Smith Custom Programs

Women’s leadership development programs designed for your organization

Companies with the most female leadership consistently outperform those with the least. Smith Custom Programs are proven to increase the advancement and retention of women leaders – and that means better business outcomes across the board.

When you partner with Smith College Executive Education to design a custom program for your organization, you get a program that addresses the critical needs you identify for your workforce – with your company culture built into every session.

About

 The Custom Difference

Experience, vision, and collaboration matter when it comes to crafting customized, women- and diversity-focused leadership programs, and no one knows women’s leadership better than Smith College Executive Education.

Working side-by-side with your Talent Development or Diversity & Inclusion team, we construct powerful leadership development programs that focus on your specific goals and tackle the challenges your organization faces advancing women to top levels of leadership.

You can count on Smith’s expertise in program design, whether exclusively for women or including men, to:

  • Build a diverse pool of talented, high-potential leaders with strong functional backgrounds, innovative business competencies, and clear leadership capabilities tailored to your environment
  • Deliver effective retention and succession-planning practices to ensure your company has the necessary pipeline of inclusive managers and executives at all levels
  • Create champions for culture change that support all of the above

For organizations that seek to build their women’s leadership pipeline fast, Smith Custom Programs are proven to make a measurable difference in the retention and advancement of top female talent at some of the world’s greatest organizations. What are you waiting for? Get started today.

Program Design

Programs Designed to Meet Your Women’s Leadership Goals

Each year we design and deliver single-gender or coed custom-designed programs that focus on specific challenges our partner organizations face moving their women’s leadership goals forward.

Every Smith Custom Program is designed with our multi-step approach, which is rooted in our collaborative and continuous cycle of assessment and dialogue between Smith and key stakeholders at your organization.

Step 1 | Discovery

The Discovery phase is critical: It’s where, together, we uncover what your people really need and what the real issues and opportunities are.

  • Why are you doing this and what do you hope to accomplish?
  • Who are the internal champions, key stakeholders, and potential participants?
  • What makes your company’s culture unique?

Step 2 | Proposal Development

During the Program Proposal Development phase, Smith takes the information gathered in Discovery and develops a program recommendation. What will your program look like? How will it be carried out?

  • Draft curriculum, objectives and outcomes, and budget
  • Propose timelines for program design and roll-out
  • Review proposal together, provide feedback

Step 3 | Program Design

This is where the details of your leadership training are presented. A preliminary session or program design is created based on the in-depth Discovery process and the feedback and needs uncovered after discussing the proposal.

  • Present initial curriculum and program design, including: location, timeline, and beyond
  • Receive critical input from stakeholders
  • Review and modify final design

Once the program design is approved, Smith convenes a faculty to deliver on the learning objectives identified throughout the Discovery, Proposal, and Design phases.

Step 4 | Program Delivery

This is what you have been building towards: the delivery of your Smith Custom Program.

  • Support of company recruitment practices and candidate selection
  • Program orientation call for participants and corporate decision-makers
  • Roll-out of inaugural program

Step 5 | Evaluate, Analyze, Modify

After each session, participants give in-program feedback. At the conclusion of the program we sit back down together to evaluate these assessments and any other feedback, and make decisions on next steps.

  • Ongoing evaluations and feedback-based discussions used to continuously refine and modify program design and content
  • Connect participants with ongoing learning opportunities

The Custom Program design process is an ongoing cycle, rooted in a dialogue between Smith and your organization. Each design process is unique and based directly on your evolving needs, or the need to meet new program goals.

Impact & Value

Women Mean Better Business

Investing in the leadership of the high-potential women at your organization isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a business imperative.

Research shows that organizations that prioritize advancing women to top leadership roles benefit from increased employee satisfaction; engagement; retention; and bottom line business results.

Better Financial Performance | Companies with higher numbers of women at senior levels are also companies with better organizational and financial performance.
– McKinsey & Company, Women Matter report

Outperform the S&P | Stocks of Fortune 500 companies with women CEOs rose an average of 50% in 2009, compared to the benchmark for U.S. stocks, the S&P 500, which rose an average of 25%.
– The National Association for Female Executives

Cost-effective, Bigger Impact

When you invest in a Smith Custom Program, there is a greater impact than when enrolling women in open enrollment programs alone. A custom program is tailored to your specific needs and allows your organization to more swiftly and cost effectively move more women up the leadership pipeline.

Your needs and goals come first at Smith:

  • Programs are aligned to your company’s strategic mission, operating goals, culture, and business needs
  • Programs are built to augment or complement existing leadership development programs or initiatives in your organization
  • Course content and hands-on simulations are customized and based on the leadership competency requirements identified within your company
  • Course design and its components are continuously improved and refined, based on ongoing assessment and evaluations that identify the business outcomes that are most critical to your company.

It’s about you, not us.

Leadership Case – Johnson & Johnson

More than 1,000 women at Johnson & Johnson have attended Smith College Executive Education leadership programs

In 2002, JoAnn Heisen, then Chief Global Diversity Officer, Executive Committee Member, and founder of the industry leading Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), came to an uncomfortable realization:

The group of 20 women J&J was sending Smith open enrollment programs each year was indeed producing powerful results, but moving only 20 women through the programs each year was not enough. At that pace, the company’s pressing need for strong female executives ready to take J&J to the next level would never be met. And they would certainly never meet their ultimate goal, to be the #1 company in the world for women executives.

J&J had to make a big statement. They partnered with Smith College Executive Education to increase the rate at which their high-potential women were being prepared for leadership. Smith worked closely with J&J to design and deliver a custom program that provided transformative leadership development to many more high-potential women using Smith’s signature all-women model.

More than 240 women per year attended three Smith-J&J Custom Leadership programs in the U.S. and Asia. Since 2002, more than 1,000 high-potential female managers and executives have been through the programs.

The result? The female executive ranks at J&J have grown from just 300 in 1995 to more than 2,000 today.

“There is no doubt that Johnson & Johnson has benefited enormously from Smith’s programs,” said Heisen. “Our women rave about the experience. To attend one of Smith’s sessions is worth its weight in gold on their resume.”

And J&J executives aren’t the only ones raving about the experience. Today, J&J is considered one of the benchmark companies for developing, promoting, and retaining exceptional women executives.

The Experience

Higher retention rates. Deeper leadership bench-strength. Huge competitive advantage. Sound like a miracle? It’s not, when you partner with Smith College Executive Education.

Learn more about Smith Custom Programs from the talent development and diversity & inclusion professionals who partner with us.

Real Women, Real Stories

  • “The program improved my confidence and increased my awareness of what it takes to be a strategic leader (versus a tactical leader). Note to my CEO: the Smith program is an excellent investment for future leaders.”

    Wendy T.
    Wendy T. DIRECTOR, REGULATORY AFFAIRS, MEDICAL DEVICES
  • “I gained the tools to develop myself as a leader and to deliver a broader and larger impact to my company. Upon returning, I began to lead with purpose. My increased confidence and delegation allowed me to take on more responsibilities and even landed me a job promotion.”

    Iris S.
    Iris S. CUSTOMER SOLUTIONS ASSOCIATE MARKETING MANAGER, CONSUMER GOODS
  • “I feel much more confident about strategy — including creating a strategy and my ability to be strategic in general. I no longer focus solely on tactical issues and can be a better leader for my team.”

    Erin C.
    Erin C. SENIOR DESIGN ENGINEER & ENGINEERING MANAGER, SEMICONDUCTORS
  • “After attending the Smith program, I took a more active role in my organization. My more fully developed leadership skills have allowed me to feel more confident and have moved me from being the Product Engineering Supervisor to being a leader within my organization. “

    Mariela M.
    Mariela M. PRODUCT ENGINEERING SUPERVISOR, MACHINERY
  • “I entered the program with expectations to broaden and sharpen my business acumen, but left with a new lens on my professional and personal world. This new lens enables me to see what has been in front of me for years, but blind to my mind.”

    Paula W.
    Paula W. PROJECT CONTROLS MANAGER, CONSTRUCTION
  • "Specialist to Strategist exceeded all of my expectations. By piecing together all the different pieces of my life, the program brought new reflections on things I had learned but had forgotten to apply in real life. The faculty was so knowledgeable and collaborative, both the Smith as well as the external speakers. There are many words that describe Smith College Executive Education: collaborative, forward thinking, passionate, practical, strong, smart, compassionate, trustworthy, innovative, different, visionary, creative, and dynamic… I don’t know where to stop!”

    Janine E.
    Janine E. SENIOR BUSINESS ARCHITECT, PHARMACEUTICALS
  • “This program is not about just listening to presentations. It’s about learning and practicing techniques to help you succeed as a leader. In addition, the relationships that are formed through natural networking are stronger than from other leadership programs I have attended. This is a key experience that any woman leader should attend.”

    Sarah M.
    Sarah M. IT ARCHITECT, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICES
  • “Smith College made me see that I am good enough, and I need to step up and take my seat at the table. The course itself had an immediate impact on my work. The first thing that changed for me was how I network. I now know I need to network more. This is a very valuable program and we should be looking at sending someone every year.”

    Julie M.
    Julie M. PROJECT MANAGER, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICES
  • “I got so much out of learning about myself and being a leader! My experience at the program had an immediate impact on my work by giving me the necessary refresh I needed. I was inspired and excited to be part of such a strong network of women. It also gave me the necessary refresh I needed in my life outside of work. What specific returns did I get out of it? Two big things come to my mind: the value of being submerged in a learning environment that touched a wide range of topics – from leadership to networking to finance to health. I now have new leadership tools that will strengthen me, my teams and our practice.”

    Lara P.
    Lara P. MANAGING DIRECTOR, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & SERVICES
  • “In my company, Smith programs are very prestigious. The curriculum, passionate faculty, and learning environment are all very impressive and top class. I believe this is the best program for women leaders. It inspires you, makes you more confident and builds your network.”

    Mengjuan L.
    Mengjuan L. HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR, PHARMACEUTICALS
  • “My Smith experience taught me to step back and think about things more strategically in order to make better decisions. The program quickly provided me with new ways of thinking, a new set of leadership tools, and terrific people connections.”

    Susan L.
    Susan L. AVP, INSURANCE
  • “I realized that my leadership challenges are not unique to me — they are shared among female leaders in all industries in every corner of the world. This program taught me how to influence company decisions, to engage more in active listening before issuing an opinion or decision, and to connect with my team on a deeper level.”

    Veronica C.
    Veronica C. VP, QUALITY & COMPLIANCE, HEALTHCARE
  • “Spending the time away from my job and my company gave me the opportunity to recognize that I am a strong leader. When I returned, I immediately inserted myself into discussions and situations where I normally may have taken a back seat – I had the increased confidence to just ask for a seat at the table. This renewed sense of purpose has allowed me to think about moving my business forward rather than just keeping it going.”

    Elizabeth B.
    Elizabeth B. DIRECTOR, CUSTOMER LOGISTICS, HOSPITAL & HEALTHCARE
  • “This program exceeded my expectations. I was impressed with how much leadership I have in me, and how by using my strengths I can achieve more than I thought possible. I left Smith feeling inspired, empowered, energized, challenged, excited, accepted, exhilarated, part of a network, and engaged. This training helps you to use your strengths to become stronger and be a great leader!”

    Ann B.
    Ann B. STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICER, PHARMACEUTICALS
  • “What makes Smith’s leadership program unique from other leadership programs I have attended was the opportunity we had to focus on personal and professional development while growing our network of women professionals. I came back more focused and confident in my ability to succeed as a leader. It was the best experience of my career!”

    Jennifer D.
    Jennifer D. AVP, CHIEF OF STAFF, INSURANCE
  • “Smith’s program is unique from other leadership programs I have attended for a few reasons: It is a great mix of classroom education on the hot topics we face as executives in the industry and worldwide marketplace, and it provides opportunity for personal growth as an executive leader. ”

    Rhonda J.
    Rhonda J. NATIONAL SALES DIRECTOR, HEALTHCARE & HOSPITAL
  • “My deliberate ‘reflection time’ has led to many new strategic ideas and concepts that have had a direct impact on the mission and vision of the organization I lead. I told my CCO it was the best educational experience I have ever participated in, and that I emerged a more inspired, energized and challenged leader.”

    Kris C.
    Kris C. VP, HEALTHCARE COMPLIANCE, HEALTHCARE & HOSPITAL
  • “By tackling both technical and soft subjects, as well as giving me tools for self-assessment, the program has helped me become a more effective leader. The instructors were inspiring and engaging – all this allowed me to zero in on how to improve my personal leadership style. I returned to work refreshed and motivated to make a greater impact.”

    Sarita F.
    Sarita F. SENIOR BRAND MANAGER, HOSPITAL & HEALTHCARE
  • “My experience at the program had an immediate impact on my work and life. One [session] made me realize I was sacrificing my own health for my job. Outside of work, I am working harder to have a better balance because of my experience at the program. The Smith experience is well worth the investment.”

    Lisa B.
    Lisa B. MANAGING DIRECTOR, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & SERVICES
  • “I very much appreciated being in the presence of talented and influential women. I was able to immediately understand the challenges currently facing our organization, to ensure we survive in this difficult environment, and to be able to make suggestions about how we can innovate what we do and how we do it.”

    Susan H.
    Susan H. SANTA CLARA ENGINEERING & SITE MANAGER, DEFENSE & SPACE
  • “How refreshing to be around so many women leaders. I was able to much better articulate my ideas for how to develop and execute our vision. It also reminded me to support emerging women, which has already helped me identify and develop new talent.”

    Casey D.
    Casey D. DIRECTOR, CONCEPT & TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT, CONSUMER GOODS
Getting Started

How to Get Started

Beginning your Smith Custom Program journey is as simple as completing a form.

Once we receive your information request, a member of our team will contact you to learn more about your interest, initiate the design cycle, or just answer any questions you may have about the design process.

Once you and your organization decide to move forward, we will begin with the Discovery phase of our design cycle, which can be done remotely or in-person at your location.

Click GET STARTED to launch your Smith Custom Program exploration today.