EMBA Work Life Balance: How to Master Higher Education Time Management | TopMBA.com

EMBA Work Life Balance: How to Master Higher Education Time Management

By Dawn Bournand

Updated May 29, 2018 Updated May 29, 2018

Though some may argue that all MBAs are created equal, the program format that may set the time-management superstars apart from the rest is the Executive MBA. Unlike a full-time MBA program, EMBAs are based on the idea of educating participants while they are still in their highly demanding jobs. Which means work life balance takes on an entirely new meaning. Add to this the fact that a typical EMBA participant is in his or her 30s, and you realize that in addition to work and school the very important factor of family also often comes into play. Juggling all three at once seems like it would be a completely overwhelming time management challenge, but many top EMBA programs work to support their students’ work life balance as much as they can. When asked, participants themselves will often say it was very tough, but they found they were capable of far more than they had ever realized.

Buy-in for the balancing act

One of the keys to mastering time management while is to make sure that those around you are aware of what you are undertaking. It is important to make sure they are there to support you when you aren’t able to keep up with everything you had done before adding higher education to your balancing act. Many schools encourage family members to come for school visits and outside class activities so they can feel that they too are a part of this learning journey. According to Marcel Austin-Martin, admissions manager for the Global EMBA at CEIBS, “Every Global EMBA class elects a class committee, who assist in organizing activities such as family days, volunteer events, sports events, mixers with visiting international programs.”

Nyenrode Business University alumnus, Niels Dierckx(class of 2011) advises candidates to make sure they have created the right circumstances to make the best of the program. “It should be an enjoyable and deeply satisfying experience,” he says. “This will undoubtedly mean that you will have to make some short-term sacrifices in other parts of your life. The EMBA not only affects you, but also your friends, colleagues and family. Their support is essential to succeed.”

Work life balance support

Many programs include coaching, workshops and leadership training to create a success mindset to help cope with the balancing act of successful time management and to help participants push past what they once believed they were capable of.  “Work hard, study hard and play hard. This is our credo at HEC Lausanne”, says Dan-Thi Nguyen, the school’s communications manager. “Our participants are pushed to the point where they realize that they can go beyond their limit. We believe that this is an important prerequisite to developing an attitude of change. Once they are aware of their capabilities, we give students the necessary tools to perceive the world from different perspectives and the confidence required to responsibly behave and lead.”

Michael Schmidt, director of marketing for the OneMBA and EMBA programs at University of North Carolina Kenan Flagler adds, “With a personalized approach to career development, the OneMBA program includes seminars, training sessions, and 1:1 coaching to establish a multifaceted approach to career development and accelerate the careers of OneMBA students.” And though participants are encouraged to push their limits many programs also incorporate stress management and other coping techniques into the curriculum. “At CEIBS,” Austin-Martin explains, “we also provide additional ‘personal health management’ sessions to make participants aware of issues related to stress and poor health that can impact their career, as well as to offer simple solutions to improve the quality of life in the workplace.”

Time management with reason

The balancing act of juggling work, family and school is made a bit easier now that we are in such a connected world. But watch out if you’re planning to use your electronic devices to boost your time management skills. Though your smartphone or tablet may make your work life balance a bit easier, you could be in for a surprise when some professors require you to leave the electronics at the door, or at least turn them completely off. Marianne Vandenbosch, director of the McGill-HEC Montreal EMBA program reveals that, “For fun in class, the penalty for making any noise from electronic devices (e.g. phones buzzing, beeping, ringing etc.) is champagne for the class. Three or four culprits get together and treat the class to a lovely glass of bubbly, which is a great way to unwind and enjoy after a long day of classes.”

Many alumni will tell you achieving work life balance is a challenge, but one they definitely do not regret. Rachel Denny, a Lancaster University Management School alumna (2012) confirms this: “It is a challenging course where only the truly dedicated will succeed. Ultimately that's why it is so highly regarded.” 




This article was originally published in October 2014 . It was last updated in May 2018

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Written by

Dawn Z Bournand is associate director of the Executive MBA department at QS and handles editorial content for the department which includes serving as editor-in-chief of the QS TopExecutive Guide. Along with two of her QS colleagues, she recently wrote the book, QS TopExecutive Passport - Your essential document for entry into the world of Executive MBAs.  One of her favorite parts of the job is serving as an MBA/EMBA expert on webinars and panels, at conferences and in the media.


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