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Add to Calendar 20181105T000000Z 20181107T000000Z America/New York BRAND-NEW! NAW Micro Degree: Leading Innovation and Accelerating Implementation
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TAMUThe NAW Micro Degree: Leading Innovation and Accelerating Implementation is a five-month hands-on, project-based, guided leadership development program. This breakthrough program is designed for high-potential leaders to help them develop the soft skills required to lead project management and successful implementation. Project leaders will take the skills they learn and apply them to their own projects at their companies during the five months. They will learn how to get buy-in for the project, manage different personalities, develop their leadership and implementation skills, and better identify their challenges. Support will be provided with check-ins no less than once a month by the Texas A&M subject matter expert, and may be more frequent if a project leader requires additional help.

This distribution-specific program begins with participants attending a three-day on-campus program at Texas A&M, followed by online guidance and project check-ins as described above. Participants will again meet on campus for one day at the conclusion of the five-month program for project presentations.

The NAW Institute/Texas A&M top-notch knowledge base will be applied to this program. Download a pocket guide from one research study.

Download the Pocket Guide

NAW Micro Degree Dates at Texas A&M University

February 11–13, 2019


July 15, 2019


October 28–30, 2019


April 6, 2020


Program Fee: $9,985 per person (includes program materials; excludes travel and lodging to Texas A&M University). If you are interested in registering more than three individuals or prefer to pay by check, please contact NAW’s Alexandria Crenshaw at (202) 263-4074.

Developed through powerful input from 35 distributors and 5 manufacturers

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, distributors are challenged to create highly effective and efficient operations so that they can develop innovative and marketable solutions for their customers. Innovation leadership and implementation skills are highly valuable in business operations, but they continue to elude distributors. As a result, today there is a critical need within distribution firms to provide the necessary skills to design and implement business solutions successfully.

To respond to this growing need, the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence and its partner, Texas A&M’s Industrial Distribution Program, have created a first-of-its-kind NAW Micro Degree: Leading Innovation and Accelerating Implementation. Developed through careful input and feedback from wholesaler-distributors and manufacturers, this NAW Micro Degree program focuses on developing the innovation expertise and implementation skills of distribution leaders so that these leaders may respond at an accelerated pace in their ever-changing markets.

Your leaders will develop their project management and implementation skills while leading a critical project for your business.

The purpose of the NAW Micro Degree is to equip distributors with the capabilities they need to challenge, develop and retain their best talent. It is a five-month hands-on, project-based, guided program on leading innovation and accelerating results through designing successful implementation solutions.

There are no outside assignments or additional work required during the five months — only the guidance and support your leader needs on a regular basis to support your business efforts and success. A guest Executive from your company is invited to the one-day report out with your leader, and together, they will see projects from other participating companies and be able to gather new ideas for other business areas that you may wish to address next.

The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence will issue a Micro Degree to all participants who complete this program. Class size is limited, so early registration is strongly recommended.

Learning Outcomes

Distribution leaders who enroll in the NAW Micro Degree program will learn various processes and attain skills and competencies to allow them to

  • Lead innovation
  • Develop effective communication skills
  • Master interview techniques and relevant data
  • Improve performance and management skills
  • Understand the difference between Perception and Reality
  • Identify and understand Barriers
  • Increase effectiveness of Buy in
  • Cultivate situational leadership and coaching skills and other soft skills
  • Implement innovation acceleration processes
  • Acquire front-end design, setting the stage and problem statement abilities
  • Prioritize areas for better solutions
  • Learn project design and development, and access review with subject matter experts
  • Broaden skills and management team interaction
  • Respond to new competition and a competitive landscape effectively.

Each student will submit a company project they will work on over the five months of the program.

Who Should Attend

  • Operational Leaders in functional areas
  • District and Region Managers
  • Branch and Sales Managers
  • Distribution Managers and Professionals
  • High-potential candidates for management
  • Centers of Excellence Leaders
  • Senior Account Executives, with option to invite a customer as an additional attendee

MONTH 1: Apply, Acceptance and Pre-Work

  • Each participant will identify specific areas of interest and submit a basic problem statement to Texas A&M University. The specific area of interest may focus on analytics, customer stratification, inventory, operations or another topic.
  • Once identified, Texas A&M will provide each participant with the information needed so the participant can craft the problem statement.
  • Company expectations for the project are determined.

MONTH 2: On-Campus Lecture, Breakouts and Workshop at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas

  • First two days are active learning and participation in an intimate classroom setting.
  • On the third day, participants meet in assigned groups with a subject matter expert.

MONTHS 3, 4, 5: Online Check-in and Project Support

  • Regular monthly check-ins are held through enhanced distance learning assistance.

END OF MONTH 5: Project Presentation and Graduation

  • One day is spent at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas for project presentations.
  • A mentor, sponsor or senior executive from the participant’s company is invited and encouraged to participate in this final program.
  • Participants will learn from other projects, network and graduate.

Expected Program Outline (sessions may shift on the schedule)

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Micro degree introduction and trends

Communication and change

Breakout: Exercises

Project management, design and development

Workshop: On the specific project design

Review of Day Two

Review of subject matter expert support and help

Developing a Problem Statement

Breakout: Deconstruct and revise problem statements

Tool development, implementation schedule and process mapping

Workshop: Designing schedule and mapping exercise

Break out into groups on project design for review with the subject matter expert

Group examples: operations, sales and profitability

Overview of research methods: Analysis and Data Sources

Workshop: Interview questions, techniques and identifying barriers

Situational Leadership and engaging the team

Workshop: Self-assessment soft skills and dealing with objections

Final regroup and review of projects

Review the enhanced distance learning assistance

Next steps and action items

Setting the stage, selecting interviewees, barrier sort

Workshop: Interview and barrier sort results

Managing the project, follow-up and communication required

Workshop: Designing the project plan and implementation schedule for the subject matter expert

Review results and how to do barrier analysis

Establishing priorities and direction

Workshop: Analyzing different results

Determining the ROI and payback of the project

Norm Clark

Dr. Norm Clark

Instructional Associate Professor, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University

Dr. Norm Clark has been with in Texas A&M’s faculty since 2001. He has taught undergraduate courses in sales engineering, purchasing, manufacturer–distributor relations, ethics and leadership, and new directions in distribution competitiveness.  As an Associate with the Thomas and Joan Read Center for Distribution Research and Education at Texas A&M, he is responsible for developing, marketing and delivering professional development programs to distributors and manufacturers globally. In industry, as director of sales for a Houston-based consulting firm, Norm developed, marketed and delivered educational programs for both distributors and manufacturers representing a variety of industrial channels throughout North America.

Kevin Friar

Kevin Friar

Senior Lecturer, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University

Kevin Friar joined the faculty of Texas A&M’s Industrial Distribution Program in 2017 and teaches in both the undergraduate and master’s programs.

Prior to his current role, Kevin spent 28 years in industry working for Ecolab in its Energy Services division, Nalco Champion.  He began his role as a field engineer and over the year held various leadership positions covering sales and marketing both domestically and internationally.  His leadership roles serving the oil and gas industry gave him vast experience in emerging markets globally.  From 2009 until his retirement at the end of 2016, he held the Executive Vice President position with responsibility for the global oilfield chemicals business unit of $2.5 billion and 2,500+ employees.


Dr. Senthil Gunasekaran

Assistant Director, Thomas and Joan Read Center for Distribution Research and Education, and Global Supply Chain Laboratory, Texas A&M University

Dr. Senthil Gunasekaran leads industry research projects, delivers executive education and develops distribution know-how at Texas A&M University’s wholesale distribution center for the past 13 years. As an Assistant Director of the center, he designs and directs industry projects and consortia focused on discovering and implementing best practices for distributors, while recruiting and developing a team of business analysts. He has designed and managed more than 158 wholesale distribution engagements. As an industry advisor, practitioner, researcher, speaker and educator, Senthil helps distributors with sales volumes from $10 million to more than $1 billion across 15 lines of trade. He has been teaching in Texas A&M’s executive masters class since 2008. Senthil is a co-author of six books for the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence.

Jay Johnson

Jay Johnson

Lecturer, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University Lead, NAW Certificate in Distribution Professional Management

Jay Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in distribution. He has worked in industries such as electrical, building materials, fluid power and power transmission, with positions in sales, sales management, and general management. He has participated in research projects in the building materials, electrical, PVF, HVAC, fluid power, plumbing, chemical and transportation industries. Jay uses his industry experience, education and continued research to deliver undergraduate and industry presentations in financial management, sales, sales management, inventory management and customer service.

Matthew Keblis

Dr. Matthew Keblis

Associate Professor, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University

Dr. Matthew Keblis teaches the undergraduate course in analytics. Prior to joining Texas A&M, he was a member of the business school faculties at Macquarie University, the University of Dallas and the University of Wyoming. Matt’s research has been published in a number of journals including Management Science, Interfaces, and IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control.


Dr. Pradip Krishnadevarajan

Assistant Director, Thomas and Joan Read Center for Distribution Research and Education, and Faculty, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University

Dr. Pradip Krishnadevarajan cofounded Texas A&M’s Global Supply Chain Laboratory, the nation’s premier distribution-focused research lab that provides state-of-the-art distribution and supply-chain research solutions to the industry. He has 15 years of experience as an industry advisor, educator and speaker for wholesale distribution, helping wholesaler-distributors create strategic and tactical competitive advantage. Pradip has conducted more than 135 industry research projects in the areas of pricing optimization, customer stratification, inventory stratification, and warehouse optimization. He heads the continuing education and professional development program for the Thomas and Joan Read Center. Pradip has created new courses, such as Pricing Optimization, Intensive Customer Stratification, Intensive Inventory Management, Optimizing Distributor Profitability, Lean Supply Chain Management and Distributor Competitive Advantage. He has published 30 articles in International Journal of Management, Decision Sciences Journal and other journals. Pradip is a co-author of six books for the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence.

Barry Lawerence

Dr. Barry Lawrence

Program Coordinator, Industrial Distribution Program; Director, Thomas and Joan Read Center; and Director, Global Supply Chain Laboratory, Texas A&M University

As a faculty member of the Industrial Distribution Program, Dr. Barry Lawrence is involved in graduate, undergraduate and professional continuing education teaching activities, funded research projects, publications and industry presentations. His teaching activities surround classes in manufacturer– distributor relationships, supply chain management, distributor profitability and distribution strategy. Barry is a frequent speaker for distribution associations, buying groups and companies on topics ranging from distributor profitability, distribution growth and market share, pricing optimization, inventory asset management, sales and marketing optimization, global distribution and other topics. Barry is a Fellow with the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, and co-author of six books on distributor competitiveness. He has more than 10 years of industry experience in sales and retail business before joining Texas A&M.


Dr. Bharani Nagarathnam

Associate Director, Graduate Program, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University

Dr. Bharani Nagarathnam manages the Master of Industrial Distribution, one of the largest distance education programs at Texas A&M. Previously, he has worked with the Global Supply Chain Laboratory and the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M on applied industry consulting projects, consortia and professional development programs for industrial manufacturers and distributors. Bharani also teaches undergraduate courses in the Industrial Distribution Program.


Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam

Associate Professor of Industrial Distribution, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University

Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam’s teaching activities surround classes in strategic industrial relationships, distribution networks, logistics and supply chain management. She has been involved in numerous research and consulting engagements in the area of inventory management, supplier relationships and improving profitability at several large and mid-sized distributors. Before joining academia, Malini worked with several automotive companies on transportation, material handling and decision analysis systems. Her research interests include empirical studies to assess impact of good supply chain practices such as coordinated decision-making in stochastic supply chains, handling supply chains during times of crisis and optimizing global supply chains on the financial health of a company. She is the author of many peer-reviewed journal articles and case studies.

Esther Rodriguez-Silva

Dr. Esther Rodriguez-Silva

TEES Assistant Research Professor and Talent Incubator Director, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University

Dr. Esther Rodriguez-Silva conducts research and industry projects in the area of global distribution, best practices in distribution profitability, distributor value-added services, and within industry consortia. As Director of the Talent Incubator Program, she educates and train students for industry projects development and execution. Esther coordinates the Global Distribution Program designated to teach students on how to conduct business in the international arena. She has contributed with recognized international institutions on supply chain management and participated on the implementation of strategic initiatives related to global trade, logistical processes and supply chain integration for the Inter-American Development Bank and the Department of Transportation. Among her professional accomplishments are the reactivation of the container terminal at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas that attracted multi-million investments and her contribution to the Maritime Transportation Security Act at U.S. Congress.

Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson

Senior Lecturer, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University, and Lead, NAW Micro Degree: Leading Innovation and Accelerating Implementation

With more than 35 years in distribution and manufacturing, including artificial intelligence, safety, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and specialty products, Jim Thompson provides leadership for client development at Texas A&M. His expertise is in general management, marketing, human resources, business acquisition and finance disciplines, and he has operating experience across the Americas and the Pacific Rim. Jim served as President and CEO of Vallen Corporation.

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

The NAW Micro Degree program will be held at the Sbisa Conference Center on Asbury Street on the campus of Texas A&M University. Within walking distance of the Sbisa Conference Center is the Northside Parking Garage, located on the corner of University Drive and Ireland Street. See map below.

The George Hotel, at 180 Century Court, places you in the heart of College Station and within walking distance of Texas A&M University. The hotel features complimentary wireless Internet access and a continental breakfast. Shuttle service is available from the Easterwood Airport to the hotel, or there is free self-parking at the hotel. A special block of rooms is set aside for NAW Micro Degree program participants at a negotiated rate. Contact Jessica Wells at The George Hotel at 979-485-5586 to make your reservation. Be sure to mention Group Booking Code ER784.

The Thomas and Joan Read Center was founded in 1988 with the intent of bringing together distributors, manufacturers, professional associations and others to solve problems in the distribution industry. It is the only university center in the United States that focuses on research and education in industrial distribution. The Read Center works with industry leaders and their projects to discover new ways of productively and profitably serving the needs of the marketplace. It helps industry professionals recognize and improve their best practices, and provides solutions and methodologies to facilitate a competitive advantage.


For more details about the content of the NAW Micro Degree Program, contact Jim Thompson, Senior Lecturer, Industrial Distribution Program, Texas A&M University, 

For more information about the NAW Micro Degree awarded to participants who complete the program, contact Patricia A. Lilly, Senior Vice President of Thought Leadership, NAW,