Leadership Development and the EMBA Experience

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Aude Slama graduated from the executive MBA program offered between the US’s Kellogg School of Management and Germany’s WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management (Kellogg-WHU) in 2011. This joint EMBA program is now ranked the eighth best in the world, according to the QS EMBA Rankings 2018: Joint Programs.

Having previously worked as a human resources manager at Goodyear in Luxembourg, the EMBA degree enabled Slama to pursue new career opportunities in the field of human resources in the US, first with Eaton Aerospace and then with ClubMed, where she served as the vice president for human resources North America.

Yet, three years on from business school, the mother of two decided to go it alone and founded international executive search firm, Slama Global Search, in Florida. Now, in addition to her work with clients and executives across the globe, the EMBA alumna is also able to provide career coaching services to current students of the qualification.

EMBA alumna, Aude Slama, shares how the degree has benefited her career

I decided to do an EMBA for the following reasons:

- To become a leader in my field. The EMBA program helps you develop yourself as a leader.
- To interact with a diverse group of professionals who had, like myself, managerial experience.
- To broaden my scope. I wanted to own a P&L (profit and loss) and support a business unit. In order to get there, I needed to develop myself in certain areas (for example, in finance).
- To access a quality network. Sharing best practices and developing partnerships is very important to me. Being able to reach out to fellow alumni or students all around the globe, and at any time, is a real added value.

What advice can you give to those who are thinking of embarking on the EMBA journey?

To take my decision, I followed the following steps: I started the process early (at least six months prior to the application submission deadline). I asked myself, "what is important to you?" based on where I was at with my career. From there, I pre-selected three programs. Then, I met with alumni and faculty members of my chosen programs and made my final choice.

Regarding my own experience, it was important to me to join a global program as I was mobile and working for an international company. It was also necessary to make the program as convenient as possible because I had a family and was often traveling for work. Having pre-selected my three programs, I ended up choosing Kellogg-WHU and it was one of the best choices I have ever made!

How can EMBA students maximize their time and experience during the program?

During the EMBA program, I really encourage students to: Take the time to develop a strong network and nurture it; formulate a career development plan; be open-minded; participate in discussions as much as possible and do not be too shy to share your point of view; lastly, bring fresh ideas to your workplace.

What challenges can EMBA students expect and what is the best way to deal with them?

An EMBA program is an investment, both a personal and financial one. It is also a commitment to your employer, your family and to yourself. Finally, it is an adventure - a physical, emotional and mental one! These are the challenges. You will enjoy the program and succeed if you build strong relationships with your classmates and encourage each other, as well as by being curious, staying focused and, most importantly, finding a balance.

What are the rewards of an EMBA?

You will be part of a strong network for life – Kellogg-WHU is my second family - and the EMBA degree will give you access to leadership opportunities. In my case, I became wiser and a better listener. I also became more confident - confident in my development as a leader and member of the executive committee at work, and confident outside of work.

Aside from your work in executive search, you also provide EMBA coaching services; how did you get into coaching?

In executive search, we develop relationships with clients, but also with candidates. When a candidate reaches out to me, I like to spend some time with him/her - to understand where they stand in their career and to see how I can help. Assisting EMBA students therefore came naturally and, indeed, both services are closely linked.

What difference does coaching/leadership development within an EMBA program make?

Today, most business schools offer a leadership program in the EMBA. These programs help students figure out where they stand in terms of leadership skills development, define their developmental plan and understand what they should focus on next.

In my opinion, the real added value, I would even say 'competitive advantage' to a business school's leadership program is its career coaching services. Indeed, it acts as a bridge between the business school and the student’s professional status/job.

Once this service is in place, the student can discuss their performance in the school's leadership component with his career coach and determine the best way to bring this information to their boss or HR representative at work and start a constructive career discussion at the workplace. Alternatively, if a student is in a time of career transition, the coach can provide customized services that help with the following: Writing an executive résumé; branding the candidate’s profile; creating the candidate’s story or elevator pitch; determining sectors/positions of interest; and preparing for interviews.

This article was originally published in September 2016 and was updated in April 2018 with up-to-date rankings information.

Written by Sophie Mathiaut

Sophie M Mathiaut has been working in higher education management for over nine years in both North America and Europe, and now heads QS’s executive MBA product division. Prior to this, Sophie worked for the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA Program in Germany, and the New York Institute of Technology and World Education Services in New York City. Sophie specializes in higher education marketing & recruiting, research, and executive education.

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