Executive Master vs Executive MBA (Interview)

 A better alternative combining core management skills with innovation and new technologies.

Executive Master vs Executive MBA (Interview)

Opal Fritz-Nicholls serves as the programme director for the Executive Master at École Polytechnique. Specialised in the educational field since 2005 and in executive education since 2008, her previous positions include working for the EMBA at HEC Paris and executive programmes at INSEAD. Going beyond the strategy, development, and implementation of the programme, she advises candidates concerning their professional projects.

What is it that attracts experienced managers to your Executive Master programme?

The Ecole Polytechnique Executive Master is a unique degree with a strong technological aspect. Its format of 12 modules of one week each (nine in France and three international) spread over 14 months allows participants to join a cutting-edge programme in innovation, technology and management while working full time. The goal is to train leaders with an average of 15 years of professional experience who are in or are going to be in an upper management position.

What are some of the unique experiences and expertise of your faculty?

The state-of-the-art modules are a strong differentiating point from a classical EMBA. They cover the main technological areas at the centre of much of today’s innovation. These are given by research professors from École Polytechnique and other leading scientific institutions. As with the EMBA, there are courses on core managerial skills, but there are also numerous courses on innovation management, entrepreneurship, leadership, and professional/personal development.

How does your programme prepare executives for business leadership in a constantly changing world?

Four main themes are covered in our Executive Master:

• Fundamentals of management: strategy, finance, marketing, human resources.

• Management of innovation: design thinking, marketing of innovation, project management, entrepreneurship.

• Technology: data science, IoT, industry 4.0, new energies, new materials, biotech.

• Professional and personal development: leadership, negotiation, change management.

How can Executive Master participants customise their individual study experience?

The group project is an important part of our programme as it allows participants to implement in a concrete way what they have learned on subjects that matter to them. The project could involve starting a new company, developing an innovation for an existing company, or a more “classical” strategic project (international expansion, acquisition, etc.).

How would you describe the culture in your Executive Master programme?

Our goal is that each intake be as diverse as possible. Naturally, candidates are asked to have a strong interest in technology and innovation and we receive applications from engineers; however, this is not a criterion for applying. Lawyers, doctors, and applicants working in various business sectors (commercial, sales, finance, etc.) are encouraged to join the programme. Even though the initial diploma is taken into account, professional experience as well as the candidate’s professional project are equally important. The programme is in French and English for now, but we plan to launch a new intake 100% in English in 2021.

What are the latest career development trends for Executive Master participants and alumni?

It really depends on the professional and personal projects of each participant. Based on the tradition of École Polytechnique, the goal of the Executive Master is to train leaders from all kinds of sectors and organisations, to ensure they are capable of designing, deploying, and managing in an international perspective with a strong technological dimension. Since the start of our programme in 2017, we have had several participants that have started their own company or advanced in their existing company, either during the programme or shortly after.

This article is original content produced by Advent Group and included in the 2019-2020 annual Access MBA, EMBA, and Masters Guide under the title “Executive Master vs Executive MBA”. The latest online version of the Guide is available here.

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