If you’re ambitious, your career is on the upswing, and you’re looking to turbo-charge your resume, an Executive MBA (EMBA) is something you might want to consider.
Unlike a full-time MBA, where the students are younger and relatively inexperienced, an EMBA program is designed for professionals who have at least six to seven years’ work experience.
Best of all, it’s a flexible program that allows you to keep your full-time job while earning your degree.
In spite of its nomenclature, an EMBA is not aimed at ‘executives’ (i.e. the privileged few perched at the top echelons of the company) at all and is apt for anyone identified by either themselves or their organisation as a future leader.
The degree is aimed at anyone who is driven, keen to develop their managerial acumen, and wants to deepen their knowledge of business.
With a degree like this under your belt, you can go from being, say, a team leader, to someone involved in strategic thinking, leading large initiatives in your firm and becoming a key driver of business at work.
Clearly, the degree paves the way for a huge shift in role in the corporate world.
Typically seen as a career booster by professionals in finance, accounting, marketing and consulting, an EMBA is now sought by candidates looking to up their game in all sorts of domains.
And why look only at the classic corporate paradigm. Many at this stage in their careers plan to turn entrepreneurs, and an EMBA is their ticket to running their own business.
But be warned. Earning an EMBA comes at great personal and financial cost. It means juggling a full-time job with a rigorous academic program and, for many, family responsibilities as well.
Simply put, it means making many big sacrifices. It calls for single-minded determination and tough survival skills.
Also, your self-absorption during the course – the only thing that will see you through – will invariably impact on everyone around you, at home and at work.
In fact, this is a topic discussed prominently at EMBA orientation programs, so make sure you’re up for it before you dive in.
Another reason you want to be absolutely sure you’re making the right choice is the cost of the program – think of it as a six-figure price tag for a potential six-figure salary.
Believe it or not but while the average cost of an EMBA from an average business school is around $75,000-85,000, it costs more than twice that from the top business schools:
|Business School||Duration||EMBA Cost|
|The Wharton School||24 months||$181,500|
|Booth School of Business||21 months||$174,000|
|Columbia University||24 months||$163,940|
|Haas School of Business||19 months||$159,900|
As if that weren’t daunting enough, there’s more bad news – employers are not as generous as they once were when reimbursing the cost of your course.
According to the Executive MBA Council, employers part-sponsored 36 per cent of students and fully reimbursed 25 per cent, in 2014. And there are only 53 percent of programs offering scholarships and fellowships.
Still, the EMBA is a very popular business degree but it also means students/professionals are racking up big loans and debts.
So, in real terms, what is the payoff? With an EMBA under your belt, you can hone your business, managerial and leadership skills; you are likely to skip a few rungs on the corporate ladder on the way up; you will likely get promoted more easily; you will probably be assigned more responsibilities at work, and you can more easily switch career tracks for better prospects.
Bottom line: When signing up for an EMBA, think ‘Return on Investment’ or ‘ROI’.
First, let’s discuss the most tangible payoff – remuneration. Here are the numbers. Wharton and Columbia claim their EMBA programs get students a 60-per cent jump in salary while others, such as the Ross School of Business and Stern School of Business, say their degrees result in a 42-per cent and 35-per cent rise in remuneration, respectively.
According to some experts, remuneration for post-EMBA grads rose from $155,848 to $181,965 from 2013 to 2015 – a 17-per cent increase in two years. If this acceleration keeps up, EMBA grads in 2016 can expect to earn $200,000 when they graduate.
Here are some more figures. The Executive MBA Council’s 2014 Student Exit Benchmarking Survey, whose results were released in March 2015, reveals that 53 per cent of graduates received new responsibilities and 38 per cent received promotions while enrolled in the program.
One reason an EMBA scores over a full-time MBA degree is you get the ‘MBA’ tag and all its perks while getting to keep your job.
While some prefer to start over with a new job after a two-year break, to do a more prestigious, full-time MBA, many see a more flexible EMBA program as a way to skirting the issue of job insecurity.
Second, an EMBA could be a valuable bargaining chip even before you get the degree. If your employer values your worth, he or she may up your remuneration anyway, worried you may quit for greener pastures once you get the accreditation.
A more mature way of assessing your value to the company would be to reward you for bringing more to your role due to the enhanced knowledge and perspective.
Third, students in an EMBA class are drawn from diverse industries and have a wealth of experience to contribute to the program.
Therefore, each one contributes to creating a learning environment that encourages growth in every candidate. This can also help you grow your professional network and present some interesting business opportunities as well.
A fourth reason is that you get to apply your classroom learning to your workplace, in real time, which can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. It also adds value to your work, which is something that benefits your employer and team mates.
Since an EMBA inherently implies balancing a rigorous academic program with a job and the rest of your life, consider every possible scenario very carefully before committing to it.
One, an EMBA is bound to impact your work and your colleagues. It will mean taking time off to attend classes and for study leave, which means your boss needs to be willing to accommodate this. It would be a lot easier if your boss has an MBA and thus sees the merit in the degree.
‘Compromise’ and ‘sacrifice’ are going to be your watchwords during the course of your EMBA program. Since time is not expandable, you will not be able to do it all, like you used to.
You may have to give up a few things because you will not be able to execute all your responsibilities and chores to your satisfaction.
Identify areas you can temporarily assign to the backburner, like hobbies, interests and even the gym. Often times, you may not find the time to hang out with friends or take in a movie.
The idea is, alongside work, you need to make your EMBA a focal point.
What about family? Well, did you know that MBA courses, full-time and otherwise, are tagged as ‘divorce degrees’? Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Since the EMBA is even more demanding on one’s time than a full-time course, you should discuss this with your spouse or partner lest it have an irrevocable impact your marriage or relationship.
Your academic rigour will require all resources to be diverted to you, placing a huge burden on family for the duration of the course. This is even more relevant of you are raising a family or plan to raise one, the latter being a strict no-no for the duration of the program.
An EMBA is definitely not for the faint-hearted. While the gains are obvious, make sure the program doesn’t cost you more than you bargained for.
Read these related posts:
– Best Executive MBA Programs in the world
– Executive MBA: How Priti got into Columbia with a 570 GMAT score
– Executive MBA in UK: Tanvi’s LBS experience
– 7 Reasons when an MBA is not worth it
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,