Creating Change with an EMBA |

Creating Change with an EMBA

By Dawn Bournand

Updated June 2, 2015 Updated June 2, 2015

It has been said that the only constant in life is change and that is particularly true in today’s rapidly paced society. Many business schools are now encouraging their EMBA participants to delve into the idea of creating change as much as possible during their time in the program. According to Kathy Harvey, director of the Executive MBA Program at Säid Business School, University of Oxford, “An Executive MBA should be a transformative experience. Oxford University is a challenging and stimulating environment and the Oxford Säid Business School Executive MBA program is designed to change the way individuals think about themselves as leaders, and about how they can make a difference to the future of their firm and its place in an increasingly complex global environment.” As Harvey points out, pursuing an Executive MBA will have an impact not only on creating change in your work life but also your personal life, your community life and your interaction with the world in general because it changes what is central to all of these things, you.

Creating change in the workplace

The most immediate impact of an EMBA will be felt at work because you are, after all, studying for a business degree. Dr Marian Iszatt-White, director of the Executive MBA at Lancaster University Management School believes, “An MBA creates change in the workplace in three main ways. It gives the student a strategic mindset, which enables them to ‘speak the language’ of senior strategic leaders and consider organizational issues from this perspective. It enables them to make evidence based decisions and to look critically at issues with which they have to deal. And it develops them as senior leaders, able to interact effectively with colleagues at all levels within the organization.”

Within an Executive MBA program, participants are required to do case studies and, in some schools, are able to bring real business cases from their own companies into the classroom. This sets the stage for creating change and discussion within the safe confines of education, which is then used to create change in the workplace when students positively apply the ideas that were generated. As Marianne Vandenbosch, director of the McGill-HEC Montréal EMBA program explains, “The EMBA McGill-HEC Montréal aims to make the program relevant for participants and their organizations right from the outset. The most common case study that participants encounter is the one on their own organization. In fact, one of the key program spanning projects is the Change Project where our participants implement a significant change in their organizations.
“Alumnus Bernard Truong (McGill HEC-Montreal EMBA class of 2013) is someone who created real change and value through the Change Project in his position as director of the Strategic Business Relationships group at National Bank (BNC). His project – which he entitled the Monarch Project – has already generated US$2.65 million of value for the bank, and should generate another US$1.3 million in the near future.”
Nick Barniville, director of degree programs at ESMT (European School of Management and Technology) summarizes, “A participant’s experiences during an EMBA program are some of the biggest catalysts for change in his or her career path. Not only do they strengthen their general business knowledge and skills but they are also able to learn how their management styles impact others around them and the company as a whole. The network built between the current participants and alumni of an EMBA program serves as a resource for ideas and innovation for years to come during one’s career. A company should not underestimate the importance of participants being able to integrate what they are learning during the EMBA program into their work from the beginning. For the company it is like having their employee receive feedback from multiple consultants at once while at the same time having the chance to act immediately on the feedback in the workplace.”

Creating personal change

Though the change in the workplace is obvious, change is perhaps felt even more at a personal level for many participants. This was certainly true for Florence Klein, a member of the TRIUM Class of 2005. Klein shares, “An EMBA is a transformative experience. You grow up a lot in a program like TRIUM where you are exposed to so many cultures, so much high-quality information, and pressure. Even though all of us had stressful careers with long hours, no one could imagine we had the inner resources to do it all. You have to develop survival skills to give your best everywhere, in your studies and of course at your job, where no one knows you’re juggling these other responsibilities. Of course, the other lasting benefits are the level of quality information you acquire, which elevates your decision-making process and increases your confidence about moving ahead with your projects. You just know that you can do it, that you now have the keys.”

It is this opening up to the new and the never considered that makes the EMBA experience so powerful in creating personal change. Wei Wei Tan, Edinburgh Business School Executive MBA Class of 2013 strongly believes the completion of her MBA will lead to further personal and career progression. “The program not only improved my professional knowledge, it also gave me more confidence to take on new challenges and positions with higher levels of responsibility. It also helped to refine my decision-making and problem-solving skills. The whole studying process boosted my self-discipline and determination to achieve certain milestones in life.”

Creating change for a (global) community

Once you have had a chance to reflect on how the EMBA can impact on both your personal and professional life, you can then begin to think about how much further you can take things. How could you use your new knowledge to bring about change on a community and even an international level? What difference could you make through the privilege you have been given? Dan-Thi Nguyen, communications manager at HEC Lausanne believes, “Change is created through attitude, leadership and tools. At HEC Lausanne, 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 develop an attitude of change. Once you are aware of your capabilities, you can perceive the world from different perspectives and will have the confidence required to responsibly behave and lead. This is how change happens at both personal and professional levels in the realization of your potential and capabilities. During the program, participants are involved in teamwork and projects that enhance their leadership skills to be efficient drivers of change. We make sure that they have the right instruments to take advantage of every opportunity they encounter and we encourage change throughout their lives and companies.”

Finally, as Marjo Jarvinen, marketing director for global business development at HEC Paris says, “Providing our participants with a truly transformational learning experience is one of the key aims of the HEC Paris Executive MBA program. We actively encourage them to think out of the box, experiment with new ideas, revisit the way they do business and act as architects of a responsible world.” As you consider if an EMBA is the correct path for you, consider how you too could bring about the change you would like to see in the world.

This article was originally published in September 2014 . It was last updated in June 2015

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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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