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Is Now the Right Time to Study an Executive MBA?

Is Now the Right Time to Study an Executive MBA? main image

Sponsored by ESSEC Business School Asia-Pacific

Making the case as to whether now is the right time to study an Executive MBA is personal for every individual.

The world is a very different place to what it was just six months ago. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, worldwide job losses and a topsy-turvy economic market, it’s inevitable that many are wondering whether now is the right time to step back in to the classroom.

We spoke to Professor Cedomir Nestorovic, Geopolitics Professor at ESSEC Business School and Academic Director of the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific program to find out his thoughts.

Professor Nestorovic

Professor Nestorovic. Image credit: ESSEC Business School Asia-Pacific

Why do you think now is a good time to study an EMBA?

As countries continue to open up and the world learns to cope with the impact of COVID-19, it’s undeniable that global economies and job markets have been heavily affected. With a potential loss of almost 25 million jobs worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), an overall rise of underemployment and large income losses across the board, upskilling has never been more crucial. This marks an opportunity and a checkpoint for the global workforce to review skillsets and long-term career goals, adapting to the needs that are most relevant in a post-pandemic world.

While adapting to this “new normal”, we are also reviewing our EMBA program curriculum. We don’t expect to change the courses offered in the program, but rather enhance the content to empower and equip participants with the tools they need in order to understand and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.

What advice would you give to someone who’s deciding whether to study an EMBA or an MBA? What are the key differences?

Executive MBA (EMBA) and MBA degrees have proven to be career accelerators and springboards, potentially leading to multiple benefits including career advancements and salary growth. The programs differ in terms of course format, admission requirements, curriculum, and fees.

Most notably, the key differentiator is that an EMBA program is designed for experienced working professionals – particularly C-suites, senior managers or business owners who have accumulated significant working experience, averaging around 14 years. As participants are working individuals, the EMBA programs are mostly part-time. At ESSEC Asia-Pacific, for example, they can obtain their Executive MBA degree within 15 months.

An MBA program, on the other hand, is typically full-time and designed for professionals with an average of six years of working experience. The degree length can vary but is typically one to two years. The intensive full-time Global MBA program that we offer [at our campuses in France and Singapore] is 12 months.

What do you think are/will be the biggest implications on business as a result of the pandemic? How will businesses as a whole (including the people) overcome the challenges?

We expect to see industries continue to digitize, as we see a shift in consumption behaviors to more online and digital solutions. In addition to changes in the way people access and consume products, we will also see changes to how we live and work. Working from home for at least part of the workload will continue to be a norm in the foreseeable future, with some even choosing to shift employees to remote work on a permanent basis

To adapt to these changes, collaboration and constant upskilling is key. Academic institutions like ours need to continue working with industry partners to co-create and customize courses that are tailored to evolving organizational and societal needs. Businesses will also need to adjust their operating models and leadership strategies to cater to the ‘new’ normal context we are now in.

What are the key skills you think businesses will need to future-proof themselves in a post-COVID world?

Now more than ever, businesses and organizations need exceptional leaders that will help them navigate through the crisis and implement successful COVID-19 recovery strategies. Beyond that, skills such as innovative problem solving, and strategic thinking and decision making will remain vital as we enter an increasingly volatile, uncertain and ambiguous business environment. More and more quantitative tasks can be automated now, so the emphasis on soft skills will gain momentum as well.

How does the Executive MBA ensure students go on to develop such skills?

Our Executive MBA program is designed to nurture entrepreneurship and innovation skillsets, and a deep understanding of the global and regional business contexts. This mind-set helps prepare future leaders for continuously changing landscapes and uncertainty, through adherence to best practices and essentials of business.

At the same time, it also equips them with the tools to build strong interpersonal and leadership skills to lead and adapt through a crisis such as COVID-19.  The ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Asia-Pacific program is built on the following pillars to ensure the success of our students:

  • An international outlook with a pan-Asian core, with courses examining new business models in Asia, future powerhouses and international residencies.
  • An innovative curriculum incorporating the latest business trends in topics such as Big Data and Digital Transformation, Value-creating Innovation, Branding with Digital and Social Networks, dealing with E-platforms.
  • Soft skills are also present with courses such as Geopolitics in Asia or Ethics and CSR considerations.

An inclusive approach with a strong focus on actionable learning and tactical frameworks applicable in the workplace. While these pillars will remain our guiding light, we are constantly reviewing our courses to include important elements that allow participants to cope with and understand the business environment post-COVID-19.

How can a student without a business background best approach the prospect of studying an EMBA?

Executive MBA programs typically require a substantial number of years of business experience and are catered largely to C-suites, senior managers and business owners. The best approach would be to garner some business experience and, if the candidate does not have any prior business experience, they can consider exploring a master’s program or other postgraduate business study as an initial step on this journey.

What do people need to keep in mind if they’re considering studying an Executive MBA in the near future?

Interested professionals should seek to understand their motivation for furthering their studies – whether to expand their knowledge, become a specialist in the same or new field of expertise, or improve their overall career prospects. Having clear personal and professional goals articulated will enable one to be focused in their research on courses available and in turn make an informed decision about fit between goals and course offering.

Our academic directors and admission teams are also committed to helping applicants in such reflections and finding their fit across our various campuses and programs. Interested participants can also consider speaking to alumni and current students of a specific degree, program ambassadors, and career ambassadors to get a personal view of the experience or speak to career and program counsellors.

What is ESSEC doing to support current Executive MBA students and prospective Executive MBA students in light of the coronavirus pandemic?

Over the next few months our campuses will slowly be opening its doors for executive education participants in the customized and certificate programs. Where possible, many classes will also still be conducted online, in line with government regulations. In Asia Pacific, for example, distancing learning will remain the norm unless instructed otherwise by authorities.

The ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific program has also put in place a series of scholarship grants in light of the pandemic to be offered to deserving candidates interested in joining the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific October 2020 intake. Our full list of scholarships for the Asia-Pacific can be found here.

Written by Stephanie Lukins

As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopMBA.com and TopUniversities.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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