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EdTech: New Executive MBA Is Delivered Almost Entirely Online

Italian school’s International Flex EMBA welcomed its first cohort in October 2016

Thu Mar 23 2017

Javier Macedo is often on the move. As a finance officer for a leading environmental nonprofit, he travels extensively, working internationally on projects across South and Central America.

Last year, he decided to bolster his business knowledge with an Executive MBA. But his busy lifestyle meant he wasn’t well-suited to a classroom-based program.

Instead, Javier joined the very first intake of MIP Politecnico di Milano’s new International Flex EMBA (i-Flex), an 18-month Executive MBA program delivered almost entirely online.

“The program stood out because of its flexibility, the prestige of MIP, and the international network on offer,” says Javier, who started the program in October 2016. “Already, I can tell that it’s helping me improve as a professional, and helping me interact better with different personalities.”

MIP’s International Flex EMBA is aimed at experienced executives who want to combine international study with full-time work. 90% of the program is delivered online.

Developed in partnership with Microsoft, an immersive online learning environment brings students and professors together, using the same tools they use in their day-to-day work – like Skype for Business for interactive live sessions, Outlook for email, Yammer for social networking. There’s even an app, so students can access lessons through any device.

When International Flex EMBA students graduate, they receive the same degree certificate as students on the classroom-based course. 35 students based in 19 different countries make up the program’s first intake. Around 40% are international. 50% are women.

Riccardo Mangiaracina, the program’s director, has just started the marketing for the next intake in October.

“What we’re looking for is motivated people,” he says. “This is a real EMBA, no matter if the lessons are given through the smart-learning platform. You must be convinced about the program and the path you are starting, because it’s going to be tough!”

The International Flex EMBA is taught entirely in English and costs €30,000 ($32,000). Candidates require at least three years of work experience. Among the current students on the program are a couple – a husband and wife with a baby - from Ukraine.

“Any other format wouldn’t fit their needs,” Riccardo explains. “We live in a fast-paced world with tough schedules and lots of pressure. For many people, a flexible format is the only way to improve their education.

“Our students have very different backgrounds,” he continues. “We have engineers, psychologists; everything. We can provide students with a valuable network.”

Two face-to-face international weeks – in Milan and Buenos Aires in Argentina - are incorporated within the program. There are also optional international trips to China and San Francisco’s Silicon Valley.

MIP’s partnership with WOBI – the World of Business Ideas – means EMBA students have access to teachings from thousands of speakers in the WOBI network online, like Richard Branson, Steve Wozniak, and Francis Ford Coppola. Students can also attend a WOBI World Business Forum and experience inspirational speeches first-hand.

The EMBA’s curriculum touches on aspects of artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Riccardo thinks these cutting-edge technologies could be used in the delivery of the MBA in the future. For now, the school is constantly developing the program based on students’ feedback.

“We need to provide students with the best possible channels to interact with professors online,” he says. “We have to fine-tune, and keep increasing the usability of our platform for our students that are living it. We never stop improving.”

Javier is now five months in to his EMBA. He has 15 years’ experience in finance and accounting; 10 of those spent working for EY in his native Peru. With the International Flex EMBA, he wants to take his career to the next level.

“Five years from now, I can see myself as a top executive, maybe even running my own business,” he says. “The International Flex EMBA will help define my future.”