5 Alumni Stories about the Executive MBA Journey

These personal reflections about different EMBA programmes illuminate the exceptional value of the experience.

5 Alumni Stories about the Executive MBA Journey

Everyone’s growth path is unique. Yet, certain aspects appear to be universal across the globe. The following alumni stories reveal some of the most exciting and widely appreciated features of the Executive MBA format.

Read on to discover what makes the EMBA experience a mindful and eye-opening journey for seasoned business professionals.

Get one step ahead: Gain insight and network with insiders from top-ranked EMBA programmes worldwide.

Adapting continuously to a changing world

For Zoe Chan, managing a nongovernmental mental health organisation in Hong Kong during Covid-19 meant an even greater need to learn and grow. She enrolled in the Executive MBA programme at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (US) to amplify the organisation’s impact on underprivileged communities. For Ms Chan and many other leaders, continuing to learn is the best preparation for a world that is experiencing exponential change.

The pandemic has completely altered our lives and posed unique challenges in the social service sector. I want new tools to help me work on behalf of those who suffer from mental illness, especially during this ‘new normal.’ I’m hoping to gain some practical skills and new frameworks to help me lead my team through this difficult time,says Ms Chan, who is also a recipient of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholarship.

Turning challenges into positives

One of the words you will encounter most often to describe the Executive MBA is “challenge”. Some class participants are on the lookout for a new professional challenge; others are surprised by how challenging this new environment can be. In both cases, EMBA participants learn how to embrace difficulties and turn any situation into an opportunity.  

Marta Planinc, who graduated from the EMBA programme at IESE Business School (Spain) in 2019, discovered that “Being a student again brings with it all kinds of challenges, but above all, it forces you to make the most of your time, both personally and professionally.” And Jacobo Domínguez-Blanco, IESE EMBA Class of 2018, describes this transformational experience as one that “takes you to a challenging and demanding place,” which still feels like a family.

Joining an EMBA after the Marine Corps

The best Executive MBA classrooms are full of diverse individuals, each representing different nationalities, cultures, and professional backgrounds. Another student story from Chicago Booth shines a light on the learning experiences of veterans and military personnel.

Brittney Bennett is a third-generation Marine and the first in her family to become an officer. After nine years of active duty service, she transitioned to the private sector to become an attorney. Despite having faced high-stress situations daily, Ms Bennett felt insecure about qualifying for the EMBA programme at Chicago Booth.

Don’t underscore your military service or your background,” she says. “What veterans bring to the table is beyond comparable. Our ability to work in team settings and handle conditions of extreme stress may not be obvious to the everyday civilian, but shoot for the moon and go for the top school.

Appreciating every corner of the world

As the world is cautiously starting to get back to travelling, the EMBA reminds us of its far-reaching immersion in global business. From consulting projects in foreign organisations, through international trips on different continents, to alumni reunions back on campus – alumni such as Naidu Kanakala look back with appreciation on their Executive MBA memories from abroad.

These trips were eye-openers in the truest sense. In 2019, I spent over 45 days travelling and experiencing many countries and two continents I was wholly unfamiliar with,” he highlights. Mr Kanakala is a CEIBS (China) alumnus from the Global EMBA 2018 cohort. He is Indian, but in his current role as an IT operations director, he oversees Huawei’s IT operations for a Nigerian mobile service provider with over 14 million customers.

You cherish these experiences because there’s simply no substitute for seeing and feeling the realities of somewhere so different. You can’t learn about that in a classroom in the same way. It’s just not possible.

Forging a strong community

Professionals step off from their executive journeys having gained much more than business insights. They create an invaluable network with class participants, faculty members, and other alumni. Just as Susana Robledo, IEMBA alumna from the University of St.Gallen (Switzerland), managed to do.

I would highlight we had an amazingly dynamic and motivated group of people and we formed a strong community that drove our journey at St.Gallen,” Ms Robledo notes. “This was really one of the biggest take-outs of the programme for me because I learned as much from our teachers and experts as from my peers.

So, whether you are looking for a boost of managerial confidence, a powerful support community, or your new purpose in leadership – the Executive MBA world is full of alumni stories you will relate to. The EMBA is a welcoming home to everyone looking for growth.