Published On Apr 08, 2015
in Leadership & Development and PECO Culture
Innovation was what sparked the formation of PECO University in 2005. Mike Phillips announced at the company’s Annual Meeting that we were going to create our own corporate university. Mike and Jeff Edison are very big believers in, and supporters of, continuous education and the University would be dedicated to the associates of Phillips Edison to further the communication, education, and team building that are cornerstones of the company culture.
This was something very innovative at the time. Not many, if any, private companies were committing human and financial capital to the formation of an in-house university that would not only develop all associates on a professional level, concentrating on the industry specific knowledge they needed, it would also address the soft skills they would need to help them be successful both professionally and personally.
In the past 10 years, PECO University has stayed true to its’ original purpose. Curriculum was written to cover all aspects of the retail real estate industry. The lease, cap rates, CAM reconciliations, financial statements, and the criteria used to purchase shopping centers have been just some of the topics covered. Communication using DiSC as the common language, conflict management using the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, and understanding differences in generation’s and gender’s communication styles have been front and center in the soft skills development. These classes are learner centered with a facilitator guiding the learners and allowing them to own their learning by sharing their experiences and expertise in their respective areas while exploring together the new skills or knowledge the OJLA can provide them. In-house SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) have been used to create and facilitate the learning. This innovating way to learn has helped foster a transfer of institutional knowledge vital to perpetuating the company culture and growth. In 2015, PECO University is again at the forefront of innovation. Working together in a partnership with Westminster College, a Salt Lake City college, that has a project based learning graduate program, a curriculum has been developed by Westminster to complement and encourage Phillips Edison’s desire to create an innovative mentality company-wide.
To that end, a group of fourteen Phillips Edison associates were nominated for the Innovation Lab project. They met for two days this April at Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship, Utah to kick off the first lab. The group is comprised of associates from several different departments and locales with different levels of responsibility within the company. Each brings their own set of skills and experience to the mix. Together they form a collaborative unit that will work to help define and shape how Phillips Edison will use an innovative environment to continue to grow and be a place where opportunities for all associates are created.
In the two days spent at the ranch, the group worked with Westminster faculty to learn about change management, the sense of community, project management, critical thinking, and communication skills needed to think and act innovatively. They worked with the staffs from Blue Sky Ranch and PECO University on team building activities that strengthened them as a unit and helped them define how they viewed leadership and teamwork as well as how they are going to govern themselves throughout the duration of the project.
These fourteen are the trail blazers, the ones that will lead the way for the rest of the company to think about how innovation is just the way we do things. Is that a lot to ask of them? Is it too big an undertaking?
No, it’s not. Because at Phillips Edison, challenging ourselves is just the way we do things.