Lawrence University and the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional and Executive Development (CPED) have launched a partnership to offer learning and development opportunities to the business community in the Fox Valley.

The partnership, facilitated through CPED, is providing immersive programs on critical skill development. The courses are being delivered online during the COVID-19 pandemic but will shift to in-person sessions on the Lawrence campus when it’s safe to do so.

Lawrence leadership first began talking with CPED Director of Corporate Partnerships Mark Seifert in late 2018, expressing interest in using Lawrence facilities and expertise to provide educational outreach in business skills development. Surveys and several rounds of meetings with executives from area organizations indicated there was interest.

Lawrence President Mark Burstein called the partnership a great opportunity for Lawrence to support area organizations in new ways.

“Many CEOs in northeastern Wisconsin have asked me over the past few years if Lawrence could offer learning opportunities for their staff that would be practical, tailored to their business needs, and locally delivered,” Burstein said. “Teaming with CPED has allowed us to fulfill this need, relying on the expertise of the Wisconsin School of Business and Lawrence’s local knowledge and talent.”

The first session in the partnership, How to Influence Without Direct Authority, held earlier this year, drew associates from Jewelers Mutual, Johnsonville Sausage, Michel’s Corporation and Schreiber Foods.

“This was a great cohort; each of them worked on creating a strategy for influencing something pretty big in their organizations,” said Susan Finerty, CPED instructor and author of Cross Functional Influence. “In a lot of ways, when it ended, I felt like I was leaving in the middle of a really great movie. I am anxious to know how all of these changes, ideas, and initiatives turn out.”

The responses from the course have been promising. It is traditionally a two-day immersive program helping leaders positively expand influence beyond their formal authority in order to ensure professional and organizational success. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program shifted to an online delivery, running six weeks via 75-minute weekly learning sessions.

The interactive sessions offered participants the opportunity to grow their professional networks and get real-time feedback on their progress. The Live Learning Sessions were complemented by pre- and post-work activities that included a multi-rater assessment tool, videos, readings, discussions, and a final project.

“I enjoyed the content presented and the time spent in the program,” said Rick Heck, business manager – enterprise projects at Schreiber Foods. “The content fit exceptionally well with my responsibilities of leading a team of dedicated project managers working cross-functionally in our organization. I recommend this program to others if their role requires them to truly influence others on a regular basis. The Influence Planner provides a framework from which to ‘script’ influence conversations and will be helpful going forward.”

A second cohort is scheduled to launch on Jan. 20. For information on this and other upcoming sessions, contact Mark Seifert at or visit