PHOTO: CEO Connect students work on a case study at the Spark Idea Center in Cool Springs. // KRISTI JONES, Lipscomb University
By RUSSELL VANNOZZI
The path to becoming a CEO is almost never any easy one.
Years of schooling and advancing through the corporate ranks can make for a successful career, but how can leaders make it to the pinnacle of the business world?
Lipscomb University’s Spark Idea Center has created one solution with its CEO Connect leadership program, which was introduced last year.
The class pairs a group of mid- to upper-level managers with Nashville CEOs, allowing emerging leaders to learn from established business executives.
“The participants love it, and the CEOs love teaching,” Lipscomb Spark Idea Center Director of Business Development Jane Hutson said. “(CEO’s) like to stand in front of these high-potential emerging leaders and they appreciate the fact that these folks want to learn about the role at the top.”
The program began with a pilot class of 25 participants in 2017, but it will expand to 50 this year. The participants will be split between Lipscomb’s Cool Springs and downtown Nashville Spark locations.
Huston said the CEO Connect program was inspired by Lipscomb President Dr. Randolph Lowry III, who wanted to find ways to serve the Nashville business community.
CEO Connect runs for eight months and costs $4,500 per participant, or $3,500 for non-profit employees. However, Hutson said that nearly 100 percent of the expenses are paid for by employers.
“It’s such an incredible opportunity to be able to learn from these CEOs,” Huston said. “(Employers) view it as part of a developmental plan.”
Huston described the typical participant profile as a “leader of leaders.”
“They’re not right out of college or new to a leadership position,” she said. “But they have been identified by their employers as emerging leaders with high potential.”
Worth Scott, a former Vanderbilt baseball standout and current Vice President of Operations at Batten & Shaw, participated in last year’s program and said he’s already implemented some of the ideas he learned from the speakers.
“They have their own unique stories about the paths they followed,” Scott said in a release provided by the school. “I appreciate the candor the instructors brought to us.”
Nominations for the 2018-19 class will be accepted through Aug. 31. The program will begin in September with Nashville Chamber of Commerce CEO Ralph Schulz and Vanderbilt University Medical Center CEO Mitch Edgeworth as the first session’s featured speakers. Classes are typically held during work hours on Wednesday or Thursday.
PHOTO: The inaugural Lipscomb CEO Connect class graduated from the program last spring. / KRISTI JONES, Lipscomb University