An Executive MBA certainly adds benefit to a candidate’s career, but as these EMBA graduates found out, it wasn’t necessarily in the direction they were expecting.
For candidates embarking on an Executive MBA, many will have a clear goal in mind. While the specifics of these goals will vary among candidates, most will have career advancement, in some form or another, high on the list. This may not necessarily be in the form of a promotion, but rather acquiring the skills and knowledge to understand the business better, perhaps start up, or expand, an entrepreneurial venture, or to simply become a better manager.
EMBA alum, Emily Abols joined the Executive MBA at ESCP-Europe to gain a 360 degree view of business. But as she points out, the program opened her eyes to a host of new opportunities and with that, new career goals.
“Studying for an EMBA, you develop this sense of awareness about the world and a curiosity for different things,” says Abols, Head of Marketing and Communications at ESCP Europe Business School in London, a job she landed post-EMBA. “All of a sudden there are areas you can be involved in that aren’t related to your area of expertise.”
For Abols personally, it was Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that piqued her interest, a far cry from her 12 years in the advertising and marketing fields. “CSR isn’t directly related to marketing, but the EMBA allowed me the opportunity to go on a volunteer project to Africa. That’s not something I would have thought of doing prior to my EMBA.”
And the opportunities didn’t just finish there. “When you come out of a program, you want to be involved in programs that enhance others, especially women. So you network more and you give something back. An EMBA makes you grow as a person and as a manager – it expands your horizons.
“Yes, I did an EMBA for career development, but there’s so much more to it as well.”
One EMBA alum who is finding out just how many benefits there are to an Executive MBA is Sam Rosen. “I never expected my [E]MBA to change my world view as profoundly as it has,” he says of his time spent at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in the US. “The career management center staff helped me navigate a changing industry, identifying my core strengths and strategizing the best way to advance. I landed in an exciting new role with significant industry influence that leverages my MBA and my engineering background.”
Rosen says he’s also gained a deep understanding of what everyone in a corporation does. “Understanding their roles opens new conversations and puts me in a position to take broader leadership roles,” he says.
Meanwhile, entrepreneur Chris Ford, likens his Executive MBA to a can of energy drink. Ford, a Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) EMBA alum, founded CycleActive (www.cycleactive.co.uk), a cycle travel company 15 years ago, and although he didn’t need much help with career direction, he’s certainly benefited – and profited – from his time in the business school classroom.
"Even when your business is interesting and challenging to run, you can still get a little stale, dealing with similar issues or challenges year by year,” explains Ford. “The EMBA course is like a big can of Red Bull - it fires up your brain, gets ideas jumping around, and stimulates thought provoking debate. That's a great thing to have after years away from education and it is not only fulfilling, but lets you find your strengths, challenge your weaknesses and grow in confidence as a result.
“I didn't need much help with career direction, but the business-focussed projects have boosted sales, generated new initiatives and given me insights that will help me for the next five years at least."