Peer Talk Profile: Barry Draskovich
Barry Draskovich is vice president of program and contract management at Parker Hannifin Corporation’s Aerospace Group. He’s a four-time participant of Chicago Booth’s Executive Education programs, taking The Executive Development Program, High-Performance Leadership, Essentials of Effective Management (now Essentials of Executive Leadership), and Negotiation and Decision-Making Strategies. He recently spoke with Booth about his long relationship with executive education.
Booth: What first inspired you to seek out an Executive Education program at Booth?
Draskovich: I knew that if I was going to expand my career, I needed to get some additional knowledge outside of my functional expertise. So I asked myself: how do I expand the knowledge I have from an engineering and program management perspective into a business perspective?
The first Executive Education course I took to expand my knowledge base was the Executive Development Program, because I thought it was going to be a very broad-based business fundamentals course, and it was. I enjoyed the professors who taught it. The course material was spot on, and it was directly applicable to my work. I liked the approach that the school took with the executive training.
Booth: What made you want to pursue additional Executive Education programs?
Draskovich: The Executive Development Program (EDP) content and delivery was very high quality. Once I started to apply what I had learned from EDP, I went back through the curriculum and tried to determine which of the other courses were going to fill the holes that I had in my career growth strategy.
I was focused on better understanding how people operate. What's the best way to motivate folks? How do you develop those high-performance teams? How do you lead them from an effectivity perspective? Those questions led me to the High-Performance Leadership and the Essentials of Effective Management courses.
The most recent course I took was Negotiation and Decision-Making Strategies (NDMS). I recently took over the contracts management function in our organization, and I recognized that my negotiation skills could be increased. Everyone negotiates every day, and learning what those techniques are can help you become a much more effective negotiator.
Booth: What are some key concepts you learned that will be most valuable in your career?
Draskovich: The leadership tools. The recognition that as a leader you don't get anything done without other people is critical. If you don't understand how people work, what motivates them, and what their desires are, then you'll never get them to really follow you. My teams are made up of people that behave and respond in unique ways. Understanding how to best motivate the team, acknowledging that it's not a one-size-fits-all solution, is really critical. That was a major takeaway that I was able to get from the courses—you have to adapt your style to your team's style in order to get the most out of them.
Booth: As a past participant of several Executive Education programs, what have been some highlights of your experience?
Draskovich: There was direct applicability to my work that’s been very valuable and keeps me coming back to Booth. I can't think of an instance when I finished a Booth course and didn’t immediately implement something that I had learned. In NDMS, I actually contacted several members of my team during the course to have them immediately deploy a technique that I had just learned.
I've also been able to establish relationships with several of the Booth professors and with the people in the classes. I’ve gained perspectives about other industries and companies and how they do things, the problems they have, whether those problems are the same as mine, and how they solve those issues. The attendees are coming from not just domestic companies and backgrounds, but also international, and I think getting that broader perspective is really important.
Booth: Why do you think it’s important for professionals to continually find new learning opportunities and acquire new skills?
Draskovich: I consider myself a lifelong learner. There's always something that I can learn to do better. If we're not always learning something new, then we get stuck in the past. And we don't want to get stuck in the past because our competition isn't sitting in the past—they're always moving forward. So we have to move forward too, and hopefully we move forward faster than they do. If we can continually increase our knowledge base and broaden our capabilities, we're going to become more valuable to ourselves in our own career, and more valuable to the company that we work for.