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Learning the Language of Business in 3 Days

May 10, 2022
Vanderbilt Executive Education program offers a crash course on the fundamentals of business finances

By Lacie Blankenship

Speaking the Language of Business is a 3-day program offered through Vanderbilt Executive Education that leaves participants with the foundational knowledge needed to understand the numbers and speak the language of business. 

Richard Willis

“The goal with Speaking the Language of Business is to provide participants with insights and knowledge that they can then use to be more informed consumers and users of financial reports,” says Richard H. Willis, Senior Associate Dean for the Faculty and Anne Marie and Thomas B. Walker, Jr., Professor of Accounting. 

This course is especially beneficial to small business owners, entrepreneurs, marketing managers, operations managers, technology/product-line managers, and rising supervisors with budgetary responsibility. 

Speaking the Language of Business is perfect for anyone interested in being a better user, communicator or interpreter of financial information, or that may not have gone the corporate finance route,” says Willis. “We aim to fill gaps that complement the students’ already existing skill sets.” 

Rita Gunn

This on-campus program consists of a series of discussions, exercises, and case studies. Students discover the meaning in the numbers and learn how to use financial data to build effective strategies for managing company financial resources.

Participants learn how to assess and recognize financial risks in advance and interpret financial strengths, unlock financial disclosure and practice methodology for identifying factors to improve cash cycles and communicating financial results to external stakeholders.

Speaking the Language of Business is taught by Willis, Rita Nevada Gunn, Assistant Professor of Accounting, and Hunter M. Land, Assistant Professor of Accounting. Gunn and Land focus on the financial side of the house (i.e.: external reports like summaries/statements shared with stakeholders), and Willis primarily on the managerial side of the house (i.e.: internal reports like performance indicators used to make executive decisions). 

Hunter Land

“With a firm grasp on metrics of financial position and performance, Speaking the Language of Business participants are prepared to lead colleagues by helping them understand how their decisions impact the bottom line,” says Land. 

“With the financial acumen gained during this course, participants learn to confidently engage with financial professionals and communicate business value to executives, investors, and key stakeholders,” Willis notes.

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