The traditional Executive MBA is widely acknowledged as a massive investment, both of time and money. Most EMBAs are studied over the course of two or more years, in evenings and weekends, in a low-intensity format whose costs are covered by the students’ employers.
However, executive education needs are changing. Customization of courses to individual students’ needs is key and learning providers must constantly innovate to keep students engaged.
The new Global EMBA at NEOMA Business School is an example of what this future might look like.
Students on the Global EMBA can pick from three start dates corresponding to three different paces of learning: either the part-time 10- or 15-month tracks or the high-intensity Full & Flex option, with the possibility of breaking the course down into smaller certificates that can be completed over a period of years.
For students who pick the Full & Flex option, the result is a course that more closely resembles the higher pace of learning of a full-time MBA.
In addition to two months of intensive teaching, students take part in International Learning Experiences (ILEs), which cover trending business topics in the regions that they’re most relevant—for instance fintech in New York, and corporate social responsibility in Bangalore.
High intensity, high engagement
This level of intensity might seem intimidating at first, but current student Patrick Huibers says that it’s making his learning experience more fruitful.
Patrick is a customer retention and remarketing manager at Honda Financial services in Ottawa, Canada, and he joined the Global EMBA program in pursuit of the tools he needed to succeed at a higher level in business.
“I’ve been at Honda for almost 13 years now, and it’s a great company, and I’m very happy working there, but I wanted new tools to handle new problems,” he says.
“The industry that I’m in is changing very quickly in terms of electrification and how we consume cars—there’s a new set of challenges coming into the future, and we need new ways to approach these new problems.”
His quest for the new led him to the Global EMBA at NEOMA Business School, and although he was initially nervous that he wouldn’t have the stamina to make it through the long days on the course, Patrick says that staying switched on throughout the learning periods wasn’t a problem.
For instance, during the recent ILE in London, which saw students learn about innovation from international experts at Imperial College, Patrick was impressed by how engaged the cohort were, compared to other executive learning experiences he’d had previously.
“When you’re in training and you have to be [in the classroom] for work, that engagement’s not there,” he explains. “One thing that caught me off-guard was the group participation and the quality of the group dialogue.
“Everyone’s very engaged,” he says. “The teachers are very interesting, and I was able to stay focused.”
Flexibility for families
Patrick believes that this is largely due to the course’s approximation of a full-time learning environment that nonetheless fits around an executive schedule. It provides the depth of learning of a full-time MBA with the flexibility and complexity of the executive option—and, crucially, in a much shorter time-frame.
“I have a seven-year-old and a four-year-old, and they take up a lot of attention,” Patrick adds. “When you’re doing a course part-time, you still have all of that, but you’re trying to squeeze in school on the side.
“Whereas, in theory, I’m going to be taken out of that environment—I’ll be fully focused on the EMBA and give myself fully to it. That really spoke to me.”
This deep-dive approach means that everyone involved is fully focused on the task at hand, because they’re not having to ration their energy and attention across lots of areas of their life at once.
The experience in London has whet Patrick’s appetite for the rest of the course, and he would recommend that others follow his lead to kick-start their own executive education.
“The Global EMBA at NEOMA Business School is suited to people looking to get out of their comfort zone,” he says. “You’re in a completely different city with less distractions, you can meet new people and really engage with the material.
“If you’re really busy with work and you’re always dialled in with your phone, this allows you to get away from it—recharge, refocus, learn something new, and come back with a new perspective.”