Business Essentials Certificate: Impactful Professional Development

Kelley School of Business

Kelley School of Business


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Who should attend

This certificate program is for people who realize that advancing their careers will require a new approach, a new game plan. Business Essentials will help do that by exposing you to the essentials of management, finance, accounting, operations, analytics, and marketing. You will work with Kelley faculty in each of these areas, along with like-minded individuals in your cohort.

For those with limited formal business education, or those in their early to mid-career, this is a certificate program that will help “get you there.”

About the course

An integrated look at management, finance, accounting, operations, analytics, and marketing.

This immersive program is designed to enhance your ability to understand and apply business concepts and skills. As you develop a broader perspective on how a business or organization works, you’ll gain fundamental insight into how you, your employees, and the decisions you make as a manager impact the performance and profitability of the enterprise. We accomplish this with integrated topics and an engaging capstone simulation. You will create a professional development plan and follow up on that plan with a virtual 90-day check-in.


This curriculum is interactive and engaging, involving both group and individual work. Participants will work directly with a large number of Kelley faculty to understand and master the key elements of their discipline and how to develop or advance business acumen in these areas. The certificate program begins with a virtual launch led by the faculty lead, and ends with a check-in with faculty 90 days after the program’s conclusion to ensure that the value from the program is being realized by participants.

The curriculum is divided into five daylong courses. The final course integrates all the skills learned that week and can only be taken by students who have taken courses 1 through 4.

Course 1: Setting Direction for Yourself and Your Business

Module 1: Business Acumen

Get an overview of the essential functional areas of business and begin work on your personal development plan.

Module 2: Strategy

What makes some firms more successful than others? How do firms create competitive advantage? How can strategy contribute to the creation and capture of economic value? How are strategies managed? These are some of the questions that we will address in this module as we study how firms compete and the common elements that drive successful corporate and competitive level strategies.

Course 2: Fundamentals of Financial Intelligence, Value Creation

Module 1: Accounting

In the accounting component of this course, we’ll provide non-accounting personnel with a core understanding of the accounting language and the skills necessary to 1) effectively communicate with business professionals regarding the financial activities of a business entity, and 2) derive meaningful information from an entity’s financial statements and disclosures.

Module 2: Finance

In this module, we’ll cover basic finance concepts including TVM (time value of money), the tradeoff between risk and return, financial valuation techniques, cash flows, capital allocation/budgeting, and the role that financial markets play in enabling business. Some knowledge of Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software is required.

Course 3: Performance and Insight: Operations Management and Business Analytics

Module 1: Operations Management

Businesses are built around processes, and processes must be able to adapt and change for a business to remain competitive. In this module, we’ll cover the basics of process analysis and process improvement.

Module 2: Business Analytics

In this module, you will learn the value of data. Specifically, you will learn to prepare and analyze data, converting raw data into meaningful information. You will learn to identify business problems and model potential solutions to provide the insights necessary to make informed and effective business decisions through hands-on experience with spreadsheet modeling in Microsoft Excel.

Course 4: Understanding the Customer: Marketing

This course involves the development of a marketing plan. Topics include:

  • Understanding customers
  • Consumer decision-making processes
  • Segmentation and targeting
  • Brand and positioning strategy

Course 5: Managing the Business, Turning Business Acumen into Value

This course is available to participants who have completed courses 1 through 4.

  • Managing the Business: From Decision-Making to Execution. Participants will take on the mantle of business leader and make the decisions necessary to run a business in this integrated capstone simulation.
  • Turning Business Acumen into Value: From Here to There. We will discuss how to turn business acumen into career success, including creating personalized professional development plans for the next 6, 12, and 24 months.

People who earn this business certificate will:

  • Understand the functional areas of a business: management, accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and analytics.
  • Map/model those areas and see how they fit together or identify gaps.
  • Create, critique, revise, and implement a personal development plan.
  • Work closely with Kelley faculty and like-minded participants to create accountability for implementing the learnings. This includes a follow-up session 90 days after the last class.

In-Residence Certificate in Business Essentials

Format: In-residence business certificate taught on the Bloomington, Indiana, campus. Attend the full week of daylong courses at one time and receive your certificate, or take courses 1 to 4 individually.

Online Certificate in Business Essentials

Format: Online business certificate comprising four courses. Each course begins the first full week of the month and runs for three consecutive weeks. Attend all four courses to earn the certificate or register for individual courses.


Andrea Astill

Andrea Astill is a lecturer in the Accounting Department at the Kelley School of Business. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked as an internal auditor and held various positions in corporate accounting. During her 20 years with the Kelley School, she has taught at every level of the accountin...

Joseph Fitter

26 years of professional corporate financial management, strategy, leadership and people development experience in a multinational/global environment. Finance and Strategy leadership roles include manufacturing and product cost, R&D product development, sales and marketing, accounting/shared ...

Will Geoghegan

Areas of Expertise Professor Geoghegan’s research interests include strategic management, innovation, innovation systems, innovative capabilities and technology transfer. Academic Degrees Ph.D., National University of Ireland, Galway Awards, Honors & Certificates Syracuse University DCP Fa...

Kari Johnson

Kari Johnson is a senior lecturer of Operations and Decision Technologies and an award-winning educator with nearly twenty years at the Kelley School of Business. A master’s degree in instructional systems technology has provided Kari with a strong background in designing effective and efficient ...

Shannon Threlkeld

J. Shannon Threlkeld is a Senior Lecturer for the Department of Marketing at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University Areas of Expertise Analytical Techniques for Marketing & Consumer Data, Professional Sales Training, Distance & Online Learning, Data Modeling Tools and Technique...

Carl Briggs

Dr. Carl Briggs is a clinical professor in the Department of Operations and Decision Technologies at the Kelley School of Business. Briggs has spent the last 20 years working with companies around the world that seek to improve their collective capacity to produce and sustain meaningful results....

Kent Rerko

Kent Rerko is a lecturer in Operations and Decision Technologies at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. His professional career at Target Corporation included experience in merchandising operations, purchasing, supply chain optimization, project management, and marketing operations....

Russ Clark

Russ Clark is a lecturer in the Operations and Decision Technologies Department at the Kelley School of Business. He holds a BS in industrial management from Purdue University and an MBA from the Kelley School. Prior to joining the IU faculty, Russ was a senior manager in Ernst & Young’s Str...

Business Essentials Certificate: Impactful Professional Development at Kelley School of Business

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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