Unusual Executive MBA Specializations | TopMBA.com

Unusual Executive MBA Specializations

By Ann Graham

Updated August 16, 2016 Updated August 16, 2016

The ‘traditional’ Executive MBA degree was designed to give students an in-depth general business education, preparing them for leadership positions in a diverse range of industries with a broad base for career development.

However, as these industries have changed, so too has the degree. Business schools – and candidates – understand that to thrive in today’s complex business environment, different approaches need to be catered for. This has led to a proliferation of programs that offer MBA specializations.

EMBA in Intermodal Transportation, EMLYON Business School, France

One of the more specialized of these Executive MBA specializations is the Railway Global Executive MBA. Hosted by France’s prestigious EMLYON Business School, the program will be run by the International Union of Railways (UIC). Provided there is sufficient interest, the degree will have its first intake in 2015. The aim of the EMBA, which is designed to be completed in 19 months, is to help railway professionals develop their managerial skills specific to the intermodal transportation industry.

Professor Pablo Martin de Holan, dean of MBAs at EMLYON, says the two main reasons there is a need for an MBA in the intermodal transportation specialization are globalization and technology. “Since the 80s, the wave of globalization has brought investment to many parts of the world, including some that could not afford railroads before,” he explains. “Now, the combination of capital mobility, new financial engineering of large projects, new technologies, and the desire of many countries to upgrade their infrastructure has brought billions of dollars into new projects or upgrading old networks.

“Newer and more sophisticated networks need talented managers. The need for a specialized MBA has emerged from the rapid upgrading of the industry across the world, the massive capital expenditures that many countries and firms are budgeting, and the increasing complexity of railway managers. Overall, the industry is looking for great managers that are well prepared on the technical dimensions of the industry, but also on the management side that is becoming more uncertain and more complex.”

Professor de Holan says EMLYON’s intermodal transportation MBA is designed to provide solutions to the management challenges of this industry and intermodal transportation overall. “As is the case with any important industry, many of the management tools and techniques that a manager needs are specific to railway and cannot be ‘imported' directly from other industries. Since railway is not totally different from other industries though, some management issues are the same.

“A railway MBA is the perfect answer: participants are trained to master core management techniques and tools, and they also learn to apply them specifically to the needs of their job and their companies. And, because the program is based on ‘action learning’, we are sure participants are bringing the lessons to work and applying what they learn to their reality, creating economic value in the process.”

Motor Vehicle Aftermarket Executive MBA, Northwood University, US

Another unique Executive MBA specialization is Northwood University’s Motor Vehicle Aftermarket Executive MBA. Offering courses in critical thinking and decision making, financial reporting and global marketing, Northwood University’s DeVos Graduate School’s program, which has been designed with input from industry influencers, serves, “Executives employed by organizations that provide products and services purchased for passenger car and light and heavy-duty vehicles after the original sale. This includes replacement parts, accessories, lubricants, appearance products, service repair as well as tools and equipment necessary to perform the repair.” Northwood University’s 30-month program seems to have hit the mark for the specific audience it caters for, going by the testimonials of alumni on its website.

Critical Infrastructure Executive MBA, George Mason University, US

Just as the number of Executive MBA specializations is increasing, so too is the variety of specialized ‘tracks’ within a general Executive MBA; and they’re getting more and more focused. George Mason University’s School of Business has announced it will be adding a ‘Critical Infrastructure Protection and Management’ trackas part of its EMBA offerings from Spring 2015. Comprising modules on cyber security, network risk management and complex infrastructure systems analysis, the degree addresses the very cutting edge of industry safety and security, and aims to prepare executives to manage risks and challenges in a systematic and analytical way. With topics such as ‘Foundations of Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience’ and ‘Assessing and Managing Risk to Critical Infrastructure Systems’, the George Mason University degree program prepares leaders to mitigate uncertainty to minimize obstacles for business operations. The program takes 18 months and is delivered through online platforms and global residencies in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia or South America.

The value of an EMBA

While these top business school Executive MBA specializations are undoubtedly targeted at a specific demographic of candidates, underlying each of them is the traditional model of this prestigious degree, which just goes to show that the EMBA – whether in its original form or as a specialist degree – continues to prove its worth.

This article was originally published in October 2014 . It was last updated in August 2016

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