Thinking about company business at a university

When is a man to think?

Robert Giles, director of compensation and benefits for Geosource Corporation in Houston, escaped last summer to his state university. For the first time in years he had a break from an insistent telephone and a filled calendar.

Like other managers around the country, Mr. Giles had lamented ''We're too busy DOING to have time to think.''

This summer he joined the Corporate Scholars Program sponsored by the University of Texas Institute for Constructive Capitalism in the Graduate School of Business Administration.

The program allows an executive to get away from incessant office pressures to do research and analysis on a company problem, to read and to think, to review the literature in his field, and to meet daily for an hour or more with faculty members who offer ideas about his specific project.

Mr. Giles is developing for Geosource a marketable package of services to corporations. Geosource, an energy industry that sells equipment and services around the world, has offices in New York and London as well as Houston.

It has developed pay ranges for engineers, diversified sales personnel, and many other job classifications based on local labor markets in many localities, foreign and domestic. And it has a management incentive and stock program that could be a model for other corporations.

As director of compensation and benefits for his company, Mr. Giles seemed the person most qualified to develop a package of compensation and benefits services for other corporations. But when could he do it? Geosource enrolled him in the university program and said, ''Go do it.''

During a 14-week period, Mr. Giles spent six weeks - three two-week periods - on the University of Texas campus in Austin. These residencies were alternated with two four-week periods at his Geosource offices, where he continued to work on his research problem as well as keep up with his regular responsibilities.

The Corporate Scholars Program was described in New Orleans at the recent International Conference of University Executive Program Directors as a way to bring industry and academia closer. The faculty at the university learns about current corporate issues; participants from industry talk with students about corporate life and opportunities; corporate executives gain insights into business education; and the participating executive is given the time to do work for his corporation that had been in the ''too hard'' basket.

Dr. Eli Cox, associate professor of marketing at the university and a faculty consultant in the program, says one of its most helpful aspects is ''exposure to different ideas.''

Dr. Ray Smilor, a research associate in the Institute for Constructive Capitalism, says the Corporate Scholars Program has yet another function - assisting the university in serving the community by making education available to a new constituency: the corporate executive.

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