Keen Independent Research
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Education and Training

Education and Training

Keen Independent has worked with a range of organizations providing education and training to the public or groups of employees. Services include:

  • Education and training assessments
  • Program development and implementation
  • Compliance and regulatory interpretation
  • Campus mergers, start-ups and closures
  • New course and degree program evaluation
  • Financial aid strategies

Is career development for women still relevant? Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) is an international organization that provides services and professional development training resources to women working in higher education. Ms. Humm Keen has helped the organization meet the challenges an international non-profit organization faces in sustaining long-term relationships with program participants and donors.

Since 2007, Annette Humm Keen has performed a number of research projects for HERS related to active participants, alumni and sponsor satisfaction and needs, strategic planning and program design. Ms. Humm Keen has been able to identify gaps in available training and resources and helped develop new programs for women working in higher education. Ms. Humm Keen has also helped to improve ongoing communication of the benefits of HERS to participating colleges and universities, and ongoing support from HERS alumni. She has provided regular consultation on strategic and operational planning, participant recruiting, print materials, website improvements, social media efforts, events, and proposed educational and online-learning opportunities for participants, alums and sponsors.

Ms. Humm Keen analyzed past research, print and web-based communications and potential and existing market segments to increase participation and marketing vigor. An e-mail survey was also conducted as part of this assignment.

Working with the organization’s leadership, Annette Humm Keen’s recommendations answered: How HERS — a 40-year-old organization — could position itself as relevant among its participants, sponsors and growing pool of industry competitors including Harvard University’s portfolio of leadership programs and American Council on Education’s ACE Fellows?

Annette Humm Keen’s evaluation and recommendations led HERS to a more modern delivery model, enhanced marketing, expanded outreach through strengthened web presence and social media, and a substantial increase in participant registration and diversity.

“[Ms. Humm Keen] alerted us that our alumnae were beginning to report anxiety about the cost of programs and travel. [The] ‘heads-up’ gave us time to revise our priorities for early programs and to focus more of our resources online, thus avoiding dependence on our older model.” – President & Executive Director, Higher Education Resource Services

Is there a better way to assess the market for new university programs? Across the nation, faculty are continuously proposing new programs and degrees to university leadership without a formal process in place to critically review those proposals. The result can be programs that simply fail to meet a market need or just cannibalize students from existing university programs.

San José State University faced this issue regarding proposals for new online degrees and on-campus non-degree offerings. SJSU retained Annette Humm Keen and David Keen to find a better way to review these proposals. Using a proposed online Master’s in Justice Studies as an example, Ms. Humm Keen and Mr. Keen identified the “pain points” for individuals working in justice studies and whether the SJSU master’s degree would attract these professionals. They also researched competing programs throughout the country. They concluded that there was insufficient market for the original proposal, but that a program created in concert with Bay Area police departments could be attractive. This type of market feasibility study is now part of the formalized new program assessment at the University.

Annette Humm Keen and David Keen have also explored new Geographic Information System training programs for SJSU.

Converting best intentions into enrollment. There are more than 100,000 financial planners in the United States. Many of the financial planners with the Certified Financial Planning mark were trained through the College for Financial Planning. The College for Financial Planning was an early innovator in distance learning for post-college professional advancement.

One of the challenges for the organization was the large number of people who expressed interest in the program but never enrolled. Mid-career coursework is a major commitment, and is easy to postpone. David Keen organized the College’s database of prospective students who had requested program materials to be able to identify ideal points in time to encourage them to enroll. Through additional data mining, he also helped the College determine when an individual in their database was not worth additional marketing investment. The College was able to refine its marketing to prospective students and conserve marketing dollars through his data mining.

David Keen also tested the market for new training services for the financial industry, including extensive research with stockbrokers and related professionals.

Training entrepreneurs. Support for small businesses is sometimes elevated to the status of “mom, apple pie and baseball.” Small business owners are credited with creating most new jobs, and are described by some as an endangered species threatened by taxes, government regulation and a culture that favors big businesses. What, if anything, of this standard view is true?

Further, what do small businesses mean to Silicon Valley, which is globally recognized as a hotbed of high-tech entrepreneurship? What is the current environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, and is there anything that work2future, the City of San José and other groups can do to jump-start job growth through support of small businesses and entrepreneurs?

For the City of San José and the local workforce agency (work2future) David Keen and Annette Humm Keen exposed the myths about small businesses and recommended appropriate investment strategies to foster job growth in small and new companies. Their key policy recommendation was to provide “just-in-time training” for entrepreneurs as they face challenges starting and growing their businesses. Old brick and mortar training models should be abandoned for new, segmented online training. Specialized, high-touch assistance should be reserved for start-ups with considerable growth potential, which is a very narrow and definable segment of Silicon Valley small businesses. Finally, they recommended how the City can work with other groups in a network of assistance.

The small business study can be found at:

Linking workers to jobs, sometimes for a profit. Annette Humm Keen and David Keen have worked with a number of public agencies, employers and job boards to better link qualified workers to jobs, and vice-versa. For example, David Keen led a team that performed a strategic positioning and competitive analysis for HealtheCareers Network (HeCN), a major job board in the health care industry. His assignment with HeCN included a comprehensive analysis of internal job-posting data, customer surveys, executive interviews, profiles of job-candidates and employers as well as information from trade associations and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and external data sources, geographic case studies, and executive interviews. The strategic positioning and competitive analysis enabled HeCN’s then CEO to win board approval to pursue a growth strategy.

For the City of San José Office of Economic Development, San José’s work2future and Sunnyvale’s North Valley Job Training Consortium, Annette Humm Keen studied ways to improve relationships between dislocated workers, area service providers and potential employers. Through research gathered from focus groups, in-depth interviews, case studies, national best practices and statistical analysis of business financial risk data, Annette Humm Keen made recommendations for ways to strengthen partnerships, enhance marketing, measure performance and engage customer feedback.

Other examples. Mr. Keen has worked with many other organizations to explore new education and training programs or evaluate and strengthen existing programs. Past assignments include examination of:

  • University of Denver MBA Program;
  • Masters of Nonprofit Management at Regis University and the fellowship program that supports its students; and
  • Training through the Colorado Community College System and private trade schools in Colorado.