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Anne Auer
Kelley School of Business

George Vlahakis
IU Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, August 28, 2012

IU Kelley School of Business launches Kelley Compass, the first 'student talent management system'

Undergraduates begin preparing as freshmen for professional lives

Aug. 28, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- With concerns about employment at a high and employers' needs evolving swiftly, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business has taken an unprecedented step: putting freshmen on a path to navigate their careers.

Taking a page from the corporate world, the school has launched Kelley Compass, an intensive "talent management system" for personal and professional development, while also enriching its academic program to deepen students' facility with global business, ethics and critical thinking -- elements essential to future success.

"The rules of the game for today's global business world are fluid, so students and schools must approach professional development as rigorously and thoughtfully as we do our bedrock academics programs," said Tom Lenz, chair of the Kelley School's undergraduate program. "At Kelley, we've integrated into our core curriculum growth opportunities that form a 'bridge' from high school and family to university and business life."

Believed to be the first program of its kind, Kelley Compass entails three years of educational experiences suited to the developmental needs of freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Each of the more than 900 incoming students will be assigned a career advisor and an academic advisor who will track with the student over three years and collaborate with Compass course instructors, ensuring the greatest possible support, coaching and counsel.

Kelley Compass: Staging students' development throughout college

A team of eight instructors led by Susan Vargo, co-director of communication, professional and computer skills, will guide students through three sequential courses:

I: The Individual (first year). Focuses on Who am I? What do I want? How am I going to get there? Through interest/skills inventories, students develop self-awareness, discover what's possible and what they want. They analyze their cultural/ethical influences, life experiences and values/priorities, and prepare skills/activities resumes.

II: The Team (sophomores). Immerses students in teamwork, building critical-thinking skills and cross-cultural competence. Working with local and virtual teams, students learn to manage first impressions; manage conflicting ethics; lead meetings; prepare mock interviews; produce a product; and practice business etiquette.

III: The Professional (juniors). Provides a practical approach to leadership and decision-making, focusing on setting goals, forming action plans and assessing results. Students will work on multi-dimensional team projects and examine perspectives from a variety of individuals with vested interests.

"A fulfilling career goes beyond making money," said Vargo, who will ultimately oversee career and life preparation for thousands of undergraduates. "With Kelley Compass, students will identify their talents, passions and related career paths -- perhaps ones they didn't even know existed. We are also teaching them how to navigate the many unknowns and rough spots the world of work may bring over a lifetime."

New academic courses underscore global lens, ethics and critical thinking

Kelley Compass is accompanied by changes to the undergraduate academic program that address pressing business and market issues while reinforcing students' readiness to work globally in any industry and develop as ethical, strategic leaders. The new Global Foundations Core (G-Core) in sophomore year ensures students will: understand social, economic and political contexts in which businesses operate; learn about global business broadly, then apply skills learned from their intended majors; and have increased "business in action" opportunities outside the U.S.

The Integrative Core (I-Core) in junior year concentrates on major functional fields -- finance, marketing and operations, for example -- viewed through a global lens, with emphasis on their interdependence within a business. Case studies and projects support students' development in decision-making, teamwork and leadership. I-Core also incorporates business prerequisites and non-business classes required by Indiana University.

Kelley expands its ethics training with a new course underscoring concepts of applied business ethics. This will guide students in identifying an ethical dilemma, engaging in ethical reasoning, taking personal stances and resolving an ethical quandary from the industries they plan to enter after graduation.

"Pursuit of learning, in all its levels and forms, should always be a goal, but a college degree is not enough to land a 'dream job,'" said Daniel C. Smith, dean of the Kelley School. "We believe that our deliberate approach to career planning will give graduates a surer start and the skills to flourish in global job markets that may be equal parts uncertain and exciting."

Changes will maximize new technological capabilities

The new offerings at Kelley complement the $60 million expansion and renovation of Hodge Hall, Kelley's main undergraduate building, which will considerably grow the current building's footprint, adding meeting rooms, student workspace and 20 classrooms. Most important, its state-of-the-art technologies will allow students to connect with the global network of Kelley alumni (among the world's largest); interact in real time with executives and government officials; and collaborate on projects with business students at universities around the world.

"With new technology on campus, students will have the opportunity to discover not only their roles as global business leaders, but also as citizens of the world," said Christopher Kauffman, '14, a third-generation Kelley student and a member of the Undergraduate Student Task Force that provided input into Kelley Compass and curriculum changes.