The decision to study for an MBA or EMBA is not taken lightly. The search will begin for a best-fit programme several years before the programme starts and will take in to account such things as location, reputation, faculty (teaching as well as research), value for money, career prospects, alumni engagement, values of the school and its character. All are important, but the last two are unique and will ultimately become part of who you, as an alum are.
It’s time intensive but this level of ‘reconnaissance’ will not be wasted, and done correctly you’ll be on the right path and studying for a programme that will help you discover who you are, dream of what you want to be and give you the determination to achieve your goals.
The MBA is a full-time programme and the EMBA or Executive MBA programme is often seen as a part-time alternative to the MBA. However, that may be a little too simplistic. As an alternative, it’s equally grounded in the latest lessons to equip graduates with the skills, knowledge, and networks to develop in their career. The fact that the programme is delivered over the weekends makes it a serious choice for some, to align with family and career commitments. Additionally, the EMBA also sets itself apart by offering an immediate network of like-minded peers and the opportunity to advance yourself in your career.
EMBA candidates are expected to bring a broader and deeper experience than students joining the full-time MBA. Possibly already senior in your career, or at least with 5 -10 years’ work experience you’ll find your class to be a little older than the average MBA (average age of an EMBA is usually around 34 years). The EMBA is also structured so that you’ll be ready to take a leading role in your company immediately after finishing or part-way through. Put another way you’ll be somebody who’s looking to accelerate in your existing career, with the benefit of applying in your organisation, the lessons learned in the classroom. It’ll feel more intensive, but the learning is more tangible and the results quickly visible.
When thinking about the EMBA as a career pathway ask yourself what will be your responsibilities after you graduate, will they be new and more challenging? Are you looking for promotion within your current company? Do you want to go beyond your current specialisation? Also, and not to be overlooked, do you have your boss`s full support? Are your colleagues on board? And will your family/partner understand the pressures you’ll be under for the next two years? Singularly and collectively they’ll have a direct bearing on your success and overall EMBA experience.
Keep your boss, colleagues and family informed about your work load; the course treks you’re expected to participate in or the projects deadlines you need to complete. Get them on board as you’ll need their support for the highs, and the lows; for the absences from work, and the missed family occasions. And, since you need to apply what you learn from the EMBA classroom during this learning journey, these will be the people you ask for the feedback you need.
And if you do decide to change your career during the EMBA program, many do, look more broadly at all career opportunities because as an EMBA you would have attained a different skill set, so think carefully about what you offer to recruiters. Your brand and the brand of the EMBA is different to that of the MBA so don’t just follow the MBAs into the recruiting cycle.2