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New Leaders Council

Rise of EMBA's

Julianna Davies is a regular provider of information about leadership MBA programs, and her piece below on the ever-popular executive MBA should prove insightful for many New Leaders Council readers. The NLC blog talks a lot about cultivating leadership. As Ms. Davies explains, much of this can come down to education -- particularly in today’s cutting-edge marketplace.

How to Get Your Company to Pay for Your MBA

For individuals who have experience in upper and mid-level management and want to boost their careers through an academic program, an executive MBA could be just the thing. More and more schools are offering such programs, and a number of companies are also willing to foot at least part of the bill -- a win all around for enterprising young executives.

Introduced nearly 70 years ago, the executive MBA, or “EMBA,” has become the most lucrative academic degree program in graduate management education. The executive MBA has always been positioned differently than the traditional MBA. The EMBA is aimed at full-time working managers, and is therefore formatted to accommodate people with very busy lives. Most also feature amenities that go well beyond those of traditional full-time or part-time MBA program. The EMBA is organized to enable students to complete their degrees in shorter periods and provide opportunities for exposure to international research and travel.

In a recent article in U.S. News & World Report, Jeff Greer notes that the main difference between a traditional MBA and an executive MBA is job status and program structure. Many EMBA students are required to have five years of post-baccalaureate experience. This allows the students to pursue their education while still getting full pay, and a majority of employers will cover all or part of the fees. Full-time MBA students have intensive schedules, making it tough to maintain a job. EMBA and traditional MBA programs vary substantially with respect to admission standards, as well.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton EMBA program is a good example. This program tops the new 2012 ranking list, and is academically the same as its internationally recognized traditional MBA program. The delivery of the curriculum, the experience profile and near-term career aspirations of students, and the nature of the student experience are substantially different.

An EMBA’s focus on the learning demands particular to experienced business leaders is enormously impactful. “According to the 2009 Global Management Education Graduate Survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, graduates rate the executive M.B.A. the highest among M.B.A. programs,” U.S. News & World Report has said. The survey of 5,214 students from 203 schools reportedly rated executive MBA graduates as the most satisfied with their education. While sketching out the benefits of an EMBA over a traditional MBA, Dr. Alisa Stewart Smith of the University of Cape Town states that “EMBA design covers the salient content of a traditional MBA, but it does so from access through perspective rather than from silo-contained content. Knowledge is obtained within a particular frame and not solely from a content point of view.” A comparison between the two programs is also highlighted in a blog post in MBA Podcaster.

Getting an EMBA is one of the most solid investments that executives can make in themselves, asserts a recent Washington Post article. Intense leadership development, greater strategic vision and immediately applicable skills are all benefits for an EMBA graduate. But perhaps the most commonly quoted and highly anticipated benefit is that of a greater salary which is nearly guaranteed. The article also highlights how the Executive MBA Council report shows a reduction in the actual payback period for an executive MBA .” The Executive MBA Council reports 37 percent of students exiting an executive MBA program expected a promotion – 43 percent were actually promoted. Not only that, but once promoted they are more likely than graduates who received promotions from other programs to report an increase in their budgetary authority, according to a GMAC Global Graduate Survey.”

Organizations understand the benefits of their employees having an EMBA degree. A Huffington Post article states, “According to The Wall Street Journal's 2008 survey of corporate human-resources and executive-development executives, 64% of companies saw sponsoring employees as a way of retaining talent. One quarter of the companies witnessed an immediate benefit, as EMBA graduates are stronger managers and leaders. Another quarter received the same benefit within a year.”

“In the past few years, M.B.A programs have seen an uptick in students from small businesses,” The Wall Street Journal has said. Among other benefits, sending employees back to school helps small companies compete against big-name competitors. “The knowledge and training the degree offers can help our consultants hold their own against bigger firms where employees typically hold M.B.A.s.It helps you rethink your strategy. We’re trying to be [smarter] in the way we compete,” the partner of a small firm Blein Consulting told the Journal.

Experts believe the EMBA will continue to create a substantial ROI for corporate America, if it is willing go beyond prospects for short-term profitability. This sentiment has led many leading companies to be supportive of their employees who wish to pursue an EMBA. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, prominent among these companies are John Deere, IBM, Microsoft, Eli Lilly Corp, Deloitte and Accenture.

Employees working at less enthusiastic companies often need to do a bit of convincing. As the article in TOPMBA suggests, put together a document which outlines the proposal, explaining your motivation and underlining the corporate benefits. Prepare the ground during performance reviews on a regular basis, and talk to any other employees who were supported by the company to do an Executive MBA and discuss their experience and learn about internal attitudes to such training.
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