A View from Financial Services:
Immediate ROI on EMTM Investment
When Jim Combs of SEI Investments Company (Nasdaq: SEIC) began the EMTM program, he faced the challenge of
forming a new product group in connection with an organizational realignment at his firm. So Combs focused
his EMTM course knowledge and projects on the complex challenges associated with the design, development
and delivery of technology and operational outsourcing solutions to corporations, private banks and trust
companies, investment advisors and affluent families.
"I was looking to broaden my business skills, but in a context that I could apply readily, says Combs, Vice
President of the firm's Global Services division. His two-year stint with EMTM has since yielded an impressive
list of measurable outcomes. "We delivered a good return on the investment my firm made in my EMTM education," he says.
Combs applied the tools and concepts he learned in EMTM's Organizational Behavior and Design course to prepare
a business plan with well-defined business objectives, an organizational and staffing plan, compensation
plan and product strategy that was used to justify the funding required to build a new internal product
management organization within SEI Investments.
Then, as publicly-held SEI Investments prepared to extend its investment processing outsourcing solution
into the much larger national bank market segment, he faced another important challenge: how to determine
the cost and product delivery implications of this market initiative. "We wanted to create a good cost model
for understanding the resource implications of serving a financial client three times the size of our then-largest
customer," he notes.
For an EMTM Statistics class project, Combs performed a multiple regression analysis using historical
transaction volumes, functional staffing levels and operating expenses to develop a predictive cost model
for a national bank strategic outsourcing solution. "The model proved to be fairly accurate in estimating
internal costs, incremental head count and expense impact," Combs says. "We've since successfully gone to
market with pricing and an operational model based in part on that analysis." Combs also used an EMTM Data
Mining class to analyze prior year customer service inquiries and staffing levels to predict staffing
requirements to support new business growth. "This analysis provided the service organization's management
team with a more scientific method for determining the impact of increased volumes on staffing levels and
the total cost to serve," says Combs.
Name virtually any EMTM course he's taken in his two years in the program, and Combs can explain how he'll
use the concepts to address business challenges at SEI Investments. "I'm using my EMTM training to better
identify product and business opportunities and exploit them more quickly and effectively," says Combs.
"As I deliver stronger results across a wider range of activities, my scope of responsibilities has
increased in both breadth and depth. Similarly, my group is happier and more motivated as I've exposed
them to new tools and ways of doing things, and challenged them professionally within the context of
their current jobs."
Combs recommends EMTM for mid-career to top tier executives at companies coping either with rapid change
or a stagnant growth rate. "If your company knows that it needs a new strategic direction, I strongly
suggest sponsoring managers for this program so they can acquire the tools, knowledge, and analytical
skills required for developing and executing a winning business strategy," says Combs. "EMTM gives you
a greater awareness of tried and true techniques and principles for business management. It gives you
an appreciation for the rapid pace of technological change, helps you determine the potential disruptions
those changes may have on your business model, and provides you with the knowledge and capabilities to
execute a strategy to position your business where it needs to be in the years ahead."
James A. Combs, Jr.
“EMTM is a very focused and concentrated way to reinvigorate your skill set as a
catalyst for rapid career progression. You get a lot of bang for your buck.”
James A. Combs, Jr. (EMTM ’05)
Vice President of SEI Global Services
SEI Investments Company