August 24, 2001

Los Angeles — When Victoria Lowe started Alert Staffing in 1994, she ran her fledgling company from her living room with one unpaid employee. Now, Alert Staffing is a $204 million operation with 125 paid positions. The firm was ranked as the No. 1 woman-owned business in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal and is considered the largest minority-staffing firm in the U.S.

Lowe, an African American who is president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, credits UCLA Anderson's Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE) Program with helping her transform her entrepreneurial organization into a professionally managed company.

"The MDE Program, and particularly the Business Improvement Project, assisted me in driving the business and taking it to the next level," said Lowe, who completed the course in 1999. "This is an incredible opportunity that every serious business owner should invest their time in."

The MDE Program, which is offered by UCLA Anderson's Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, is the premiere "mini-MBA" certificate program for entrepreneurs. Taught by the same world-class faculty who teach UCLA Anderson's top-ranked MBA programs, the 10-week intensive program provides entrepreneurs with essential management skills and strengthens their ability to build effective and profitable organizations.

"To succeed as an entrepreneur, you not only need attitude and vision, but you also need to be able to lure investors, market products, attract customers, structure complex financing, oversee operations, and manage people," said Alfred E. Osborne, Jr. director of the Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and associate professor of business economics. "Those are the skills we impart through the Management Development for Entrepreneurs Program."

The MDE Program is offered twice a year — at UCLA Anderson during the fall and in Northern California during the spring. Participants receive instruction in the latest theory and practice in such areas as strategy, marketing, finance, operations, and management. In addition to a varied curriculum of lectures, case discussions and applied workshops, participants enjoy one-on-one interaction with faculty to address the challenges facing today's growing enterprises.

For the participants, who are entrepreneurs with a wide range of business and managerial experience, one of the biggest benefits is the Business Improvement Project (BIP). The BIP, which participants develop over two months following the classroom lectures, is designed to address specific issues facing the student's company, and provides a blueprint for action using the skills and knowledge the entrepreneur has gained through the program. During this process, participants work closely with UCLA Anderson MBA students, who act as individual consultants to the entrepreneurs.

For Robert Cronyn, president of Los Angeles-based Empire Cleaning Supply, the BIP provided a roadmap for a marketing plan that spurred sales to grow from $3.6 million to $10 million. "We were in a growth phase, but I think we would have tapped out eventually," said Cronyn, who took the course in 1999. "The BIP took us down a road of micro-marketing, which helped us to narrow our market focus to a more targeted level."

Mark Mitchell, an organizational consultant and a 2000 graduate, used what he learned in the MDE Program to help an inner-city Catholic school raise funds to cover a $29,000 note to meet teachers' salaries. Mitchell also established a development board and created a five-year strategic plan. Through implementing Mitchell's BIP, the school hosted a black-tie fundraising dinner, with VIPs that included new City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and former Laker A. C. Green. The event raised enough funds to cover teachers' salaries, create and solidify the development board, and secure commitment from sponsors for future events.

"The MDE Program challenges you to think outside of the box, and to think in terms of profit rather than making money. Most businesses make enough money to survive but they are not making a profit," Mitchell said. "I'm the No. 1 fan of this program."

The fall session held at UCLA Anderson begins Sept. 28 with an orientation and banquet for participants. For enrollment, fees and other information, contact UCLA Anderson at (310) 206-4169 or More information is also available at

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