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Honda employees participating in the iLEAD leadership certificate program through
the Harbert College of Business (pictured here with Aubie) were on campus Aug. 25
for the first of six instructional sessions.
Honda’s automobile manufacturing plant in Talladega County covers almost 5 million square feet on a site of 1,350 acres, employs more than 4,500 people and represents a $3 billion capital investment in Alabama’s economy.
It requires many levels of good leadership to make such a sizable operation run smoothly. Experts at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business have adapted an existing program they feel can help, and after submitting a proposal to Honda, the two have expanded an existing partnership with Auburn that combines business expertise with engineering and technical mentorship.
“We’re very excited to be here, and I’m personally excited to be back in Auburn,” said Honda leadership team member and Auburn alumnus Marty Cash during the program’s opening session Aug. 25 at Auburn’s Horton-Hardgrave Hall.
The 16 participants from this cohort will convene on the Auburn campus for six, day-long sessions over the course of the next two semesters for dual instruction in leadership and team dynamics to guide people toward success.
Members of this cohort completing all course work will earn an iLEAD (Integrating Leadership Essentials through Applied Development) certificate from Harbert College. The leadership training is in addition to their efforts to earn a graduate certificate in Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) from Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.
Jim Parrish, Harbert’s executive director of Full Time and Online Graduate and International Programs, explained how the engineering and business colleges worked together to help boost the university’s partnership with Honda.
“The ISE certificate and the iLEAD program are stand-alone experiences,” Parrish said. “Our College of Engineering partners reached out to see if our iLEAD program could be developed for the associates from Honda.”
Parrish added: “We have conducted similar leadership experiences through our partnership with Radiance Technologies. Our relationship with [Ginn College of Engineering] and their familiarity of our programs was truly paramount in connecting with Honda.”
The combination of Auburn’s leadership training with engineering and technical training is an attractive concept for Honda, one of its senior officials said in an earlier announcement of the partnership.
“Developing technical skills and capabilities is a top priority for our associates, and Honda’s decision to participate in this educational program stems from our commitment to our associates to foster professional development opportunities,” said Stephen Woodry, quality leader for the Alabama Honda facility. “Our industry is changing and the skills and requirements to build high-tech vehicles is also changing with the shift to electrification, alternative fuels and automated vehicles.”
Harbert, meanwhile, hopes that the Honda partnership also will create additional interest from other corporate partners seeking to share a similar leadership development experience, Parrish said.
“There are many facets of iLEAD that are applicable to every organization,” he said.
Parrish's message to other companies who might consider a similar proposal?
“Connecting other leaders and investing in their growth is always going to be in style,” he said. “While the iLEAD program will connect participants to talented Harbert faculty and staff, the learning within the cohort is where the true power is."
For industry leaders who are looking for ways to develop their teams, Parrish would love to have a conversation around meeting their needs.
For more information about Auburn University’s iLEAD program, contact Jim Parrish firstname.lastname@example.org; about Harbert College of Business, https://harbert.auburn.edu; or Sam Ginn College of Engineering, https://eng.auburn.edu.