What is it that makes thousands of seasoned professionals go back to school?
Do you feel you have reached a barrier at work which stops you from developing your full potential? Do you want to fast-track your career and rise to a C-level position? Or, perhaps, you desire to achieve a significant salary boost in the short-term?
These questions have always been relevant, especially in the present uncertain and inflation-stricken global economy. Although there is no guaranteed cure-all for all possible scenarios, the Executive MBA is a tried and tested solution that goes beyond the material and the mundane.
Since 1943, the EMBA has gone a long way in helping to transform and accelerate the careers of several generations of business leaders. Figures from AACSB International, a non-profit association and business school accreditor, and the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC), show that the popularity of, and interest in, the EMBA have risen over the past decade – even during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Let’s explore the EMBA’s true value which makes thousands of seasoned professionals go back to school and invest substantial amounts of money in business education.
Since EMBA students have, on average, between 8 and 14 years’ experience under their belt before joining the programme, most of them have been outside academia for about a decade. In the fast-paced and changing global economy, business leaders need to stay up to date with best business practices and embrace life-long learning if they want to be ahead of the competition. The many benefits of taking core business modules such as strategy, finance, operations or marketing range from bridging critical knowledge gaps to acquiring a holistic picture of running a business to transitioning from a specialist to a generalist. The latter is instrumental in helping professionals to switch function, sector or even country after completing the programme.
Knowledge without practical application holds little value, as the saying goes. Although part-time in nature and offered in a variety of modes of study, the EMBA is usually packed with hands-on activities and is highly pragmatic. Those who want to experience quick and measurable results are encouraged to directly apply what they have learned in class on the job. Yes, students are able to keep their jobs because the EMBA is geared towards professionals who need to balance work and study.
During one of my recent meetings with a prospective EMBA student, I asked a familiar question, “why do you want to pursue an Executive MBA?” The response I received aptly encapsulates the essence and significance of networking, “Because I want to meet brilliant people!” Often it is not what you know, but who you know that matters. The sheer opportunity to build and expand your network with an international cohort of leaders with diverse backgrounds and industries is an asset which hardly needs to be elaborated on. The possibilities, or rather probabilities, of building professional partnerships and friendships for life in class or within the alumni community are a hallmark of the EMBA journey.
Having exposure to top business professors can be an enriching experience both personally and professionally, yet do not forget the other lecturers in the classroom! In a class of 50, you will find exactly 50 lecturers! This includes yourself.
According to an article in the Journal of Management Education, professionals tend to join the EMBA programme at transitional periods in their lives, often when faced with major personal, professional and self-conceptual challenges. The findings show that the outcome most valued by participants was the feeling of belonging and the process of becoming. Moreover, the results of this study revealed that the EMBA may represent a milestone at which students reassess their lives to either consolidate an existing identity or acquire a new one.
Perhaps the true lasting gift of doing an Executive MBA lies not so much in the career progression or the ensuing financial benefits, but in the chance to experience a journey of self-renewal and reinventing oneself within a supportive environment. It is no coincidence that scores of EMBA programmes feature group and private coaching as well as personal and professional development programmes. For many professionals, the EMBA experience means change, a new direction, a new you.