"This was exactly what I needed," Arino, 32, said during a coffee break on the first day of class two weeks ago.The Mini-MBA program at the university's Center for Management Development has mushroomed since former Goldman Sachs executive Abe Weiss launched it in 2003. Last month's courses were the first to be administered on consecutive days, instead of weekly for 12 weeks, a decision that turned them into an international attraction.At Arino's lunch table the first day sat Bakr Fatallah, a rookie supervisor at Saudi Telecom Co. who flew 13 hours from Riyadh to attend. Other students included Puerto Rican-based managers from a medical supply company and, the week before, a biotechnology executive from Singapore."I need to have management skills -- how to make strategic decisions, how to make a one-year strategic plan, how to be a leader," Fatallah said. "My company said, Â?ose any program you need.' "More than 2,500 professionals have completed a Mini-MBA course, whether on campus or at an in-house administration at a company or nonprofit organization. The original "Business Essentials" course has averaged 23 students, Weiss said, and inspired successful spinoffs. The "Finance Essentials" course started in 2006, with "BioPharma Innovation" following in 2007. "Strategic Healthcare Management" was delivered for the first time in 2008 on-site at St. Peter's Hospital in New Brunswick -- where it is a requirement for second-year residents. The next course, "BioPharma Entrepreneurship," will begin this winter.Students receive a certificate at the conclusion of the course, which costs about $3,000. Those who pass an exam at the end are eligible for three credits toward a Rutgers MBA, which requires 60 total credits.In each course, enrollment generally has remained steady or picked up, despite the recession, Weiss said. That's a surprising trend, he said, given that most participants are sponsored by their employers. Only a handful of the 28 people in Arino and Fatallah's class reported other funding sources on surveys handed out at the first session.
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