For business professionals who seek career growth, taking advantage of continual learning and development opportunities is critical. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find time for those opportunities in today’s workplaces and busy schedules. 

That’s where the USD Center for Professional Development (CPD) comes in.

The program grew out of USD’s Beacom School of Business about three years ago, but with the advent of the Community College of Sioux Falls, President Gestring saw an opportunity to expand. Now, with its base in Sioux Falls, the CPD has access to a much larger pool of business professionals, and it plans to grow its course offerings steadily each semester.

In fact, the CPD has already been able to triple the size of its course catalog, offering 14 classes this spring in comparison to the four it offered last fall. 

Linda Halliburton is the associate dean for the CPD, and she says the course offerings provide professionals with an excellent and important opportunity for development.

“In our community, we’re never going to have as many employees as we want,” Halliburton said. “If we’re going to thrive as a community we have to invest in the employees we already have.”

The target demographic is professionals, typically between 25 and 40 years old, who are moving up in their organizations or seeking solutions to challenges they may be experiencing at work. The courses are also appropriate for people who are seeking a job transition, whether into a new role or an entirely new company. With class sizes limited to 30 students, the courses also provide a valuable networking opportunity. 

And while it may sound like the CPD only serves those working their way through a corporate structure, many of the courses offer great benefits to entrepreneurs as well. 

“Entrepreneurs are quite often focused on getting things started, and their energy and money goes there, but it’s the leadership and people management part of the business that’s critical to their long-term success,” Halliburton said. 

How is the program structured?

The CPD has three areas of focus: Management and Leadership, Communication Skills for Professionals, and Professional Development for HR Pros. 

Each focus area offers between three and six courses, covering a range of topics from conflict navigation to business writing to strategic workforce planning. View a full course catalog here

Courses are taught by local professionals who are considered highly skilled in their fields. 

For example, Vaney Hariri and Tamien Dysart of Think3D Solutions will be teaching a course titled, “Communicating Effectively in the 21st Century Workplace: Real-World Techniques You Can Use Now.” 

Kira Kimball of Marsh & McLennan Agency will be teaching a course on diversity and inclusion. 

“She has been very active in Sioux Falls, trying to bring a local chapter of the National Diversity Council to town,” said Halliburton. “She recently attended a certification by them, and will be one of the few, if not the only person in Sioux Falls, to have that prestigious designation.”

Another instructor, Joel Sylvester of 5 Star Call Center, is teaching a course titled, “Building a Five-Star Customer Service Plan: Design Your Customer Service.” Sylvester excels in defining the customer service philosophy, and he has spoken around the country about developing strong customer service teams.

“Every single one of these people has a passion for developing people,” Halliburton said. “They’re bringing real world experience to the classroom, and they’re able to facilitate dialogue in a way that people can really learn and grow while they’re there.”

View a full list of instructors here.

Course offerings are designed to target areas of growth for professionals, and for those who may be seeking a new position, participation is a powerful way to demonstrate that commitment to growth. 

If an individual completes any four courses through the CPD program, they will receive an Essential Leadership Certificate. The four courses do not have to be taken in the same semester. 

According to Halliburton, the positive results of these classes are clear. 

“The most rewarding thing is seeing who comes to the classes and hearing about the difference they’ve made in people’s lives” she said. “We had a writing class last fall where a participant came up to me afterward and said, ‘I was just dreading this, but you’ve made it such an enjoyable day, and I’m going to make some changes right away tomorrow.’”

Most of the courses are designed to encompass just one day, though a few meet twice. The condensed nature of the classes makes them manageable for professionals to fit into their schedules, and it also creates a tight focus on those key takeaways.

“Often people will attend a conference and go back to work the next day, and nothing will be different,” Halliburton said. “We end each day with an action plan to determine the most important thing they learned and how they’ll apply it and stay accountable.”

Registering for a CPD course

Anyone is welcome to take part in a CPD course, and classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no registration deadline, so if classes have available seats, walk-ins are welcome. 

However, Halliburton does recommend registering as soon as possible to ensure both a spot and a lunch. 

The first course, “Extreme Productivity: Create an Extraordinary Quality of Life,” taught by Lisa Te Slaa, takes place on Wednesday, March 4. From there, classes run through the end of May.  

Pricing varies for each class, but there are discounts available for groups. Additionally, if a company wishes to send a large group (typically 12 or more participants), there are options for hosting the class on-site at a different time. 

Halliburton emphasizes that everyone is welcome at these classes, and there is no application process or degree requirement. 

“If someone self-identifies that this is something they want to learn about, all they need to do is sign up,” she said. 

For questions or to request more information on group pricing, contact Linda Halliburton at 605-274-9519 or [email protected]

Two Things You Can Do This Week:

  • Browse the course catalog, and register online for one of the Spring 2020 courses.
  • Follow the USD Center for Professional Development on LinkedIn for updates on upcoming class offerings.