EMBA Candidates Are in The Driving Seat

Schools are Taking More Time to Attract Top Candidates

Part-time MBA and Executive MBA programmes are the top choice for executives looking to earn their MBA within two years at most, while pushing their current career prospects to the next level. In addition, business leaders are able to build solid networks as they enter and complete the programme with the same group of students.

Being international

Many business schools are also placing stress on the international exposure that EMBA students acquire through their programmes. New campuses are opening in different regions of the world, so now is the time to consider applying to a top school that has recently opened a second, or even a third, campus. On the IESE Global EMBA programme, students may elect to take a week-long module in Bangalore, India. This provides them with an ideal vantage point for understanding one of Asia's largest, fastestgrowing economies alongside China. EMBA participants are able to witness first-hand the capabilities of this up-and-coming global player, which offers untold commercial and cost-saving advantages. As its economy expands, India is playing an increasingly important role in the interdependence of the Asian, European and US economies. IESE cross-fertilises its EMBA programme as well. Professor Prakash Apte, director of the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, spoke recently to IESE EMBA students at the Madrid campus about the synergies and convergences between India and China. In fact, IESE attracts thirty nationalities in each class, with 80 percent international students and a full 7 percent coming from Asian countries.

Career development

By focusing on career development, even for senior executives, EMBA programmes help students focus on what to do with the knowledge they acquire in the classroom. Research has shown how trained career professionals help EMBA students match their new skills with their companies' organisational needs, giving students visibility that will help them move forward. "Before the Executive MBA, I had a doctoral degree in chemistry and some management experience," says Livio Tedeschi, Head of Marketing for Crop Protection (UK, Ireland, Nordics, Baltics) at BASF SE and ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Class of 2008. "Thanks to the EMBA, I have considerably broadened my horizons and opened up new perspectives on global business."

To help students move forward in their careers, INSEAD has broadened the reach of its Global EMBA career services to span diverse geographies, functions and sectors. Its approach is twofold, aiming to promote advancement of students within their companies or to help students find new positions. In addition, it offers a series of activities, including workshops, discussions and oneon- one coaching sessions, to help students bring into focus their individual goals for professional development.

Self-funding grows

While companies are pleased to endorse their employees in their quest for an EMBA by allowing them to take time off work for classroom sessions, an endorsement does not necessarily translate into full sponsorship. In fact, admissions officers no longer expect all applicants to secure sponsorships from their companies. In today's current economic climate, a significant number of EMBA students, even those with years of experience, are discovering that they must find their own resources to cover the cost of tuition. According to the Executive MBA Council, 30 percent of all EMBA students received full reimbursement in 2009, compared to 33 percent in 2008; 35 percent received partial reimbursement, compared to 34 percent in 2008; and 37 percent were selfsponsored, compared to 35 percent in 2008.

Networks and quality teaching count

As a result of the growing trend toward selffunding, mid- and senior-level executives have become even more selective about the EMBA programmes to which they apply. Students are paying particular attention to the global networks these programmes offer. While existing peer networks are important to MBA candidates, they want to make sure business schools offer the right location to expand their networks globally. Location is becoming even more of a critical factor, as students are happy to travel four to six hours to attend classes at a campus of a top business school. In addition, executives want to make sure that the coursework offered by their selected programmes corresponds to the realities of the changing and uncertain global economy. In the case of the EMBA in particular, their employers expect them to respond effectively to the new opportunities and challenges that present themselves.

EMBA programmes are demanding

As EMBA programmes work harder to raise their teaching standards, students should be expected to apply the lessons they learn from the classroom directly to their businesses and project teams. In applying their newly learned knowledge to real-life situations, EMBA students will benefit from the modules and the recommended 15 hours of study per week between modules. The benefits of the EMBA programme will soon become apparent as each module adds an extra layer of knowledge that can be applied immediately.

Despite the exceptional circumstances candidates find themselves in, getting into a top EMBA programme requires careful attention to detail. The top business schools expect candidates to submit an application with carefully thought-out essays, so the sooner candidates start the process, the better their applications will be. The admissions officers who supervise the application process are well versed in how the programme operates and who will benefit from it, so they already have an idea of who will succeed. But the advantage of exchanging ideas with high-level students lies in the quality of the interaction. Franz-Joseph Miller, CEO at time:matters Holding GmbH and a 1999 graduate of the Kellogg- WHU EMBA programme, comments: "My Executive MBA has definitely helped me to grow my general management perspective. The programme provided me with great tools to face the challenges of an entrepreneur and manage in a corporate environment, during growth and in the current crisis."

Return on investment

According to the Executive MBA Council, the return on investment is significant after earning an EMBA, with graduates reporting a 23 percent salary increase upon graduation. On some programmes, the salary increase is exceptional. Graduates from the INSEAD Global EMBA programme saw their salaries increase by 71 percent upon graduation in 2008, for an average salary of $216,944, based on the latest Financial Times survey of EMBA programmes.

While salaries are rising across the board, EMBA graduates employed in some sectors of the economy may not see big gains in their pay packages this year. The finance and banking sector, which employs many EMBA graduate executives, is one such sector. Investment bankers and traders have been targeted in the media over bonus packages, so salaries in the financial services industry are not expected to rise as rapidly as in the past. Likewise, salaries in the consultancy sector, another area where EMBA graduates are found, are expected to remain stable this year. However, the salary trend for EMBA alumni in the public and not-for-profit sector is expected to rise, according to the Financial Times. Salaries are just one of the benefits of EMBA programmes, however. A study by GMAC revealed that EMBA graduates rate the quality of staff, fellow students, curriculum, admissions, programme management, student services higher than graduates of full-time MBA programmes. In the same survey, graduates were significantly more satisfied that their education was personally rewarding than other graduates of MBA programmes.

Companies benefit as well through better leadership

In addition to increased remuneration and responsibilities for EMBA graduates, companies endorsing and sponsoring EMBA students benefit too. Because their executives graduating from EMBA programmes apply what they learn in the classroom to the challenges they face at work, companies show a return on investment within 17 months, according to the Executive MBA Council. CEOs of major organisations also appreciate the leadership skills that are taught to their executives on EMBA programmes. Professor Roger Gill from the University of Strathclyde Business School, says: "Executive MBA programmes, run part-time or on a modular basis, provide the unique opportunity for participants to address real leadership issues in their (work) contexts." At the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA programme, participants learn how to apply leadership skills to different roles arising in their work, including those of manager and team player. To learn managerial skills, students work with professional coaches, who develop their selfawareness and reflexivity concerning personalities, emotions and values. To learn teamwork skills, the same students are assigned to multicompetence groups for the duration of the programme. These teams include diverse cultures, educational backgrounds, areas of expertise, corporate roles and schools of thought. This gives every participant the opportunity to constantly explore new and unexpected ideas, realities and reactions.The EMBA programme at the London Business School puts the emphasis on "leadership skills to effectively motivate people, instigate change and move organisations forward." Likewise, the Cass EMBA programme takes the stance that: "Effective leadership depends on the ability to think beyond the obvious, to find answers from imperfect information."

In conclusion, the part-time MBA and Executive MBA offer students and companies alike a return on investment. Now is the time to think about your commitment to your career and a degree that can help take you to the next level of leadership.

p pAccording to the Executive MBA Council, the number of EMBA applications rose from an average of 84 in 2008 to 93 in 2009, with the acceptance rate remaining the same, at 63 percent in both years. "Interest in EMBA programmes remains high, despite the challenging economy," says Michael Desiderio, Executive Director of the Executive MBA Council. "Programmes are also maintaining quality in their admissions standards. It is clear that students are seeing the value of the EMBA." Many success- driven executives are motivated by the value proposition of the EMBA, with a desire to learn sound business knowledge, concepts and methods within an international environment where they can exchange best practices with peers and experts from other industries. "Given all my education and work experience prior to Chicago Booth, I was not sure I would be learning a whole lot academically, but I was really surprised at the amount of knowledge that I have gained here," says Constantinos Economou, an MBA student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business UK campus.

Flexibility is also important to senior executives, who cannot afford to spend much time away from work. Top EMBA programmes adapt constantly to the changing reality of the business world. At the Manchester Business School, innovation in adapting the EMBA curriculum to the needs of mobile executives is paramount. The MBS Global MBA programme enables students to take advantage of its virtual learning environment, including webinars and podcasts, while requiring them to sit in on some face-to-face workshops. Furthermore, Global MBA participants may take between three to five years to finish the MBA, giving them a much more flexible opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-life work situations.

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