How to Secure Corporate Sponsorship for Your Executive MBA

Secure corporate sponsorship EMBA

There is no concrete set of rules for how to get sponsored to do an executive MBA program. Obtaining corporate sponsorship is not a simple task; the tuition fees for a first-rate EMBA are typically high. However, there are many things you can do to persuade your company to invest in your – and their – future. Having an EMBA-qualified employee at a business can be a terrific boost for a company, but persuading managers to loosen the purse strings to finance this can be a difficult task.

With this in mind, we have compiled a few suggestions to help you pave the way to executive MBA corporate financing success.

Create a sponsorship proposal

If you are looking at how to get sponsored for an EMBA then it is important to focus on your company’s interests before your own. Treat the entire process of obtaining corporate sponsorship as a business pitch proposal. A sponsorship proposal follows much the same template as a business pitch.

Corporate sponsorship is not always easy to obtain, especially if an executive MBA was not part of a sign-up package when you joined the company. However, it is far likely to be granted if you prepare a sponsorship proposal detailing your motivation for pursuing an EMBA.

Much like a business pitch, you will be required to go into minute detail about how you doing an EMBA will benefit the company’s interests in your sponsorship proposal. Focus on areas that you feel your company could improve on and detail the benefits of sponsorship for an EMBA. The training and development that you will receive on an EMBA program can far outweigh the financial implications of company funding.

Look at the modules on your executive MBA program of choice and outline them to your employer. Focus on each aspect of training and development the courses will provide you with and spell out the specific benefits of sponsorship in your proposal.

Think of this as a career plan. You are requesting to be an investment in your company’s future so be sure to promote yourself to your managers – outline where you see yourself within the company over the next two to five years and how an EMBA will help you to realize these goals. Corporate investment will be easier to obtain if you include these extra steps in your sponsorship proposal.

If you are really wondering how to get sponsored, tell your company how much your ability to lead, manage and motivate other staff members will be heightened upon completion of an EMBA. Not to mention your strategic thinking and global leadership will be significantly enhanced too – and these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of sponsorship your company could profit from.

Build a relationship of trust

You won’t be able to negotiate corporate sponsorship for an executive MBA unless you’ve worked at your company for a least a few months if not years. During this time, you will need to prove your loyalty to the company before you can negotiate corporate financing, even after making all of the benefits of sponsorship apparent. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t start thinking about how to get sponsored from the moment you walk through the door. Planning your business pitch in advance is vital.

One way to guarantee your loyalty to a company is drawing up a contract that guarantees commitment to a company after completion of the EMBA. Commitments like this will usually last for a minimum of 12 months. Remember, your company is going to want to reap all the rewards they can from your training and development before you can even begin to think about parting ways.

Networking, networking and more networking

Networking in your company is great practice for when you embark on your executive career. However, the benefits of networking in a corporate setting will offer you much more immediate rewards if you execute these skills correctly. It is possible that you will be competing with other people in your workplace for corporate sponsorship, so a little ‘schmoozing’ may be a key component in getting sponsored.

Find out who the decision makers are in matters of corporate financing. Network with the people signing off on the sponsorship and make your intentions known to them. But be careful not to go straight to the top of the ladder – this could be seen as presumptuous. And they won’t know who you are. Start by confiding in your closest mentor at work, encourage them to endorse your idea to people further up the chain until you reach the decision makers with relevant backing from colleagues. The added input and support from colleagues will be invaluable when building up momentum for corporate investment.

Mutual flexibility

When pursuing corporate sponsorship do not just focus on the financial assistance you require from your company. While this is obviously important, it is not the only assistance you will require. Show your managers you are serious about an executive MBA education by including other relevant factors in your sponsorship proposal.

Realistically, both managers and you will know that pursuing an EMBA will require slightly lighter workloads and flexibility on working hours to attend long weekend lectures. This is not something you should shy away from mentioning in a business pitch to your managers, indeed – bringing these issues up yourself so that you can discuss viable solutions will show that you’re a serious candidate for corporate sponsorship.

If your company is worried about the added costs of travel and accommodation, you could offer to pay for those factors yourself, providing your company pays the actual tuition fees. Offering to pay these extras also contributes to building trust when you’re trying to get sponsored.

Address company financial concerns

However, before you offer to assist with these payments, make sure you look into the other options available to your company. Although it is advisable to highlight things like your training and development in your sponsorship proposal, this may not always sway corporate investment in your favor. Money talks – and if the price of an EMBA program is proving to be too much of a financial risk for your managers, you may need to try a different tack to secure corporate financing.

There are a number of possibilities you can present to them. One of the more common tactics used by EMBA participants is to negotiate a shared-time solution – meaning that you will leverage your vacation leave or accept unpaid leave to attend some EMBA courses.

Another strategy is to enter into a contract whereby a company’s financial support and performance bonuses are linked to successful intermediate academic results. This is a risky strategy but could be the difference between successful corporate sponsorship and rejection. At some business schools, companies are also permitted to pay program fee installments over the course of three years (and sometimes longer) if paying an immediate lump sum is an issue. This is why it is essential to do thorough research into your institution before bringing your business pitch to your managers. It could be the difference between a yes or no answer from your employers. 

Helen Vaudrey
Written by Helen Vaudrey

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