Double-edged education

Many Executive MBA graduates say
their experience profoundly transformed both their professional and personal lives. And many look back at their
EMBA journey as the most fulfilling period in
their educational career, leading them to new
challenges and preparing them for increased
leadership responsibilities.

But what about the second constituency
served by the Executive MBA degree —
the employers?

“The challenge for all EMBA programs is to
serve both constituencies with distinction,”
says Dr. Michael Salvador, Ph.D., chairman,
Department of Leadership and Executive
Development, Coles College of Business,
Kennesaw State University. “And the result
should be a truly exceptional value opportunity for the contemporary EMBA student.”

Smart Business recently spoke with
Salvador about how EMBA programs are
addressing the specialized needs of experienced professionals seeking an MBA and
building a pool of high performers ready to
fill the needs of the business community as
the baby boomers retire in record numbers.

How do EMBA programs differ from other
advanced management degree programs?

EMBA programs are specialized venues for
midcareer management training, differing
from other advanced management degree
programs mostly in the areas of curriculum
content and delivery models. The first differentiator is the cohort class structure, meaning EMBA students typically join a single
group of students at inception, called the
cohort, which stays together as a group
throughout the entire curriculum. Some programs additionally subdivide the cohorts into
permanent teams.

The second difference is specialized curriculum. Because of the diversified background and level of work experience of its
students, a typical EMBA program is expected to cover a wide range of business acumen
learning and interpersonal skills development delivered in smaller, more compact
teaching modules to fit the broad curriculum
into weekend classes.

A third difference is a highly integrated curriculum to assure the students are gaining an
executive perspective of the pedagogy.

Who is the typical EMBA candidate?

Unlike traditional MBA programs, the typical EMBA student averages 35 to 40 years of
age, with 10 to 15 years of post-university
work experience. Accordingly, attaining the
skills required to effectively lead others is a
primary element of the value proposition for
the EMBA student-customer. This involves
not only learning what has been codified
about leadership, per se, but also acquiring
the critical interpersonal skills associated
with successful leadership execution.

What separates EMBA faculty from traditional MBA faculty?

The ideal EMBA faculty resources are educators with actual business experience to
augment their academic credentials. Many
EMBA programs supplement their academic
faculty with members of the business community who serve as guest lecturers.

How are EMBA programs serving employers?

The case has never been clearer. Several
factors have emerged in recent years to
accentuate the relevance of EMBA programs
to the strategic agenda of the business community. First, the globalization of business
means employers will need a new breed of
midmanagers conversant in the global enterprise, experienced in multinational virtual
teaming and willing to continuously learn.
Second, recent dramatic demographic population shifts, such as the retirement of the
baby boomer generation, are creating a mentoring and coaching void in the workplace
that EMBA students are being prepared to
fill. Finally, the next generation of senior
managers is far more likely to engage in
career mobility than their predecessors,
meaning that retention of high performers is
a crucial initiative for organizations.

EMBA programs historically have been a
proven way for an organization to support
identified high-performing midmanagers
whom the organization wishes to retain
while, at the same time, influencing the selection of the particular program that best suits
its own specific needs. In many parts of the
world, some universities have even been
engaged to deliver EMBA programs in-house
to actualize this value proposition.

What is the greatest business challenge
addressed by EMBA programs?

With succession planning having been identified in some business publications as one of
the greatest challenges facing business in the
new century, new senior managers need to
be equipped to lead without the benefit of in-house mentors and coaches. And these new
senior managers need to know how to mentor and coach others. Many EMBA programs
are intensifying their focus on this critical
‘soft skill’ development.

Other trends are clearly just beginning to
materialize, and their impact will be significant. While graduates of business schools
around the world continue to populate the
entry-level employee ranks with future managers via their traditional MBA programs,
EMBA programs are uniquely positioned to
create exceptional value for experienced
managers, their current and future employers, and the business community at large.

DR. MICHAEL S. SALVADOR is chairman, Department of Leadership and Executive Development, Coles Executive Education Programs,
Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University. Reach him at (770) 499-3685 or [email protected].