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Executive Education

Applications to Executive MBA programs are increasing year on year and the trend shows no sign of abating, says Ross Geraghty.

As business education has boomed, a major increase in applications to the relative newcomer to the family, the Executive MBA (EMBA) course, has also seen a dramatic overall rise. According to dedicated Applicant Research by Quacquarelli Symonds ( Applicant Research) applications were up 9% in 2005 and 16% in 2006. Meanwhile the Global Trium EMBA, an alliance of NYU Stern, HEC Paris and the London School of Economics, has seen applications jump by more than 140%.

The effect of this success is a proliferation of EMBAs and competition between schools to offer the best and most cost-efficient courses. In London alone about a dozen schools now offer EMBA programs. Resources such as are dedicated to assisting those seeking such courses to narrow down their options in what could be a crucial career move.

Designed for senior managers or younger executives on fast-track careers, the EMBA provides expertise in the latest management practices vital to a company's success, giving businesses an edge in this world of high competition.

The demographic of applicants to EMBAs generally features a more mature and experienced range of managers. Kirt Wood, of RSM Erasmus University in Holland, adds, "Candidates are still pretty diverse, however the majority of them come from the finance and consulting industries. There is a strong EMBA comeback in those industries following the downturn after 9/11, which is reflected in post MBA hiring and career trends".

Part of the EMBA's success is the customizing of the programs to suit the specific needs of top-level management. Companies are taking a closer partnership in what they want their employees to learn, and business schools are providing elective courses with the expertise and faculty those companies need.

As a result, a larger percentage of EMBA programs are fully or partially funded by a candidate's employers, which helps offset the financial implications of such an undertaking for the individual. Mark Norbury, Director of INSEAD Executive MBA in Paris, says, "The level of corporate sponsorship remains stable at around 55% of overall tuition fees paid, although we are seeing a reduction in 100% corporate sponsorship. Companies are taking a proactive approach to identifying talent, working closely with INSEAD through admissions, program management and career development."

The value is clear to most EMBA graduates. Sam Pickering-Dunn, who completed the London Business School EMBA in 2003, says, "The Executive MBA program opens doors to unlimited opportunities, intellectual stimulation and personal growth. For me, the most powerful and lasting benefit was the opportunity to build an enduring and extensive global network, which has been a critical factor in launching my career.

Also, EMBAs offer far greater flexibility than their typical MBA counterparts. They are generally part-time, taking place in the evenings or at weekends. The course content is customized to suit the needs of participants and the workload can be spread out over a period of two years, rather than the short, sharp shock of a full-time MBA. This is appealing to experienced candidates, many of whom will be advanced in their careers and have families to consider.

However, an EMBA is far from a walk through a summer garden. At around two hours extra work per day, balancing your time is definitely a challenge. Top universities emphasize the importance of the support of family, friends and colleagues as the 'balancing act', during the program, is intensive and requires excellent organization and time-management skills.

For the majority of EMBA participants the intense schedule is just part of the trade-off that sees them able to earn more and move ahead without interrupting their career. Begoña de Ros Raventós says, "In the EMBA Council Survey 2005, 68% of our participants were promoted during the program, and the average salary increased by 36% compared to a benchmark of 21% on typical MBA programs." Other recent studies by the FT showed that those that stayed with their sponsoring companies were earning more than their peers three years after graduation. And with such a high return, the EMBA looks to have a very bright future.

ExecMBA Villages as part of the World MBA Tour in the Fall visit:
Paris - 27 October
Frankfurt - 20 October
London - 13 October
Moscow - 9 October
For more details and registration visit

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