A trio of business education experts took questions from FT readers curious about the Executive MBA. Here are some recapped parts of that online panel Q&A, which includes the FT’s biz ed editor, the dean of IESE in Spain, and the dean of Duke’s Fuqua.
Why not open enrollment courses over more expensive EMBA?
Open enrollment programs for executives serve as gap fillers in functional or sector expertise, or as aids to managers with a shift in responsibility, according to Blair Sheppard, the dean of Fuqua. “If someone had more than one such need, an EMBA is a better bet.” EMBA programs, on the other hand, offer a deeper understanding of the nature of markets, firms, work, people as team members/leaders, etc.
Which courses are in demand?
Executives want courses in exactly what you’d expect them to: General management and leadership, the impact of globalization and the effects of new technologies and social media, according to Jordi Canals, dean of IESE.
Major shifts in the geo-politics and the economy has created a need for certain courses, according to Fuqua’s Dean Sheppard. “People need to understand how technology is rearranging classic marketing and operational strategies. People need to understand the political economic and cultural aspects of other regions. People need to understand how critical issues such as sustainable energy supply, health risk or environment affect business. Also, most need a primer in the role of regulation, we forgot its function for a while.”
Why not get in-house training at a management consultancy instead of going to business school?
Business schools succeed at presenting the “deep logic,” but can miss when trying to graft those big picture theories onto specific circumstances or industries, says Sheppard. Consulting firms, on the other hand, tend only to teach whatever is immediately necessary to that particular job. There are advantages to working as an analyst or associate at a consultancy, though: The variety of firms first-years get to experience, allows them to learn “critical contextual variation” over a range of industries. They can see what works and what doesn’t. Also, consultants learn a mode of problem solving that their firm has used and found useful.
How do you avoid choosing a bad program?
Talk to people who took the course, ask for references, input, advice.
Ask the school to show you past feedback from students.