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Rocky Mountain College's MBA Essentials Certificate Program aids local businesses

January 29, 2003View for printing

After working for a sign company for 27 years, Paul Cox wanted to get a new perspective on his business.

"I wanted to think about things in a different way," said Cox, who is on the sales staff and secretary-treasurer of Sign Products Inc., which makes business signs.

By MARY PICKETT Of The Gazette Staff

To do that, he enrolled in Rocky Mountain College's MBA Essentials Certificate Program last year.

Cox is one of 85 students who completed the program during its first two years.

Rocky again will offer the series of Wednesday night classes starting the first week in February.

Rocky developed the program for managers and entrepreneurs who do not have time to complete a master's degree in business administration, said Bruce Eberle, dean of RMC's Community Services.

"It was designed as a 13-week program to freshen business skills," he said. "It's a great way to revitalize a career."

For students interested in going on with their education, the sessions offer a taste of what they can learn in a master's degree program.

Margia Pretlow, who works in the Outreach office at Rocky, went through the program last year and now is thinking about enrolling in the University of Montana's MBA program.

Rocky's program also has attracted small-business owners, middle managers, executives and supervisors interested in moving up.

Classes are taught by professors from Rocky, Montana State University-Billings and the University of Montana. The courses give students a view of the larger business picture beyond their own company or industry. The program also shows how business interacts with government and the international community.

Classes include those in critical business skills, financial and managerial accounting and financial management.

Participants also meet other Billings businessmen and women with whom they can network.

The MBA Essentials Program addresses needs listed in the 2002 report of the Montana Ambassadors, a group of 180 business and university leaders. The report said that business employees in the state need to learn how to work as a team and to improve interpersonal communication skills, attitudes about work and customer service.

The program enables students with real-world business experience to hone theoretical skills, said Sandy Barz, an associate professor at Rocky who teaches a financial accounting class in the program.

"Textbook problems are never quite the same as those encountered on the job," she said.

In addition to an overview of accounting, Barz will talk about regulations imposed because of last year's accounting scandals.

Students will leave each class with something they can use, including lists of books that they can read for more in-depth information, said Clyde Neu, the director of the University of Montana's off-campus MBA program who teaches two classes in the Rocky program.

MBA Essentials classes are at 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Feb. 5 to April 30, in the Fortin Health Conference Center at Deaconess Billings Clinic.

Participants will receive a framed certificate of completion. Continuing-education credits are available.

The cost for the MBA Essentials Program is $975. There is a 25 percent discount if three or more people from an organization enroll.

For information or to register, call the RMC Community Services Office at 657-1040 or visit its Web site at

Mary Pickett can be reached at 657-1262 or at

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