The executive MBA (EMBA), destined for senior managers and younger executives on a fast-track managerial career, has been the biggest growth area in management education over the past five years, and the trend shows no signs of stopping. Worldwide, applications rose 16% in 2006 compared to 2005.
Why such popularity for the EMBA? In short, like the full-time MBA, it helps people advance in their careers more quickly, but unlike the full-time MBA, it allows them to do so without interrupting their career, or foregoing two years worth of salary.
“In the EMBA Council Survey 2005, 68% of our participants were promoted during the program, and the average salary increased by 36% compared to a benchmark of 21% on typical MBA programs,” Begoña de Ros Raventós, assistant director of IESE’s Global Executive MBA program said.
Geographically, the market for executive education is in flux as well.
“Demand seems to be moving east, not south, from a strong North Western bias.
This is not just in terms of more programs held at least in part in Asia; it is also in terms of bringing talent from India, Lebanon and the Gulf, Eastern Europe and Russia, Malaysia, Singapore and China into global programs,” Mark Norbury, director of INSEAD’s EMBA program said.
Executive programs are proving to be a particularly popular choice in China, because many Chinese managers, especially those in the high-tech industry – a big part of the business picture in this country – simply cannot afford to be away from their companies for the two years most full-time programs require.
Another major reason the Chinese are turning to executive education in increasing numbers is that their international expertise lags behind most of their Western counterparts and they see Western executive education as one of the best ways to correct the imbalance.
In short, more and more Chinese companies now have to compete globally, so more and more Chinese managers are turning to EMBAs for guidance.
Recent studies by the Financial Times also showed that those who stayed with their sponsoring companies were earning more than their peers three years after graduation.
And for those who change companies, the EMBA reassures recruiters that they are serious, ambitious, and able to perform the complex range of tasks required of managers in the contemporary business environment.
Most students at HEC’s EMBA program in China have confronted few occasions in which they have had to think strategically before they do their EMBAs, coming through an education system that values rote learning.
Ninety percent of the candidates in the HEC program come from state-run companies, many with limited English skills.
They therefore savor the opportunities executive education offers to think through problems, reflect with others and put their creativity to work.
They’re not looking for executive programs to tell them how to operate a Chinese company in China; they’re looking to see how global companies operate abroad, and to adapt those ideas to the Chinese market.
HEC professors in China are most often heard saying, “This is how we do things” not “This is how you should do things,” Joshua Kobb, the program’s manager, said.
Kobb also mentioned that most Chinese students in their program bring their own food to class.
Executive MBAs obviously help people to be better managers, but another thing they also help with, and this is particularly important in China, is teaching students the cultural differences involved in doing business in the West.
Some schools have even designed parts of their programs to specifically address this.
Take the Levin Institute at the State University of New York.
Its four-month China Executive Software Leadership Program takes Chinese students to Bloomingdale’s to show them standard Western business attire and introduce them to chefs at restaurants where they get a first-hand look at American and French cuisines.
Broadening horizons, whether they be fashion or business-related, is what executive MBA programs are all about.