Leaders Learn Their Own Way: Innovation, Diversity, Agility
Leaders Learn Their Own Way: Innovation, Diversity, Agility

By Kathy Hawes and Zornitsa Licheva, Published: 21 March 2019

Immersing yourself in an EMBA experience will enrich and transform your personal and professional life. Within an EMBA programme, participants learn how to put the latest management and business leadership theories and techniques into practice to give their careers a boost. They polish their networking and relationship-building skills and they expand their professional circle as they interact with professors and fellow executives. And they find that the EMBA programme experience has given them the opportunity to excel as thought leaders in their personal lives.

As Nasser Nammari, Executive MBA Americas Class of 2017 at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (US), noted, “Earning an Executive MBA […] has opened multiple doors for me. Not only did it enable me to switch careers and land a job as senior product manager at Amazon, but it also prepared me with the tools necessary to tackle challenges at any organisation.”

Latest knowledge for the evolving business world

An EMBA today looks very different from a decade ago, or even five years ago. Management theories and practices are continuously evolving, and a modern business must adapt in order to thrive. Some of the latest challenges facing managers and entrepreneurs include adapting to and innovating within the digital world, aiming for workplace diversity (culture, age, experience), and keeping your organisation agile enough to face challenges and beat competitors. Contemporary courses can educate you on these topics and prepare you for implementing solutions within your company.

The fundamentals

Most EMBA programmes begin with a set of core courses required of all students. These include the fundamentals of managerial skills that every professional should learn and practise. There are certainly differences in the approach taken by individual EMBA providers, but the general topics are much the same across programmes. Aalto Business School (Finland) is a good example of a typical core EMBA curriculum. Its core courses establish a wide and firm foundation of business principles by including financial topics such as Corporate Finance, Economics, and Financial Accounting. General management courses such as Human Resource Management, Management Communication, Marketing, and Operations are also essential components of most EMBA curricula.

The specialisations

As EMBA participants have experience and maturity, they are well aware of their interests and needs, as well as their own goals for the programme. Knowing this, schools offer the opportunity for students to tailor their educational experience with courses that uniquely benefit them. Executive MBA programmes are highly customisable depending on each individual’s ambitions for career advancement or change of industry.

For example, HEC Paris (France) allows you to create your own EMBA experience by offering students eight different majors to choose from. They include Luxury, Energy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Aerospace and Aviation, and Leading Digital Transformation. Thanks to such learning tracks and distinct specialisations, programme attendees are able to focus on the information they need the most.

The EMBA trademark

EMBA programmes share many of the same features. All of them are focused on working professionals with career experience (at least some of which is expected to be at a management level) which guarantees a class of like-minded yet diverse individuals all working together towards the same goal.

Flexibility

Nearly all EMBA programmes offer options in terms of flexibility, such as weekend or modular courses and varied programme lengths and formats. Professionals can typically choose between following modules spread out in short and intense residential sessions and combining online lectures with face-to-face interactions. In fact, more and more business schools agree that convenience has become one of the primary factors that impact the growth and popularity of their EMBA programmes. Prominent institutions in the UK such as Warwick Business School, Cass Business School, and Imperial College London all feature some form of flexible personalisation of their Executive courses, points out Della Bradshaw in a recent piece for the Financial Times.

C-style learning experience

Your learning experience will naturally be unique to you, but some features of EMBA programmes will benefit everyone. Offering well-equipped facilities as well as cutting-edge teaching are top priorities for Executive MBA programmes. This means that the faculty is assembled with as much care as the student cohort itself, reflecting a rich diversity of backgrounds, expertise, and nationalities. Many of the leading EMBA programmes provide their students access to the different campuses, residential facilities, and shared faculty of the schools. Participants benefit also from exchange opportunities, guest courses, and international trips.

Unique features of EMBA programmes

Your EMBA courses will provide you with extensive skills and knowledge that will be of use throughout your career. And while many of these programmes share the same or similar features, some programmes offer unique benefits in which you may be interested.

Career development

In addition to the information you need in order to take your current career to the next step or even to switch careers altogether, your school may offer personalised career development options. They might be integrated in the curriculum or combined with comprehensive career services. Some of the highly appreciated EMBA services are career, life, and executive coaching and the more traditional salary negotiation workshops, high-impact interview preparation, and tutoring on presence and personal branding on social networks.

Global exposure

Exposure to new cultures – especially the inner workings of international companies – is a significant advantage to aspiring leaders. As an Executive MBA participant, getting accustomed to international and intercultural nuances in business will be at the centre of your learning experience. There are a multitude of directions EMBA programmes can take in crafting the global exposure of their students.

ESADE Business School (Spain) offers an optional “International Track” that includes one week in locations in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. At Aalto University (Finland), students can take elective courses at its Helsinki campus or many other locations such as Singapore, Taiwan, Poland, Iran, and South Korea.

As mentioned, it is also common for schools to partner with each other to offer EMBA students opportunities for global exposure. The Global Executive MBA at SDA Bocconi (Italy) spans three continents via its partnership with Rotman School of Management (Canada), CEIBS (China), and Copenhagen Business School (Denmark).

Lifelong learning and connections

The Executive MBA journey continues long after you graduate from the programme. The faculty members, visiting professors, and school alumni form an extensive and active network that will enable you to con­tinuously reap the rewards of the MBA de­gree. The regular workshops, conferences, and alumni get-togethers make it easier for everyone involved to stay in touch and ex­change personal and professional advice.

Furthermore, business schools pay particu­lar attention to lifelong learning opportuni­ties within their alumni network. Increasing­ly, graduates are encouraged to loop back in their education and attend relevant courses at convenient points in their lives. More and more universities are offering course discounts, free mentoring, and other inno­vative initiatives in an effort to boost the continuous learning curve of their alumni.

Shake the world in a gentle way

In addition to the foundational business knowledge and practical skills you acquire, you will polish your soft skills in a way that will significantly elevate your leadership potential. You will hone your mindset and personal skills such as communication, openness to different views and perspectives, perseverance, and even a healthy dose of humility. You will continuously practise collaboration, exploration, and openness towards innovation. All of this will empower you to reach personal and professional fulfilment.