Strong Capital Management Inc. employees are thrilled to be nominated to go on the company's annual busman's holiday with their boss, Chairman Dick Strong.
Employees of all ages, experience levels and departments are nominated by their supervisors and peers to join the all-expenses-paid trip as a reward for good work. Despite their outward appearance, the Strong Capital trips are not boondoggles, stressed George Poorman, senior vice president-institutional, and a participant in this year's trip to Europe.
The trips are heavy on education and rather short on leisure time, but the experience is well worth the sore feet and sensory overload, said Mr. Poorman.
The idea behind the trips and many other activities at Strong is to get employees to look at their work and private lives from a different perspective through educational activities. The company brings in well-known speakers such as Margaret Thatcher and Jane Goodall to its Menomonee Falls, Wis., headquarters at least twice a month to help expand employees' horizons. The educational study tours have a similar goal, Mr. Poorman said: "The company's goal is to develop people's long-term potential beyond their day-to-day responsibilities at work."
This year, Mr. Poorman and his colleagues accompanied Mr. Strong around Belgium, Hungary, Spain, France and Poland with the intent of getting a better understanding of the mission and operations of the European Union. The Strong group visited government agencies, universities, other financial services companies and clients. Participants had exactly two hours of free time during the eight-day trip, but no one minded, Mr. Poorman said - they were having fun learning how the EU works, how new entrants like Hungary will change with membership and how the dollar has been affected by the euro.
"I can tell you that with the experiences I had, I came back and read 20 articles in the Economist and the Wall Street Journal and heard some on NPR with a new, deeper perspective than I had when I left," Mr. Poorman said.
Previous Strong educational tours ventured to Finland, India and Vietnam.