My EMBA life began in late 2006 when I enrolled in Fudan-Washington University’s joint EMBA program. I had felt somehow imprisoned by daily work and didn’t have the means to pull myself to the next level. My boss, the company’s country manager, strongly recommended that I do an EMBA. I figured that since he had also done this program and later gone on to become country manager, it would be worth it.
Bright and early
Class started at 8.30 am and a session typically lasted one hour. The professor posed the questions and led the discussion. Most were real business cases, and classmates jumped in from different perspectives and shared the learning with others. Everyone was drawing on a lot of experience.
When discussing past business case studies, you’d often hear a student speak up and say, “Professor, actually I happened to be in this company at that time and it was not like what it was in the case. What really happened was…”
Each half day there was a break-out session for case study and group assignment. The challenge was to make important decisions in less than an hour. Working in groups was like a battle, but no matter what information we had, as a team we had to make a decision and proceed – just like in the real world.
To prepare for classes, there were textbooks and a reading folder to finish. To give you an idea of how long it would take to complete, a typical text book was about 500 pages, and a typical folder – full of articles and cases – was about 3 kilograms! Frankly, I didn’t find myself devouring it like the latest Stephen King novel.
In addition, after the class, there would be an assignment to write. The professor claimed each one should probably take five hours to complete. However, students who got them done in such a short period of time tended to end up with a “low pass” mark.
I would usually find myself finishing one class and writing the assignment, while reading ahead to prepare articles and cases for the next course. Yes, the EMBA is only four working days and two weekends of classroom time per month; but I’d be busy with work on most nights and weekends. If you ask my classmates what the most precious commodity is, their answers would all probably be the same: time.