MALVERN, Pa. — It had been a few years since Greg Bermon took a class at Penn State Great Valley when he decided to look into other professional development courses in 2020. He’d previously earned his project management certificate and, after a few years, was promoted to senior manager of global service delivery at Bentley.
As he adjusted to leading a large, globally distributed IT team, Bermon considered returning to school. A Penn State graduate who spent his first two years at Penn State Berks, Bermon saw parallels between his undergraduate information sciences and technology program and Great Valley’s professional development courses because of the emphasis on working through real-world problems in classes.
Now, Bermon is enrolled in Six Sigma Black Belt certification and has completed an essentials in strategic leadership certificate, a workforce and career development certificate, a supply chain management certificate (which has since evolved into the logistics and operations management certificate), and the Six Sigma White Belt certification workshop — and all the programs have paid off.
Bermon has been able to immediately apply what he has learned in class at work, which was especially helpful for his team, which couldn’t work fully remotely, during the uncertainty of the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Within these courses, you get valuable nuggets that you can take back and apply,” Bermon said. “You can use it to not just make your life better within work, but your team’s lives better… [I was] really trying to find ways to make it so that work wasn’t just work, it was a safe space for all and a way that everyone felt they could positively contribute and be flexible or agile within the growing needs of the world.”
Bermon noticed a change in his outlook and approach to leading his team. With that in mind, he started thinking about how his entire team might also benefit from Great Valley’s programs. So, working with Ed Weckerly, director of professional programs, and several professional development instructors, Bermon began implementing training programs for his team.
And like with the certificate programs, the training has had a notably positive impact at all levels. For example, everyone on the team took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which classifies people into one of 16 personality types. Out of the more than 40 people on his team, Bermon said there was at least one of each of the personality types. From that, he and the managers on his team reevaluated and changed their approach to various projects to ensure that communication among all colleagues was as clear as possible.
In addition, team leaders and managers participated in a training for leading high-performance teams within organizations.
“We did that, and it shows,” Bermon said. “It reflects in the quality of work and the quality of communication coming through. Within IT, especially support, communication is a core competency. If we don’t communicate, that’s a problem because we’re providing a service.”
Given the positive impact Great Valley’s classes and corporate training have had on him and his team, Bermon intends to continue both. He and his director are working with the campus to develop a new colleague training program called CARES, which stands for “consideration, authenticity, reliance, and solutions.” Bermon also sees more of his team interested in joining certificate programs; because many programs are offered fully remote, the professional development opportunities aren’t limited to team members in the Greater Philadelphia area.
On an individual level, Bermon plans keep enrolling in certificate programs after he finishes the Six Sigma Black Belt certification in May. And while he doesn’t know which certificate he’ll tackle next, he does know that he’s not done learning or growing as a leader.
“[The programs have] helped me navigate as a leader,” Bermon said. “If there’s not an appropriate manner of delivery or communication or urgency set, that cascades down without saying. It could present a nonproductive or hostile or unhappy workforce. I pride myself on making sure my team is as happy as possible. I understand and accept you can’t make everyone happy. You can’t appease everyone, but you can show you’re doing your best.”