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Vanderbilt Executive Education, Lifelong Learning at a Custom Level

Mar 1, 2024
Becca Yancey takes it personally, bringing her expertise, passion for lifelong learning to Vanderbilt Business

By Lacie Blankenship

Lifelong learning, the continuous pursuit of knowledge throughout one’s life, is integral to unlocking potential. For centuries, global scholars and leaders have said that learning is not a cycle that can be completed—there is always more to master. For instance, Socrates, often referred to as the “prophet of lifelong learning,” is credited with saying, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

Pictured: Becca Yancey, Managing Director, Executive Education, Vanderbilt Business.

Becca Yancey, Managing Director, Executive Education, Vanderbilt Business.

At Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, we understand that obtaining any degree is a significant achievement. Yet, it’s a cornerstone of a journey where learning and growth persist beyond the confines of schooling—it’s “the kindling of a flame.” Vanderbilt Executive Education fully embraces this concept of lifelong learning, acknowledging that professional development is not a one-size-fits-all trade and that there is always more to learn at all career stages. That’s precisely why we prioritize lifelong learning and personalized education.

Read more below about Becca Yancey, Managing Director, Executive Education, and learn how Vanderbilt Executive Education is enhancing leadership and professional development.

Meet Becca Yancey, An Advocate for Accessible and Continuous Education

Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management proudly welcomed Becca Yancey as the new Managing Director of Executive Education in September of 2023. In her new role, Yancey oversees the strategic and management oversight of custom, open enrollment, and online non-degree business and career development programs, reporting directly to Dean Steenburgh.

With a career spanning 18 years in executive education and an unwavering passion for lifelong learning, Yancey joins Vanderbilt from WillowTree, a mobile and web application development company, where she led their learning and development strategy as Vice President for Learning and Organizational Development. Yancey’s career notably includes roles in all areas of executive education at the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation, showcasing her experience and understanding of the landscape.

Who is Becca Yancey?

When Yancey says she grew up in a small town in Virginia, she means a town so small that it only had one middle school and one high school; it’s a region where educational opportunities were and still are limited to the necessities. Inaccessible education isn’t uncommon in rural America, and it’s essential to remember that the lack of educational accessibility does not reflect a region’s intelligence; it merely reflects a region’s resources.

“When you live in a small town where there is an emphasis on agriculture, there is less emphasis on going to college or importance placed on pursuing postsecondary education, and I was determined to make education my thing,” says Yancey.

As a first-generation college graduate and the daughter of noble working parents, Yancey saw a college degree as a non-negotiable; a degree was one way for her to ensure security. Yancey’s dad had a GED, and her mom had a high school diploma; they had 3 kids. Yancey shared that her parents eventually divorced, and she witnessed the financial struggles of single parenting at times. The inability to land jobs requiring a college degree compounded these struggles even further.

“Education became really important to me. I saw it as a way to provide for a better outcome, setting myself and those around me up for a stronger future,” says Yancey.

Yancey went on to college at Mary Baldwin University in Virginia, where she worked throughout school to chip away at her student debt while earning her bachelor’s in psychology. Yancey then went on to Virginia Tech, where she earned a master’s in education.

“I believe in crafting learning and leadership development experiences that resonate with individuals, bridging the gap between knowledge and actionable impact in professional journeys,” says Yancey.

Yancey has found a home in her professional career by working in higher education, further pushing for accessible and continuous education. While working at the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation, Yancey managed the Underrepresented Minority Scholarship Committee and found value in helping direct educational opportunities to those who may not have access to college otherwise.

“I left higher education for a year and a half to work in industry, still in learning and development, but I found my way back to higher education because it just feels like home, as if it’s where I truly belong and what I’m supposed to be doing,” says Yancey. 

Passion as Momentum 

“My goal at Vanderbilt Business is to help foster genuine growth and empowerment of individuals and organizations investing in their employees,” says Yancey. “I believe in crafting learning and leadership development experiences that resonate with individuals, bridging the gap between knowledge and actionable impact in professional journeys.”

Yancey’s vision encompasses a holistic perspective on program execution, from the initial design phase to delivering an exceptional experience. Her commitment to accessible learning opportunities perfectly aligns with the program at large. Under Becca’s guidance, Vanderbilt’s Executive Education programs are poised to enhance the professional development landscape, empowering individuals and organizations alike to navigate the complexities of the evolving business world. 

What is Vanderbilt Executive Education?

Pictured: Vanderbilt Business' Patrick Leddin's book "The 5 Week Leadership Challenge" is on a desk. A student is sitting at the desk with class materials.

Patrick Leddin, author of The 5 Week Leadership Challenge, is one of the Vanderbilt Business faculty members who helps professionals transform their leadership.

Each year, organizations and individuals from various professions, managerial levels, industries, and locations choose Vanderbilt Executive Education to “sharpen their saws,” learn new skills, and adopt new perspectives to advance their careers.

“Vanderbilt Executive Education enables the focused and impactful development of essential skills needed to level up professionals by offering practical opportunities to get out of their bubble and out of their comfort zone for a set amount of time,” says Yancey.

Vanderbilt Executive Education offers not only a menu of proven and practical programs but also the flexibility to tailor and customize learning experiences to address specific individual or organizational needs. This approach empowers professionals at various career stages and within diverse industries to shape their own educational journey. Vanderbilt Executive Education is offered through 2 branches, “Programs for Individuals” and “Custom Solutions for Organizations.” 

Programs for Individuals

Programs for Individuals are proven, practical, and flexible opportunities for lifelong learning that helps professionals develop and strengthen critical business skills without the commitment of earning a degree. Participants can choose in-person or online programs to fill a particular knowledge gap or to increase overall competency in leadership, strategy, or management.

“At our core, we prioritize flexibility; we want to make education accessible,” says Yancey. “Our approach includes asynchronous online options and strategically scheduled in-person programs that consider traveling participants not to have to sacrifice their weekends for work-related travel.”

Pictured: Vanderbilt Executive Education participants are sitting at a table in a classroom discussing the class topic. One student is facing toward the camera, the other is facing away engaged in conversation. Vanderbilt Executive Education courses create space for individuals to come together and pursue a customized lifelong learning track.

Vanderbilt Executive Education is offered through 2 branches, “Programs for Individuals” and “Custom Solutions for Organizations.”

Vanderbilt offers a schedule of open enrollment programs throughout the year that can be completed asynchronously online or are 2 to 3-day in-person programs that allow participants to deep dive into particular content areas like leadership, management, finance, etc., while escaping into a classroom setting to learn with a cohort of individuals they would likely not otherwise interact with.

“One of the major benefits of participating in one of our programs is the opportunity to network with individuals from other organizations,” says Yancey. “It is transformative to see the world from different lenses; for instance, hearing insights from different industries, spanning from large corporations to the military or nonprofits, can make you rethink what you’re doing in your current environment.”

Custom Solutions for Organizations

Vanderbilt Executive Education designs and delivers custom learning solutions to address unique business challenges and leadership development goals. These solution-oriented experiences are offered in various formats, from 3-day workshops to extended learning journeys, spanning in-person, online, and hybrid forms. The adaptability ensures that programming aligns with organizational objectives and preferences for cohorts and groups of various sizes.

“Investing in your people is one of the most valuable investments an organization can make,” says Yancey.

Organizations will benefit from Vanderbilt Executive Education’s competitive advantage, which is the capability and passion for true partnership. With a seat at the table, organizational input is invaluable to crafting the highest quality learning solution that aligns with their requirements and achieves their desired outcomes. Their vision and Vanderbilt’s collective expertise—combined for unparalleled results.

Industry frontrunners like Nissan, Chubb Insurance, and Regions Financial Services have partnered with Vanderbilt Executive Education to design tailored solutions addressing their unique learning and developmental needs.

“Investing in the development of employees isn’t just an organizational strategy; it’s a commitment to fostering growth, innovation, and a thriving workplace culture,” says Yancey. “It’s not just about enhancing skills; it’s about nurturing talent and building and retaining a foundation for success.”

Are you interested in how Vanderbilt Executive Education can transform your career or workplace? The first step is to schedule a consultation to discuss your goals.

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