not have been able to do in a structured and effective way.”
In addition to developing his Vision capabilities, Tim has also excelled in his interpersonal and communications skills. “As the leader of the initiative, Tim has been an effective presenter, negotiator, and influencer. He has been the one pitching the project at the executive level and showing what its impact would be on Bose,” says Schroeder when describing other professional areas Tim has further developed at the Gordon Institute.
Like a number of large organizations, Bose Corporation has its own Internal Leadership Program catered primarily to mid- and senior-level leaders who have been at the company for some time. While it is effective, it has a key drawback when compared to an external program like that offered by the Gordon Institute.
“One of biggest distinctions between the Gordon Program and Bose’s program is that the latter is internal. All participants are Bose employees who are already engrained into the culture and the ‘Bose way’, which can lead to groupthink,” contrasts Schroeder. “One of the values of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program is that there is a diverse student body of engineers from other companies, whose views have been influenced by their own professional experiences and their companies’ procedures. It exposes our engineers to different perspectives and fresh ideas. This new network can further identify best practices and help develop knowledge that can be introduced internally.”
The Gordon Engineering Leadership Program receives great accolades from Gordon Fellows and their companies. “It is impressive and very telling that so many engineers that have gone through the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program consistently think so highly of it and are convinced of the value the Program has brought them and their companies,” reflects Schroeder on the impact the Gordon Institute has had on its participants. “The Gordon Engineering Leadership Program cultivates engineers’ leadership capabilities through its hands-on coursework, networking, and Challenge Project. I’m impressed by the discipline and perseverance exhibited by our engineers who have attended the Gordon Institute.”
Learn more about becoming an Industry Partner, like Bose Corporation, with the Gordon Institute.
If you are a prospective student, then learn more about joining the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program.
Read other Industry Spotlights.