Today’s business world needs not just managers or leaders, but visionaries or, even better, messiahs.
Corporate groups are juggling challenges including market volatility, socioeconomic changes, and disruptive innovation, and it takes supermen and superwomen at the helm to draw up strategies for global success.
Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program (AMP) ventures to further hone the skills of top-hat business leaders and bless them with even wider professional perspectives.
The program draws seasoned professionals like Terri Fujii (pictured), who heads the Operations in Japan for a major Pharma company. In an intense 7-week period, participants hope to gain advanced business skills that help them take their already successful careers to the next level.
Each AMP at HBS creates a class of elite and proven business leaders who are just one or two steps away from the pinnacle of management hierarchy. HBS says that the ideal candidates are top-level executives who have been assigned major roles in their organizations’ script for success. They may be senior members of their operating group, heads of departments, members of executive committees, or heads of major business units with professional careers of 20 to 25 years. Typically, their organizations record annual revenues of upwards of $250 million.
The AMP, which was introduced in 1945 and has benefited 20,000 top executives already, provides opportunities for intensive collaborations with peers from various industrial sectors and expert faculty of the HBS. One-on-one coaching sessions, leadership and personality assessment, and talks by distinguished guest speakers are highlights. Each week’s modules are built upon and synchronized at the end of the course to see how concepts interconnect. A busy day’s program may include two or three case studies with the CEO on hand to illustrate the business situations.
The AMP helps participants deepen their understanding of financial reporting, decision-making related to capital investments, and performance-driving. Regional trends and trajectories of growth, development, and government policies are studied. The AMP enables participants to learn to build on their organizations’ competitive advantages and to draw the best effort from employees by resolving operational issues.
The program facilitates a toning up of each individual’s negotiation skills and his or her ability to address issues faced by general managers lower down in the hierarchy. Mastering the essentials of corporate financial management for building, measuring, and maintaining value in organizations is an important program topic.
AMP participants become HBS alumni on completion of the program and thereby gain access to thousands of senior management professionals across all industry sectors and continents.
The program is conducted in an inspiring learning and living environment at Tata Hall, a seven-story building on the HBS campus that offers a cinematic view of the Charles River (the building was constructed with a gift from Ratan N. Tata, AMP, 1975). Participants become members of one of the living groups, each group consisting of eight bedrooms with private bath, personal computers, and IPTV. A common living area facilitates sustained quality interaction among members of each living group.
At the end of the program, participants will have acquired the knowledge and skills that are useful not only to their organizations but also for their individual careers and personal growth. They will be ready to take on more complex and senior roles in their organizations, and be able to focus more effectively on evolving strategy, securing financing, and identifying competitive strengths and weaknesses of their organizations.
The fee for the seven-week Harvard AMP is about $80,000. It includes tuition, books, case materials, accommodation, and most meals.
The Faculty Chair is Prof. Ranjay Gulati, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a Master’s in Management from Sloan, and two Bachelor’s degrees, in Computer Science from Washington State University and in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi.
Here’s a look at how the AMP is different from other executive education programs at Harvard Business School — Owner/President Management (OPM), General Management Program (GMP), and Program for Leadership Development (PLD).
Participants: The AMP is a program for senior executives just below the C-suite with 20-25 years’ experience, from organizations with annual sales revenue of $250 million or more. The OPM is for presidents and managing directors from companies with sales revenue in excess of $10 million, according to an HBS website page giving a comparison of the programs (see the link in “Resources” below). The GMP is meant for executives with recently acquired management responsibilities with 15 to 20 years of work experience from organizations with sales revenue of $10 million or more, and the PLD is for managers identified as having good potential with 10 years or more work experience from companies with annual revenue of $75 million or more.
Duration: The OPM is conducted in three three-week sessions over three years, while GMP’s five modules, each of three-to four-week duration, include three off-campus and two on-campus modules, and PLD’s four modules, of two weeks ach, include two off-campus and two on-campus modules.
Eligibility: Except PLD, all other programs require company sponsorship. Candidates need to be full-time employees of the sponsor and agree to return to management roles in their organizations after the program.
The AMP or similar multiweek general-management programs offered by other prestigious schools cannot be compared with the executive MBA (EMBA). AMP participants are topline executives who don’t need an additional degree to get ahead. EMBA participants, on the other hand, have around eight to ten years of management experience in a career of about 13 to 15 years.
AMP participants are all sponsored by their companies and they return to their posts after the program. In contrast, one-third of EMBA students pay their own fees and, besides adding value to their current organizations, also hope to improve their personal skills-set for a gearshift in their careers—better pay and position in their companies or better jobs in other companies. The rest of the EMBA students may be sponsored by their companies who may fully or partly reimburse the fees.
A major difference between the AMP and the EMBA in curriculum is that accounting and finance are not part of the AMP but they may be included in the EMBA program. However, the AMP might feature higher-level discussions on topics such as financial reporting and investment decision making.
Experiences shared by Harvard AMP alumni can give you insights that the official site doesn’t provide.
In a very readable blog, an Indian participant at the AMP narrates the day-to-day experience through the entire program. It shows how the AMP is both a professional and a personal journey. Participants learn from expert teachers and also get opportunities to mingle closely with an interesting group. Another blog, by an AMP participant from Philippines, also shares a picturesque day-by-day account of the AMP experience.
A Harvard MBA student writes on Quora that the primary benefits of the program are that it gives the participant access to a wide range of quality professionals from across many industries and that it broadens perspective as two or three case studies are discussed every day. A few senior executives without an MBA from a topnotch school attend the program with a clever objective: the HBS brand name on their profiles.
However, the cost-benefit question is obviously raised. One member of an online forum asks whether the advantages of attending the AMP reflect in an increase in salary earnings that would help the participant earn back the $80,000 spent on the course. Aren’t there other more cost-effective solutions to broaden one’s perspective and improve opportunities for networking?
Other who have attended the AMP point out that there is also some personal sacrifice, or commitment, involved, as the participant would need to be away from work and family for seven weeks. It is not a lot of time to be away, and one can take a warm welcome from the family for granted, but “re-entry” at the office can be a difficult experience at least for a few days.
AMP participants at HBS and other reputed b-schools aver that the program can be a transformative experience, both professionally and personally. They say that not only does the AMP improve the participant’s skill set, it also expands one’s mind and thought process.
The other question to think about is why you don’t find many participants to such programs giving it a thumbs down. Does it mean that every single candidate from the 20,000 strong alumni list found it supremely satisfying in every respect? Probably not. Are such short-duration programs more impactful than the regular full-time courses? Tough to believe so.
All we can guess is that anyone who has spent so much to gain the knowledge, experience and yes, the elite Harvard alumni status would want to gain the maximum mileage from their investment. Since it’s a sunk cost now, there isn’t much to gain by voicing their dissent about such courses. There’s too much at stake for them.
So it’s a call that you will have to take based on the value you see in the program and how you plan to get your return on investment.
Read these related posts:
– Harvard HBX CORe Review | Worth it or not
– Harvard online certificate courses
– Company-sponsored MBA: Pros and cons
Resources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 | Image credit: Harvard AMP