Apollo Group, Inc. is the leading provider of quality education to U.S. and international students. Apollo Group is fairly considered as the leader of the U.S. Education Services industry (Stahov, 2009). The organization focuses on providing higher education services to working adults (Apollo Group, 2011). The group operates through four subsidiaries, which include University of Phoenix, College for Financial Planning, Apollo Global, and Institute for Professional Development (Apollo Group, 2011). All these subsidiaries work together to achieve a common strategic goal – to provide working adults from all over the world with access to a high quality, affordable education.
All organizations begin with a mission and vision. The vision denotes and expresses the main idea behind a company (Sabrautzki, 2010). The vision is the source of inspiration and a brief description of how the organization must look in the future (Sabrautzki, 2010). The vision defines the purpose of every organization’s existence and serves as the guiding line in the development of every company (Sabrautzki, 2010). For employees, visions usually fulfill the role of motivator; it convinces them that they are doing something useful and important (Sabrautzki, 2010). Sabrautzki (2010) gives the following definition of this notion:
A company’s vision is a fundamental and highly durable guideline for the desired development of the company; the main aspect of a mission statement is the company’s core purpose which sets the firm apart from other firms in its industry. (p. 3)
Apollo Group’s mission is to strengthen its position as a leading provider of quality and accessible education opportunities for learners around the world, in ways that afford strong returns for all stakeholders: students, faculty, investors, and employees (Apollo Group, 2010). The organization’s vision is to provide high quality educational products and services for students and ensure that they can maximize the benefits of their educational experiences (Apollo Group, 2010). Apollo Group’s vision creates the picture of the future, whereas the mission to provide quality and accessible education to adult learners from around the world differentiates Apollo Group, Inc. from its competitors.
It should be noted that Apollo Group, Inc. passed a long way before its present day mission and vision statements were developed. The changes in its mission and vision reflected the changes in the organizational structure and educational progress. The organization was created in the 1970s, when the Baby Boom generation was turning 30 and Steve Jobs was introducing his first Apple computer (Apollo Group, 2011). Apollo Group’s founder Dr. John Sperling envisioned future changes in education and labor force (Apollo Group, 2011). He was convinced that the 1970s were the time when the jobs of the future were being created and, consequentially, adults would need to develop new knowledge and skills (Apollo Group, 2011). The latter would be impossible without creating higher education institutions that responded to the changing demands of the economic and social reality. With this in mind, Dr. Sterling founded University of Phoenix which was a ‘limited version’ of present day Apollo Group, Inc. University of Phoenix was the starting point of Apollo Group, Inc. and focused on the provision of education to adults 18-22 years old (Apollo Group, 2011). At that time, the organization lacked international coverage; little attention was paid to the role of education in community development and its implications for sustainability. Only with time did Sterling realize that University of Phoenix was part of a larger community machine. Today, University of Phoenix is a foundational element of Apollo Group, and its mission is to bring quality adult education in masses. With the growing emphasis on community development and sustainability, Apollo Group, Inc. is developing new programs to benefit all stakeholders. The organization’s core values add strength to Apollo’s industry position.
Apollo Group, Inc. places an emphasis and invests its resources in the development of individual and collective dedication (Apollo Group, 2009). The organization is committed to the values of integrity, honesty, and the highest ethical standards (Apollo Group, 2009). Apollo Group, Inc. rewards its successes and encourages mutual support and collaboration (Apollo Group, 2009). Moreover, the organization believes that the way business is being done is as important as the results achieved (Apollo Group, 2009). Apollo Group positions itself as a global, corporate, and individual citizen and promotes strict compliance with the laws, rules, and regulations that govern their operations (Apollo Group, 2009). Like any other organization, Apollo Group, Inc. claims that it will not sacrifice its values for the sake of “quick wins”, as the entire group is dedicated to building sustained, long-term success and achieving long-term strategic goals (Apollo Group, 2009). By respecting and praising diversity, Apollo Group, Inc. demonstrates respect for each and every member of the organization (Apollo Group, 2009). Apollo Group claims to be responsible for its mistakes and learns from its own failures in order to pursue continuous growth (Apollo Group, 2009).
Many organizations develop operational guidelines to meet the demands of the changeable industry environments. Apollo Group, Inc. does not provide any operational guidelines, but based on its 2010 annual report, the organization is implementing a set of missions and initiatives to realize its strategic vision and plan. To begin with, Apollo constantly upgrades its learning platforms (Apollo Group, 2010). Furthermore, the organization invests considerable resources in the development and adoption of new learning tools (Apollo Group, 2010). Apollo Group (2010) offers a number of tools and initiatives to support students’ financing decisions; for example, students can use the Responsible Borrowing Calculator to calculate the amount of money they need to borrow in order to continue their education. Apollo Group is working to reduce the use of third parties for lead and transfers traditional marketing approaches in order to identify those who can succeed and successfully complete its educational programs (Apollo Group, 2010). Apollo Group (2010) requires that all students who choose to enroll in University of Phoenix but have fewer than 24 incoming credits attend a three-week University program that helps inexperienced but promising students to realize their learning potential to the fullest. Finally, the group constantly redefines the roles and responsibilities of its workers, resets individual measures and objectives, and implements new compensation plans to motivate its staff and faculty personnel to provide the highest quality educational services (Apollo Group, 2010). All these activities can play the role of the organization’s operational guidelines towards achieving its strategic goals.
Apollo Group, Inc. has several strong core competencies. It is noteworthy, that a core competence is always inimitable and unique. A core competence is that which makes a disproportionate contribution to customer value (Hamel & Prahalad, 1994). Core competencies are the skills that let the organization deliver a serious customer benefit (Hamel & Prahalad, 1994). Core competencies differentiate firms from the pool of their competitors and open the gateways to tomorrow’s markets (Hamel & Prahalad, 1994). In this sense, brand strength and recognition can hardly be considered a core competence, as they do not increase customer value. Simultaneously, the Group’s geographic spread, huge technological investments, and the growing concentration of quality faculty personnel exemplify its core competencies (Stahov, 2009). Apollo Group, Inc. is working to promote its brand identity among learners. Most probably, the organization will be able to turn its brand identity and reputation into the source of additional customer value. As a result, customers (learners) will be proud to say that they belong to the Apollo Group community. “I am a Phoenix” will become the feature that distinguishes adult students from their peers. However, Apollo Group Inc. is still a mile away from turning its brand into the source of its competitive advantage.
According to Apollo Group (2010), its main goals are (1) to grow business in the right way; (2) to deliver energizing, compelling, high-value learning experiences; and (3) to increase operational efficiency of processes and decisions within the organization. It would be fair to assume that during 2010, the organization managed to meet all three goals. Growing business in the right way implies that Apollo Group, Inc. constantly enhances its approaches to learning and develops programs to identify students with the greatest chances to succeed (Apollo Group, 2010). Apollo Group regularly evaluates the effectiveness and feasibility of its enrollment policies; its reward systems are constantly updated to motivate faculty staff to provide exceptional service to students during and following admission (Apollo Group, 2010). Apollo Group (2010) works to produce compelling and energizing learning experiences which, after students graduate, lead to greater material and career rewards. University of Phoenix graduates are believed to experience better salaries and career growth opportunities (Apollo Group, 2010). Unfortunately, it is not clear how Apollo Group, Inc. improves the efficiency of its operations. The organization claims to be developing a range of student-focused initiatives, but how they are related to better operational efficiency is difficult to define. Apparently, Apollo Group (2010) will have to be more specific in its strategic goals. At the same, the organization has enough resources, knowledge, and experience to further expand its presence in the Education Services Industry within the U.S. and beyond.
Apollo Group, Inc. is the leading provider of quality education to U.S. and international students. Apollo Group’s mission is to strengthen its position as a leading provider of quality and accessible education opportunities for learners around the world in ways that afford strong returns for all stakeholders: students, faculty, investors, and employees. The Group’s geographic spread, huge technological investments, and the growing concentration of quality faculty personnel exemplify its core competencies. Its main goals are to grow business in the right way, to deliver energizing, compelling, high-value learning experiences, and to increase operational efficiency of processes and decisions. Unfortunately, it is not clear how Apollo Group, Inc. improves the efficiency of its operations. Despite these controversies, Apollo Group, Inc. has everything needed to achieve a better strategic position in the U.S. Education Services industry.