Training leaders through a broad range of experiences
Liz Craft, MBA '06, North American Lead for Scholar Work Programs at Advanced Micro Devices
Craft designs training and development programs for co-ops, interns and recent college graduates, and is also leading the way in growing AMD’s recently launched MBA Leadership Development Program (LDP), which is in its second year. “Internally, we spoke with our executives about what skills they feel AMD’s future leaders need to possess. All of our research said that cross-functional experience and influence is paramount in all geographies,” Craft says. “By providing the MBAs with a rotational program that exposes them to different functions, they are able to learn skills in multiple disciplines, build on their MBA curriculum, and expand their network at the same time.”
Additional key components of the program include coaching and assessing participants’ performance to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and helping them to expand their networks by building relationships with other leaders. “Our goal is to become a home for best-in-class MBA internship and LDP [leadership development programs], attracting talent from across the country and around the globe,” Craft says. “The diversity of thought that can be gained by bringing in people from a wide variety of schools can only help to make the program stronger as we move through future iterations.”
Though still young, the LDP program is competitive, and encourages a variety of applicants from diverse functional backgrounds.
“This year’s MBA interns are students concentrating in market research, finance, supply chain, sales, technology, or HR. We’ve been really excited by the caliber of candidates we’ve seen since the program began last year,” Crafts says. “In our MBA internship and LDP programs, we are looking for people with 3-5 years of professional experience before entering their MBA program. Beyond that, we’re looking for people with quantitative skills, project management experience, and knowledge of basic macroeconomic principles. We also strongly prefer people with technology market knowledge. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we need our candidates to have exemplary written and verbal communication skills.” Operating on three eight-month rotations, Craft explains there is ample time for LDP participants to explore a variety of leadership opportunities. In addition, they are strongly encouraged to volunteer several times a year at various nonprofits, giving them a broader appreciation for the community AMD serves.
Craft says the wide range of opportunities she organizes for the MBAs makes her job fast-paced and stimulating.
“My days are never the same – that’s something I love,” Craft says. “I might be working with a potential vendor assessing their team-building or leadership-development offerings, introducing a speaker at a ‘lunch and learn,’ leading a group discussion about a recent business publication, or devising a strategy for better connecting our programming across geographies. It’s a lot of moving parts, which means my focus needs to change rather rapidly and frequently.” While Craft focused on leadership and general management in her Johnson studies, she also enrolled in numerous classes in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, attracted to ILR’s strong curriculum in human capital management. Craft says this multi-disciplinary management education has helped her immensely when examining different routes to develop AMD’s rotational programs.
“It’s a definite advantage to be someone with an MBA designing a program for MBAs – I can speak their language and understand what is important to them,” Craft says. “I often reference some of my cross-cultural management learning and have incorporated a cultural assessment into the MBAs’ curriculum. This type of analysis is critical in a global company.”
Craft also noted that she is always looking for help from Johnson alumni in continuing to develop this program, particularly those who participated in leadership development programs following graduation.
“If you participated in a leadership development program after school and would be willing to share some of your experiences, please contact me – hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly straight from MBAs can’t be beat,” Craft says. “I hope to bring more Johnson students down to Austin – it is a fabulous place to live.”