An Executive MBA may turn out to be the best strategic investment decision a career focused person could make in the course of their work life
Doing an Executive MBA is a well proven career acceleration and transformation step. It is also argued that an Executive MBA may turn out to be the best strategic investment decision a career focused person could make in the course of their work life. An Executive MBA is typically an 18- or 24-month commitment to part-time study whilst continuing to work full-time. It is a time commitment, away from work. So if you’re planning to approach your employer about taking this step, you may need to ‘sell’ the reasons, and why–emphasizing on some key points on how it will benefit your current (and perhaps future) employer.
Here’s a quick ready reckoner you can refer to before approaching your employer for an Executive MBA:
1) Executive MBA timetable & schedule – Make sure you choose an MBA with a timetable or schedule that doesn’t clash with your work timings and commitments. A weekend-intensive mode study and weeknights study is very popular with Executive MBA students. Your employer will then likely be assured that you’ll still be able to give your complete focus and commitment to work too.
2) Short-term benefits – Always inform your employer about the short-term benefits of the course, and what it will help you bring to the table.
3) Longer-term benefits – The ultimate goal of doing an Executive MBA is for you to become a better all-round management generalist, with a much wider perspective as well as building the capabilities for leadership positions in the future. You will learn about Accounting, Finance, marketing, human resource management, data analytics and strategy, as well as how to apply models, frameworks and theories in a holistic and integrated way. The longer-term benefits for your employer are likely be immense and it will be conducive to list them out.
4) Business acumen – Covid-19 has taught organisations the hard lesson that they need to develop capability to deal with ambiguity, and the importance of strategic decision making within the context of uncertainty. The best Executive MBA programs use case studies and project-based learning to help students develop business acumen for coping with ambiguity. Students are required to justify their reasoning and state any assumptions they are making when communicating their thoughts verbally or in writing. These are important skills that they can transfer back to the workplace.
5) Soft skills & self-reflection – Executive MBA learning is increasingly emphasising the development of soft skills as well as more self-reflection through, for instance, journaling. Workshops can focus upon improving presentation skills, selling skills, managing conflict at work (and home) and better time management. Developing all these skills should have a direct, value-adding impact back to the employer.
6) Applied and project-based learning - An Executive MBA is not a theoretical degree. Rather, it is a very applied, practical degree encompassing projects-based learning. These projects could be specifically applied to your employer immediately e.g., developing a marketing plan for product X (in a Strategic Marketing Course). Faculties at these MBA programs are usually recognized authorities in their fields, and they weigh in on project-based. For the employer, this could act as free consultancy. The major strategy project at the end of the course, usually tackles a project of major strategic importance for the employer. An academic supervisor who will guide you on the project can be on provide immense value to your employer.
7) Networking – An Executive MBA cohort typically consists of 30-50 participants comprising 10+ industry sectors. Therefore, there is a huge opportunity to network, and these networks may subsequently prove valuable to an employer.
8) Learning from other sectors/ industries - Doing an Executive MBA involves learning through analysing case studies about companies across sectors and industries. The student will learn the latest trends and developments across sectors.
9) Saving Money - Doing an Executive MBA should not be considered a direct substitute for Executive-Education (Ex-Ed) courses as Ex-Ed are usually of much shorter duration, typically a few days. However, if you’ve done an Executive MBA, it will save the employer money.
10) Organisation Role Model - A person studying for an Executive MBA can be a role model for their organisation. He/ she denotes that they have a focused commitment to their professional development and career growth over an extended period of time. Doing an Executive MBA demonstrates that they wish to grow and transfer the value add to their employer.
11) Employer is Growing - John Maxwell, a famous leadership guru once told me that leadership growth is directly correlated with organisational growth. For example, if the leader is evaluated as 4/5, your organisation will never be rated as a 5/5. Doing an executive MBA, increases the probability of that person reaching a 5 rating. In life, everything is relative.
12) Prestige spill-over – Having your staff doing an Executive MBA at a globally reputed and ranked business school can be very prestigious for the employer.
These are just some of the reasons you can use to sell your plan to your current (and future) employer. Do remember to think of these reasons from their perspective, not just from your own. Of course, doing an Executive MBA is a very personal decision and journey of learning so, do think of (at least) 5 other reasons to help promote you doing an Executive MBA. The author, Dr. Gary Stockport, is Dean EMBA and Professor Strategy at SP Jain School of Global Management, and is based in Dubai. He has lived and worked in UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and now the UAE. He has received many Awards for teaching and research and is commonly regarded as a global thought-leader in Strategy having published books and academic and practitioner journal articles. He has consulted with 200+ Public, Private and Not-for-Profit organizations from countries all over the world.