You are already in the workforce, a manager or an executive, and you feel that you need a break from the everyday routine, a fresh perspective and inspiration to start up something new or pursue a different career path – then perhaps you are already weighing the benefits of an Executive MBA programme.

Executive MBA programmes are de-signed for working managers and professionals with at least six years of managerial experience. On top of already having a demanding day job and family commitments, enrolling in an EMBA suggests busy weekends, late night home-work and often overseas assignments lasting a week or more – but the positive outcome is definitely worth it. An EMBA candidate usually expects salary increase, promotion, development of leadership qualities and entrance to a network of excellent, seasoned professionals – and the EMBA programmes live up to these expectations. Here are five reasons, which will prove the value of the Executive MBA degree. 

A solid investment in yourself

In today’s super stressful and highly in-secure times, the ability to reflect on your knowledge, goals and abilities, and to seek opportunities to take your career to the next level is vital. Going back to school for an EMBA will give you intense leadership development and immediately applicable skills to steer your career in the direction you want it to go, often sponsored fully or partially by your own company. 

Although the percentage of companies, offering full reimbursement is going down, from 33% of North American EMBA students being fully funded in 2006 to only 22.9% in 2012, partial re-imbursement has remained fairly constant at around 39% – percentages that are quite similar for both European and US applicants. However, the number of schools offering scholarships or fellow-ships has risen from 38.8% in 2008 to 47.6 % in 2012, according to the Executive MBA Council. 

A corporate survey by the Wall Street Journal shows the top five skills that an EMBA would address: strategic thinking and planning, ability to work across multiple functional areas, ability to drive results, general leadership and core financial understanding – exactly the skills that would allow you to close the knowledge gap between you and the coveted position you are after. 

A 2013 survey by The Economist found that 64% of the 2012 graduates had al-ready been promoted within their own organisations, and for 2010 graduates this number has risen to 80%. For graduates who have changed companies, 83% are stating that they have moved to a more senior position. 

However, recent surveys show that it’s not only promotion that graduates are aiming for – an increased number of students are starting their own ventures either by themselves or with a fellow EMBA student, often coming up with the idea and creating the business plan as part of an assigned project during their study. The number of entrepreneurs varies per school, but the majority of schools report an increase from 3-5% in 2010 to over 20% in 2012 in the number of people who have started their own businesses after graduation. 

Complex learning experience

Each EMBA programme is designed to give students a refreshing new way of thinking when it comes to business opportunities, markets, strategy and innovation. Not only is the course material rich, but you will be expected to solve real life problems, all while collaborating with executives and senior managers from various industries. You will benefit greatly from the different perspectives and experiences they will bring to the table, and will have the rare opportunity to hear stories, participate in debates and discuss innovative ideas in class sessions and creative study group presentations. The experiential learning opportunities allow students to learn organisational dynamics and leadership, putting their newly acquired knowledge into immediate play. School projects are focussed on real-life problems, often solving a challenge within the students’ current organisations, or preparing them to start a company of their own during or after graduation. 

A “fresh set of eyes”

From the very start of the programme, you will begin discovering new solutions to old problems and will notice your creative thinking reaching new heights. It is exactly the creativity and the ability to innovate that you could use to enhance your, already highly developed, technical skills and would allow you to become a better strategist and macro planner. This kind of business education will take you beyond the numbers and statistics and will empower you to explore and test new ideas and concepts and solve different kinds of challenges, strengthening your confidence in your own decision making and shaping up your leadership skills. 

A life-changing networking opportunity

One of the key assets of an EMBA programme is that it puts you in an environment where excellence abounds. You will find a diverse, dynamic group of bright individuals from various fields and with various backgrounds, working together and bouncing ideas off one another, adding much more to the process than just academic achievement. Having worked together on a number of assignments, you will be seeing these people in action for the course of two years, al-lowing you to get a better understanding of their mindset, decision making and capabilities – which will allow further development of fruitful and lasting partnerships and corporate relationships. 

EMBAs have excellent alumni programmes, providing you with opportunities for lifelong learning and continued engagement with your ex-classmates. Whether you choose an EMBA in your own country, or an international one, you will continue to benefit from your network long after graduation date. 

A worthy ROI

Of course, there has to be something more tangible than just the fulfilment from the academic achievement. Ac-cording to a 2011 Financial Times business school rankings and analysis, MBA graduates see a no less than 60% in-crease in their salary over the two-year period following their graduation. 

For EMBA graduates this increase often comes sooner, as the positive effect of their studies is visible to their managers even before graduation: a 2012 survey by the Executive MBA Council, including 3,072 students from 98 EMBA programmes, shows a salary increase of 17.3% for graduates, measured from programme start to programme end. 

The Economist survey from 2013 shows even better numbers for European EMBA respondents, stating 28% average salary increase during the length of the course and 37% and 45% respectively for the graduates, who completed the programmes one or two years earlier. 

However, ROI is really much more than just numbers. An EMBA gives students the tools to succeed in the future and to think globally and differently – executive-level skills, which are in high demand in today’s uncertain economic climate, as well as a network that could last a lifetime. Over 60% of the respondents of the EMBA Council survey would recommend the programme to a friend and 55% of them confirmed that they are very likely to support the programme as alumni. 

Ultimately, pursuing an EMBA degree is a great personal and professional challenge, as well as fun and mentally stimulating, and it could be a life-changing experience too. Attaching the MBA to your name can affect your hiring chances, your networking abilities, and your innovation skills, but it’s really more than that – it may nourish your entrepreneur spirit and enthusiasm and help you shape and, more importantly, follow your dreams.