Case Study

Val Markos, BellSouth Corporation
Member Benefits Extending Back 12 Years – and Counting

Val Markos is the former Executive Director of Leadership Development at the Bellsouth Corporation. His experience as a member of an Executive Networks member dates back more than 12 years, the benefits of which are detailed below – in his own words:

I have learned a lot from my peers in the Executive & Leadership Development Network of which I’m a member. I started in the network when I was new to this job and the more senior people in the network really helped me out a great deal.

They broadened my horizon intellectually while at the same time providing very practical advice and guidance, like how big classroom sizes should be, who were the best faculty and consultants, etc. I have been in this network for more than 12 years, which really attests to how valuable it is for me. It was a critical component to my success early on in this job and it continues to be a very dynamic place to learn and to share experiences that are very relevant to my job today.

I really value the face-to-face meetings which include in-depth discussions on critical topics of importance to executive development professionals. This is one of the primary ways I keep up on trends and innovations, especially since I cannot attend as many conferences as in the past because of budget restrictions. And the electronic capability (email discussion groups) provides for very quick turnaround on questions I need answered.

For example, recently I was asked to gauge where other companies were on an issue of importance to our Board of Directors, and they needed this information in a matter of days. I was able to tap into the network electronically and within 48 hours I had 6 responses when normally it might take up to 6 weeks to gather this type of information. These are career-defining moments and the network really helped make me look like a star.

The benefits that my company has derived, in addition to what I’ve already covered, include:

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Who’s the best faculty to use in executive and leadership development program

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Advice on the best learning management systems

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How to evaluate and assess individuals

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Guidance on how to structure action learning processes or other learning methods

Essentially, my membership in the network has led to ENLIGHTENED DECISIONS. I’ve been able to learn from the experiences of others and this has helped us not make the same mistakes and we’ve also learned from the success of others.

In addition, my staff has benefited from listening to the teleconferences that are periodically held on topics of interest to the network members and from accessing the archive of documents from the members and the meetings.

I believe the success criteria for a peer-to-peer network includes:

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A broad participation base – that is, diversity. It needs to be large enough with good industry and geographic participation

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Someone needs to actively manage and monitor the network

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Need face-to-face exposure to other members. The Electronic stuff is great, but it is much more successful if it is build upon strong personal bonds and the type of trust that can only be established with direct contact with the other network members.

Basically, the network is only as valuable as you make it, you get out of it what you put into it.

– Val Markos, Bellsouth Corporation

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