It would be nice to be able to have the philosophy that you can’t put a price on health, but the reality of rising costs in the health care industry means that approach can’t work.

“As a country, we can’t continue to spend 20 percent of our gross domestic product on health care without making sure we’re getting the best possible value,” says Dr. Brandon Koretz, associate professor of clinical medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and student in the Executive MBA Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Koretz says before entering the MBA program he had a tendency to spend whatever it cost to provide a valuable resource.

“My perspective was, ‘let’s get it.’ Now I understand that every dollar spent on one thing is a dollar that is not available for something else. I understand more fully the trade-offs and their implications,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Koretz about the MBA program and the perspective it has given him on the health care industry.

Why were you interested in the MBA program?

I’m a geriatrician by training and care for Medicare patients. I also work at an academic health center and teach others how to provide care.

Medicare is at the cutting edge of financial changes in health care, and there’s a need to provide the best possible care at the most reasonable price; I need to understand the financial principles to ensure that is occurring. My Hippocratic oath isn’t just a promise to the patient in front of me, it’s also an obligation to be a good custodian of resources provided by society, which is paying for that patient’s care.

How has the program changed your views regarding the health care industry?

It’s given me another tool set to use when considering problems, a perspective I didn’t have before. In medical school, I didn’t have a finance or accounting class. I’m now a much more informed decision-maker when making budgets.

I’ve been able to bring business principles back to the people I teach. UCLA’s medical school is great about training doctors to understand up-to-date scientific literature, but we not only need to provide technically good service, we also need to meet patients’ emotional needs. If you’re rude, patients aren’t going to come back or may not follow your medical advice. So I’ve initiated discussions about things like wait time and how it can be improved. In years past, doctors would say, ‘That’s not my job.’ But, of course, it is; evidence is being accumulated that shows clinical outcomes are better when there’s a stronger connection between patient and doctor. A conscious focus on service can strengthen these connections.

How does the Anderson experience differ from other MBA programs?

What’s amazing at Anderson is how it is a community of learners. There’s an incredible diversity among students. Faculty can walk me through the fundamental concepts of finance while teaching people who work in the finance industry. Students are also sensitive to that diversity, and a person with a financial background will help me during a break when there’s something I don’t understand. There’s no ego or shame involved. People tutor each other — one group came in weekends on their own time and set up a series of tutoring sessions for students who didn’t understand accounting.

The expression I hear is, ‘At Anderson we take care of our own.’ Everyone works together to ensure the best possible learning experience. I’ve been able to develop a broad network of people in many industries. One project involved gathering information about the travel industry. Using resources at Anderson, a dozen interviews were set up within days. When it comes to Anderson, whatever else you’re doing stops. We really take care of each other.

Dr. Brandon Koretz is associate professor, clinical medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Reach him at (310) 206-8272 or bkoretz@mednet.ucla.edu.

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U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Juan E. Rose III lets his military experience provide perspective when considering the task of balancing work, school and family life.

A student in the Executive MBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Rose’s leadership qualities earned him a John Wooden Global Leadership Award Fellowship. At the award ceremony, he was asked how he manages his busy schedule.

“When I met Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, she said, ‘You’re a Marine on active duty in San Diego, you go to an Executive MBA program in Los Angeles and you have a family in Murrieta, Calif. How do you do this?’ I commute 40,000 miles a year and I’m working hard and learning every single minute. But my Marines and I are not getting shot at, so it’s OK,” Rose says.

Smart Business spoke with Rose about the MBA program and how it’s helped prepare him for entering the business world when he leaves military service.

Why did you enter the MBA program?

After 10 years of active duty, I’m looking to transition to the private sector and I’m using the MBA program to couple the leadership experience I have with more technical knowledge.

I’m a financial management officer in the Marine Corps; however, finance in the private sector is for-profit, levering debt, and managing, maintaining and acquiring assets. As a government-certified defense financial manager (CDFM), I’m more preoccupied with safeguarding and disbursing public funds, while accomplishing the mission with minimal resources. Profit is never a conversation we have.

How does the profit motive change things?

Profit stresses people in completely different ways. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to work as a consultant recently, and I’ve been working with a couple of clients as a student. I am learning every day that people manage risk in order to maximize profit; Marines manage risk in order to save lives. It still seems to me that if you focus on your employees — an invaluable asset — while managing risk, profit maximization will be a result.

To me, profit just changes the perspective. When you’re managing life or death situations, losing money is not as important. As a leader you can then focus on learning from the mistakes to ensure you and your team don’t allow that to happen again. The complexity of defense financial management in the military comes from the environment and the mission, not the application of financial assets.

When you start using debt and trying to maximize profit at all costs, there are a lot of strategies and different ways to do that. That’s what I am trying to obtain from the MBA program and so far it’s exceeding all of my initial expectations.

What type of job will you seek after graduation?

I’m leaning toward management consulting. It will give me the opportunity to work in teams and continue to learn about industry as a whole in several different arenas.

It’s important for me to bring value to a company that values its people and affords them the opportunity to be intellectually challenged. My No. 1 priority is to work in a company that gives back somehow.

My long-term goal is to be a professor and to continue to coach, mentor and inspire people. The most important part of what I’ve accomplished over the past 10 years is coaching, mentoring and inspiring Marines to exceed their own expectations.

I look at some of our professors who sacrifice and take time to do that for us. They are able to manage their professional aspirations and personal lives, while also continuing to educate us. That’s what I’m passionate about — paying forward what was done for me.

Juan E. Rose III is a MBA candidate at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Reach him at (760) 458-7408 or juan.rose.2013@anderson.ucla.edu.

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Knowing the right questions to ask is the key to developing strategies to improve a business.

“Simple questions can have a big impact. They help you see the wood for the trees. One is, ‘What is the main constraint, i.e., the bottleneck, I face in my business?’ Sometimes the answer is obvious, and it’s money or time. Once you identify it, then you can put energy into devising a strategy to alleviate it,” says Guillaume Roels, assistant professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Smart Business spoke with Roels, who teaches a core course on operations and technology management for the Executive MBA program, about the class and takeaways students have incorporated in the workplace.

What subject material does the course cover?

It’s mostly process management. The key is learning to view organizations as processes and streamlining those processes. You start by defining a strategy, and operations management delivers that strategy. If your goal is to be price competitive, operations will enable reduced costs. If the strategy is to achieve high quality, that will be the focus.

The analogy I use is the engine of a car; operations are the engine of the company and deliver value to customers.

Are students already familiar with operations management?

Students come from a broad variety of backgrounds — some are entrepreneurs, some work at big corporations like Cisco, Walt Disney and Amgen. To a certain extent, all have been in a process. But they may not have thought about this notion of process. Typically, people see the work they do, but they don’t see the bigger picture. An attorney in the legal department in the gaming industry may not realize he or she is part of a process of product development and what he or she does impacts product design or a release date. Looking at an organization from a global perspective can have a large impact on efficiency and quality.

Starting from strategy, the class looks at operations and tries to eliminate waste and identify improvement opportunities. It’s a very practical course; students can apply tools they learn right away. It also helps them think more strategically on how to turn operations into a competitive advantage.

Can you provide examples of students applying these concepts?

One tool is a process flowchart, which helps visualize how work is done in an organization. A student from a Saturday afternoon class said he went back to his organization on Monday and started drawing a process flowchart.

For many students, time is their main constraint. They all have families, school and high-level positions, so they have limited time. For them, operations management is time management. So they can self-apply the operations lessons to make the most efficient use of their time.

Entrepreneurs, in particular, are known for under-delegating — the classic example is the owner who signs off on every bill the company pays. When you realize the value of your time, it can be better spent meeting with prospective clients and trying to raise funds.

What’s different about taking this course at UCLA compared to another Executive MBA program?

The East Coast is much more corporate. There’s a different way of doing business on the West Coast, particularly in Southern California. It’s part of the culture and the high-tech industries here — aeronautics, biotechnology — very specific types typically not found on the East Coast. That’s reflected in the classroom; it’s very diverse, much more than a traditional school. They’re from a broad set of small and large companies, and it makes the discussion very rich.

Students develop lifelong relationships, and there’s a great feeling of community. Often, former students call and want to talk about a problem they’re experiencing at work. That problem usually doesn’t require any in-depth consultation; it’s a matter of making sure they’re asking the right questions and adopting a holistic perspective on the problem they’re trying to solve. ?

Guillaume Roels is an assistant professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Reach him at (310) 825-6749 or guillaume.roels@anderson.ucla.edu.

Event: How Do I Pay for My MBA?” Hosted by Associate Dean Gonzalo Freixes. Saturday, April 13, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. at UCLA Anderson.

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Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:16

What to look for in an executive MBA program

Executive MBA programs are geared toward people who have been working in the business world for around 14 years and have quite a bit of managerial experience, says Carla Hayn, senior associate dean of the Executive & Fully Employed MBA Programs at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“Most executives who enter an Executive MBA program are more mature, experienced and about 10 years older (average age of 37) than people enrolling in full- or part-time MBA programs,” she says.

Smart Business learned more from Hayn about how to find the right MBA program.

How can an executive determine whether getting an MBA degree is the right choice?

It you are on the brink of being promoted or have already moved into a top management position, an Executive MBA program will enhance your skill set and your ability to succeed in your career. You’ll learn more about the specific areas in which you may need more specialized knowledge (e.g., corporate finance, brand management, supply chains, etc.). You’ll have classmates who are experts in their fields from whom you can learn. You can take an array of elective courses to acquire further expertise.

Why are elective offerings an important part of MBA programs?

All Executive MBA programs provide you with the ‘core’ business knowledge in accounting, finance, marketing, economics, etc. However, programs vary widely in the number of electives available to executive students. At UCLA Anderson, we provide 15 electives each year especially for our executive students in diverse areas such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Venture Capital & Private Equity, and Online One-to-One Marketing. In addition, executive students can travel through our International Study Programs (recent trips include Brazil, China, South Africa, India) and our exchange programs with partner Executive MBA programs throughout the world.

Are there other features that distinguish one Executive MBA program from another?

Absolutely. Among the other important factors to consider in choosing a program is the stature of the faculty. Exactly who will be teaching you? Are they excellent communicators? Is the classroom experience not only challenging but also invigorating? Ask to attend a class and find out for yourself if the students are engaged in the learning process.

UCLA Anderson is known as a leader in experiential learning. The Strategic Management Research Project is a capstone course that synthesizes the knowledge our executive MBA students acquire throughout the program. Five to six students work on consulting teams for a six-month period to solve a multi-faceted problem confronting an organization.

All first-rate Executive MBA programs should also stress leadership development to help you develop your own management style, building upon your strengths. Look for a program with experiential workshops, engaging seminars and informative guest speakers. Talk to the current executive students and find out how satisfied they are with the various components of their program — the students are an excellent source of information.

What is the return on investment of the Executive MBA program?

Most estimates show that the present value of the incremental earning power over an executive career due to an MBA degree is about $500,000. This high return is due to the fact that executives with an MBA degree are usually promoted faster, are considered for a wider array of executive positions, have access to more job opportunities through their increased business and social networks, and have a different view of themselves that prompts them to explore higher and more financially rewarding positions.

A survey of graduates of the UCLA Anderson’s Executive MBA Program shows an average salary increase of 158 percent within five years from graduation. While this survey was taken when the economy was stronger, it is not unreasonable to believe that an executive’s salary would double within five years of graduation. The knowledge acquired in an Executive MBA program translates to a higher rate of business success, whether you are working for a large public company, a smaller private company, or are self-employed.

Carla Hayn is senior associate dean in the Executive & Fully Employed MBA Programs at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Reach her at (310) 206-9225 or carla.hayn@anderson.ucla.edu.

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Janine Magyar reached a career plateau and was looking for a new challenge when she decided to enter the Executive MBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“It’s definitely not a program for people who are lazy or are quick to give up,” Magyar says. “It is not easy, but it is so worth it because the rewards are phenomenal.”

After 20 years of working in events and menu planning, Magyar stepped outside her comfort zone and it led to a position as an innovation manager at Mattson, the largest independent developer of new products for the food and business industry in North America.

Smart Business spoke with Magyar about her experiences in the MBA program and working at a job in which she could be “tasting sauces at 7 in the morning and cocktails at 2.”

Why did you choose UCLA’s executive MBA program?

It was convenient for me because I worked for The Walt Disney Company at the time. But it’s also an internationally acclaimed program and it’s very well respected in the entrepreneurial world.

I considered applying for the class of 2008 and audited a class. I listened to how the class interacted and how supportive the students were of each other. There were teaching moments not just from the professor at the front of the room, but also from all 65 students sitting in the chairs. I was impressed with the openness of the classroom environment. There wasn’t the cutthroat competition or one-upmanship that I’ve heard exists in other high-caliber programs.

Why is that the case?

I believe it is systemic in the Anderson culture. I worked in the recruiting and admissions department after I graduated and saw what they look for in incoming students. It’s not just what you’re going to get out of the program, but also what you’re bringing to it as a potential student. The admissions team considers all the pieces and how they will fit when putting together a class.

You’ll learn a lot from an amazing caliber of professor, but you’ll learn just as much in a different way while sitting next to CFOs, CEOs or senior vice presidents in finance or marketing who have had amazing real life experience.

How did the MBA program prepare you for your current job?

The key thing my MBA gave me was a sense of confidence to step out beyond what I had known for so long, which was event management and planning, and food and beverage. I’m still in the food world, which I love and I’m passionate about, but now I approach it from a completely different perspective.

When a client comes to me with a new food or beverage product, I not only can show them the formula they need and how to make it taste good, but I can also get them thinking about what will give this new product a level of competitive advantage and protect it from being immediately knocked off by potential competitors or what kind of marketing strategy to use when presenting the concept to potential buyers.

Did anything about the MBA program surprise you?

I knew I would come out of it a stronger, faster, smarter person, that’s what a good MBA program is all about. But I was really impressed with two things from Anderson. First was UCLA Anderson’s network. I reached out to Anderson alums for my strategic research project and afterward while recruiting and I’ve always gotten a call back. It’s a big school, but it’s a very tight, supportive community.

The second thing that surprised me was how quickly I was able to put the lessons learned into practical application. There were a lot of opportunities for me to go back to the office and be faced with a strategic project or personnel issues that I now had a new way of thinking about. It’s pretty spectacular when you’re in a position to apply what you’ve learned and get a real return on your educational investment quickly.

Janine Magyar is a graduate of the Executive MBA program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Reach her at (818) 486-6590 or j9magyar@gmail.com.

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U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Juan E. Rose III lets his military experience provide perspective when considering the task of balancing work, school and family life.

A student in the Executive MBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Rose’s leadership qualities earned him a John Wooden Global Leadership Award Fellowship. At the award ceremony, he was asked how he manages his busy schedule.

“When I met Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, she said, ‘You’re a Marine on active duty in San Diego, you go to an Executive MBA program in Los Angeles and you have a family in Murrieta, Calif. How do you do this?’ I commute 40,000 miles a year and I’m working hard and learning every single minute. But my Marines and I are not getting shot at, so it’s OK,” Rose says.

Smart Business spoke with Rose about the MBA program and how it’s helped prepare him for entering the business world when he leaves military service.

Why did you enter the MBA program?

After 10 years of active duty, I’m looking to transition to the private sector and I’m using the MBA program to couple the leadership experience I have with more technical knowledge.

I’m a financial management officer in the Marine Corps; however, finance in the private sector is for-profit, levering debt, and managing, maintaining and acquiring assets. As a government-certified defense financial manager (CDFM), I’m more preoccupied with safeguarding and disbursing public funds, while accomplishing the mission with minimal resources. Profit is never a conversation we have.

How does the profit motive change things?

Profit stresses people in completely different ways. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to work as a consultant recently, and I’ve been working with a couple of clients as a student. I am learning every day that people manage risk in order to maximize profit; Marines manage risk in order to save lives. It still seems to me that if you focus on your employees — an invaluable asset — while managing risk, profit maximization will be a result.

To me, profit just changes the perspective. When you’re managing life or death situations, losing money is not as important. As a leader you can then focus on learning from the mistakes to ensure you and your team doesn’t allow that to happen again. The complexity of defense financial management in the military comes from the environment and the mission, not the application of financial assets.

When you start using debt and trying to maximize profit at all costs, there are a lot of strategies and different ways to do that. That’s what I am trying to obtain from the MBA program and so far it’s exceeding all of my initial expectations.

What type of job will you seek after graduation?

I’m leaning toward management consulting. It will give me the opportunity to work in teams and continue to learn about industry as a whole in several different arenas.

It’s important for me to bring value to a company that values its people and affords them the opportunity to be intellectually challenged. My No. 1 priority is to work in a company that gives back somehow.

My long-term goal is to be a professor and to continue to coach, mentor and inspire people. The most important part of what I’ve accomplished over the past 10 years is coaching, mentoring and inspiring Marines to exceed their own expectations.

I look at some of our professors who sacrifice and take time to do that for us. They are able to manage their professional aspirations and personal lives, while also continuing to educate us. That’s what I’m passionate about — paying forward what was done for me.

Juan E. Rose III is a MBA candidate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Reach him at (760) 458-7408 or juan.rose.2013@anderson.ucla.edu.

For information on the MBA Program, Masters in Business Administration, UCLA Anderson School of Management, visit http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/x40700.xml.

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For executives interested in branching out and starting their own business, the UCLA Anderson School of Management offers entrepreneurship courses designed to help them better understand what it takes to make that happen.

“Executives who enter the course have ideas they want to explore either related to their job or not. The course helps them think through the process of whether or not they should give up their job, incur the opportunity costs and strike out on their own,” says George Abe, lecturer and faculty director for the Strategic Management Research (SMR) Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

As they work through the courses, students can begin to better answer questions such as: How do I raise investment capital? What’s the difference between an angel and a venture capitalist? Should I seek outside financing at all? I have an idea, how do I know it’s a good idea?

“They enter school with these questions and we try to be pretty direct on how to answer them. So the way entrepreneurship courses help them is to answer these questions. We do this by having them work through deals and providing examples of best and worst practices,” Abe says.

Smart Business spoke with Abe about how entrepreneurship courses can help prepare executives to start their own companies.

What do the school’s entrepreneurship courses cover?

The school has tried to establish a brand of entrepreneurial education. Faculty thinks entrepreneurship can be taught, at least aspects of it. So the courses are heavy on jargon — the newspapers are full of business jargon and students really want to know what’s going on — how deals are done; how to look at feasibility; and learn about early stage legal formation, financing, venture capital and angel financing. That takes about 10 weeks of study and is the first entrepreneurship class. In that class they’re asked to come up with some kind of business idea they think would be worth pursuing.

Then they take another class called Business Plan Development in which they take the idea they’ve thought about in the first course and write a business plan. The first course is primarily analytic — mainly to analyze markets, themselves, products and make a determination as to whether a company idea is feasible. Once having determined that it’s feasible they go about writing a business plan, which is an action-oriented document, in the latter 10 weeks.

The courses also delve into areas of entrepreneurship beyond starting up companies where acquisitions and spinoffs are discussed.

After that there’s a field study in which some students implement the business plan they’ve developed previously. There also are two elective courses, one on entrepreneurial finance and another on entrepreneurial operations.

What are some reasons executives take these courses?

Many students in the class have thought about their business ideas for a while and they’ve got a lot of the product ideas nailed down, but they don’t know how to think about the financing, marketing and operations pieces. That’s why they’ve come here. In fact, many of the students are ex-entrepreneurs who’ve failed previously and don’t want to fail again.

Another thing faculty tells students is even though you’ve got this nice cushy job at some big company it’s not necessarily secure. The greatest job security you can have is the ability to withstand a layoff and go off on your own.

What kind of time investment should be expected?

Classes are every other week, staring Thursday afternoon and going through the weekend. Faculty, then, assigns two weeks of homework. They have case studies, which are a set of facts about a particular business and they’re given open-ended questions about it. The cases address famous companies like Starbucks — for example, what made Starbucks work while thousands of other coffee shops didn’t scale up — and not-so-famous cases that did or did not succeed. Also, guest speakers come into class to talk about their experiences attempting to get a business up and running.

For each class, students can expect to spend three hours in the classroom and six to seven hours on homework and other preparations. Therefore, the workload is about 10 hours per session minimum. They’re going to take two to three classes at once, so they’re looking at 20 to 30 hours every two weeks.

The workload isn’t trivial, but it’s directly related to their entrepreneurial aspirations. In addition, there is a six-month field study project called Strategic Management Research (SMR) in which students are placed in a company in groups of five for six months. SMR frequently involves international travel.

What can executives expect to gain from this experience?

Students who come back tell me they learned a lot about themselves and whether or not they should be entrepreneurs. They learn how to execute deals. Both the entrepreneurship courses and others emphasize deal-making discussions and what deal terms look like. We walk them through the deal process; help them get familiar with term sheets; and advise them on how to work with legal counsel.

They also leave the program with a network of other students and faculty who can help them with their businesses. You’ve got this group of people you’ve been in this foxhole with for two years and they tend to stick together for a long time. This EMBA group is pretty close. There are only about 70 of them and they see each other every other week for two years. They get to know each other pretty well and they often get together and cooperate.

George Abe is a lecturer and faculty director for the SMR program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Reach him at (310) 206-3082 or george.abe@anderson.ucla.edu.

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Classroom learning can get you a long way, but UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Executive MBA program takes learning to a whole new level.

In the later stage of the program, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the business world of another culture, says Eric Sussman, a senior lecturer at UCLA.

“The program affords students the opportunity to gain a broader perspective of what is happening on the ground in another country or geographical region,” says Sussman, who has led student groups twice to Dubai and, most recently, to Brazil. “They learn how business is conducted in that particular country and have the opportunity to network by meeting a number of representatives from both the public and private sectors across a number of industries. I don’t think you can graduate from a top business school without having that experience nowadays, and students who participate in this program get that in spades.”

Smart Business spoke with Sussman about how an international travel component can enhance an Executive MBA degree.

How has the EMBA program evolved over the past 10 to 15 years?

There have been two broad trends since I joined the faculty in 1995. One is the increased adoption of technology, and the second is the internationalization of the program. In the 1990s, we might have talked about international markets and about the growing importance of China, but we would be doing so from L.A.

That has changed 180 degrees. In any given year, there are at least half a dozen, if not more, of these international work/study trips. It’s amazing how much it has really changed, going from zero five years ago to about 10 this year.

How does the program work?

The international component consists of a full class lasting three-months. There are lectures and typical classroom activities before the course culminates in the actual trip. We talk about issues relating to that particular country or geographic region, whether it is China, Africa, the Far East or the Middle East. Then we spend one week in the country, generally in one particular city.

Students have the opportunity to listen to and meet with representatives of a host of organizations in both the public and private sector across a variety of industries to learn about what’s happening within their organizations specifically and in the country more generally. It’s a win-win-win all the way around, for the school, the faculty and the students. It’s a great opportunity to really understand what is happening globally. The reality is that what happens in Spain or China absolutely affects what happens here, and as business becomes more global, students  need to broaden their understanding and perspective.

What is the typical day like for students on a work/study trip?

The day usually starts by 8 a.m., and meetings start by 9 a.m.. For example, on the Brazil trip, students met with a representative of Banco Central de Brasil, who gave a one-hour presentation on the central bank and what’s happening in Brazil macroeconomically, followed by a Q&A session. That was followed by a presentation from another organization.

The afternoon includes additional presentations, such as one from a representative of a very large and well known oil company who talked to us about the country’s growing oil reserves, what is happening off the coast of Brazil, how that’s affecting the economy, and how it’s going to change Brazil going forward. At the end of the workday, students have the opportunity to explore, as it’s also important to go out and see the culture and what’s important to Brazil in terms of its people. Culture is really important in cross-border negotiations, and you have to look at the whole picture. It’s very intensive and very tiring, but it’s exceptional in every way.

Do students have any say in the focus of the course and the destination?

Absolutely. Students vote with their feet and we have to offer programs that the students want. There’s an add-on cost for them to participate, so we absolutely take into account where their interests are. Once the country or region has been determined, students then have to apply for the course.

This year, for Brazil, we had 60 spots available, and 100 students applied. The school then had to determine who would benefit most and who had participated the most in the international program.

How does the experience impact students?

I think if I’d asked students in January, when the course started, to tell me what they knew about Brazil, I would have heard things like, ‘Samba. The Amazon. Supermodels.’ As far as business goes, that knowledge was probably pretty limited to knowing that it’s a fast-growing economy, part of the BRICs.

If I asked them now, following their trip, however, they could easily talk for an hour about everything that is happening in Brazil, and provide specifics in terms of the economy and demographics, as well as the sources and risks of future growth. Most of them have traveled before, but they haven’t had this kind of immersive experience.

When we get back, we do a debriefing. I’ve done a tremendous amount of international travel and taught around the world, but on each of these trips, I come away with a real change in viewpoints and a much greater understanding of the places we’ve been. And I know if it affects me that way, it affects the students that way, as well.

Eric Sussman is a senior lecturer at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Reach him at eric.sussman@anderson.ucla.edu or (310) 825-3564.

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While some students continue on to higher education directly after graduating from college, many more head out into the world to work. It is only after gaining years of experience and success that they realize they could do even better by enrolling in an executive master of business administration (EMBA) program. Instead of just learning about theories and concepts that they may someday apply, they can immediately apply them in their work lives, says David Lewin, the Nell H. Jacoby Chair in Management at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

“The EMBA program draws people who are very highly committed because their average age is 38 and most of them are juggling jobs, families and the program,” says Lewin, who also serves as president of the Labor and Employment Relations Association. “They have a lot of balls in the air and are trying to do something quite demanding. They may actually be more attuned to the program and get more out of it than students in the MBA program precisely because they have other commitments and can immediately apply what they learn over the weekend to their jobs on Monday.”

Smart Business spoke with Lewin about how UCLA’s EMBA program can benefit successful executives who are looking to do even more.

How do students’ experiences in the work world impact performance in the program?

The students’ experience works very well for certain courses. Students are able to interpret and reinterpret that experience in the context of the concepts that are provided to them. Thus, they have a strong preference for ideas that can potentially be translated into practice.

Because we have one section of students entering the program annually — this year the number was 73 — and they take their core courses in one section, they become closely bonded. That experience works well, too, because strong bonds make them more willing to critique each other’s work and treat themselves as a learning community, learning from each other as well as from the faculty.

The courses are highly demanding and students have to fit the demands of the program into the demands of their work and home lives. But that allows them to take what they are learning and have the opportunity to apply that learning quickly, whereas students in the MBA program have to wait until they graduate, get employed and advance in the workplace.

How do students put that knowledge to work in other ways outside the classroom?

In the second year of the program, students self-select small groups to conduct a Strategic Management Research (SMR) project. For two quarters, each group has a client company (or non-profit organization), a faculty adviser and a specific issue or problem to work on. At the conclusion of the SMR, each group must deliver a written report and an oral presentation to the client. These groups often become tighter than the assigned study groups they worked in previously because they are producing deliverables for clients, which can be distributed across the globe. For example, an SMR group recently traveled to Africa to meet with its client organization, and other groups have traveled to Asia, Europe and Latin America for the same purpose.

Because the students have self-selected their groups and are ‘on the hook’ to produce, they typically have a very strong, positive experience. Once in a while, however, and as occurs with groups in any context, an SMR group faces the challenge of learning from a negative experience. For example, a group may lose its main client contact because that individual has left the organization during the project. Occasionally, a client company doesn’t supply the quantity or quality of information required by an SMR group. Also, occasionally, a group may have internal conflicts about its deliverables or its communications processes or a free rider problem. Whenever you have a substantial number of groups working on assignments like the SMR, certain problems will arise, yet students can learn as much or more from these types of conflict as they can from positive experiences; it’s all part of their professional development.

How does the program contribute to the leadership growth of students?

In all of our MBA programs, when students first enter they have an orientation or, in the case of EMBA students, a residential, in which they take a course titled Leadership Foundations. While certain leadership concepts and frameworks are covered, the course is heavily experiential and includes such activities as a survival exercise, a self-assessment, case analyses, a negotiation simulation, an outdoor team building day and study group norm setting. The end-of-course ‘deliverable’ is a Leadership Map in which students state their leadership aspirations, summarize their leadership strengths and limitations, and specify a preliminary leadership development plan for their two-year EMBA program.

In the EMBA program, but not in the MBA or Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) programs, there is a second Leadership Foundations course offered in the latter part of the first year, and a third course offered in the latter part of the second year. In this last course, students produce an additional, final Leadership Map, this one externally oriented. The big challenge here for EMBA students is to specify how they’re going to further enhance their leadership capabilities after they leave the safe harbor of the program. The underlying rationale for this three-course Leadership Foundations sequence is for students to have recurring (if not continuous) leadership capability development — not just leadership knowledge, but also the ability to apply that knowledge. Currently, the Anderson School is considering adopting this course sequence in the MBA and FEMBA programs so that leadership development for students in those programs doesn’t end at the conclusion of their orientation.

David Lewin is the Nell H. Jacoby Chair in Management at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Reach him at (310) 206-7666 or david.lewin@anderson.ucla.edu.

Published in Los Angeles

Dr. Nan Boden was the executive vice president at Myricom, a high-performance computer networking spinoff from Caltech that she helped found. Although she had steadily risen through the company and knew about the technical side of the business, she knew she wasn’t as savvy about the business side.

“I started looking at what I needed to do to become more effective in my role, and I kept thinking, ‘There’s just got to be more leverage from deepening my understanding of the business side,’” says Boden, who now serves as Myricom’s CEO. “So, I started looking at MBA programs. Given my technical background, I knew I wanted the most quantitative program that I could find, but one with a part-time schedule that would allow me to enhance my education while still working full time. UCLA Anderson’s Executive MBA program met all of my requirements, and I knew right away that it was the perfect fit for me.”

Smart Business spoke with Boden about how UCLA Anderson’s EMBA program can take your career to the next level and beyond.

How did what you learned in the program translate into your day job?

For me, the relevance of the EMBA program was instantaneous. The program made an enormous difference not only in that I gained training in many new functional areas, but I also gained broad new frameworks for analyzing problems and developing solutions. Learning from my classmates, who each typically had five to 10 years of work experience in a wide variety of fields, was also an integral part of the program’s value. During our class weekends, I felt that I soaked in knowledge, and then back in the office Monday morning, I’d see immediately how that knowledge could be applied. I use what I learned at Anderson every single day at work.

The EMBA program content was delivered very efficiently. The structure of the EMBA program meant that I could attain my MBA degree and simultaneously apply that knowledge in my full-time job. The EMBA program gave me the ability to perform my present job at a much higher level, and also improve my understanding of the larger business picture of our industry.

How did the newfound knowledge impact your business and employees?

At my company, we had long struggled with certain business problems that seemed to never get solved. After I started bringing back knowledge I’d gained in the Anderson EMBA program, our employees began to see that some of these problems could actually be fixed! We could then effectively move on to tackle new challenges and objectives.

How does the classroom experience differ from taking courses online?

At the outset of the EMBA program, if I had been given the option to do an online-only program, I would have taken it — and, it would have been the biggest mistake I could have made. I would have missed a great deal of what I ultimately got out of the program. Through the classroom and study group learning, I honed my skills for working with teams of different-thinking individuals. Before the EMBA program, I was accustomed to working with technical people who think much the same way as I. However, when I first found myself in a group with strong strategic marketing people, strong finance people, etc., I found that they don’t think about problems the same way. I then saw the power of marshaling the talents of a diverse team to produce results that a single person could not readily achieve.

How does working in study groups enhance the EMBA experience?

The effectiveness of the study group model was a big surprise to me. The problems one works on in business school are different from math problems. There’s not one answer that everyone is going to agree on; there are many different ways to tackle a business problem. Study groups were an effective vehicle to tackle more complex real-world problems by leveraging the different talents and viewpoints of each member. It was an important part of business school to learn different functional techniques, but also to learn how to apply those techniques within a group of differently motivated, resourced and skilled people. I may well have gained the most lasting and relevant skills from my study group experience. Intense academic coursework combined with study groups was a powerful combination.

How did the program change the way you think?

Throughout my education and career, I have approached problems from a technical person’s viewpoint. If a problem is well-formed, then it should have a function, inputs and outputs, and the answer should always be the same. From my first days in the Anderson EMBA program, I saw example after example where there could be many solutions to a business problem that were ‘correct,’ as they had been analytically thought through and the logical arguments for the solution hung together.

For instance, if a company is preparing to go to market with a new product, what should be the marketing strategy based on who are the customers, competition, etc. The problem analysis and the solutions were developed using thinking frameworks, not using formulas. I had always thought that if there weren’t a formula, then there must not be substance. At Anderson, I learned that one can get so much further by taking a framework and using it to think through the problem elements. Applying frameworks to real world problems has also greatly improved the efficiency of our strategic planning within my company.

Nan Boden is CEO of Myricom. Reach her at (626) 821-5555 or nan.boden@myricom.com.

Published in Los Angeles
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