‘A Gigantic Wave’: European EMBA Programs Embrace Era Of Change

The drive toward the “cutting edge” is not restricted to schools with EMBA programs. At London School of Economics, the shift in executive education students’ expectations was noticed by faculty years ago, and the response is a new program aimed at answering student needs. LSE’s Executive Global Masters in Management program is a 17-month modular course designed to counter the wealth of EMBAs available in London and elsewhere in Europe and provide a more academically rigorous approach to management education.

The program is for those looking to make the “triple jump” of industry, role, and location; it’s for those interested in entrepreneurship, too, and exploring new opportunities in new, emerging industries. At least half of executive students at LSE say they are interested in going into business for themselves, either straightaway or in the longer term, says Saul Estrin, LSE professor of management and director of the EGMiM in LSE’s Department of Management.

“That puts pressure on the curriculum and what we have to deliver to them,” Estrin tells Poets&Quants. “My impression is not that people leave their jobs and then switch into entrepreneurship the day they leave. I think the way it goes is, they are attracted to this type of degree because they are more and more interested in this notion — and then they learn more and more about how to do it and what’s involved in it, and they build a different set of networks to the set of networks that they had previously. And then at some point many of them do it.”


Saul Estrin, LSE’s director of the executive global master’s in management

Despite the lack of an EMBA (or MBA), LSE is no stranger to elite management education. A member of the TRIUM partnership, the school has long offered an array of management MSc programs, including highly regarded degrees in marketing, strategy, and economics. Its newest offerings are in social innovation and entrepreneurship and digital innovation — as well as the EGMiM, which the school dubs its “cutting-edge alternative to an EMBA” designed to “keep pace with today’s fast-changing world.”

The EGMiM was designed with an eye to fill the gaps in management theory left by EMBA curriculums, Estrin says. In short, it is meant to provide a more exploratory learning experience, with core modules typically found on an EMBA taught alongside art and literature, the history of management, psychology, and philosophy. Another key way in which the EGMiM is already proving different from a typical EMBA: Women have enrolled in the program in about the same numbers as men.

“Because of its design and other features, it has a much higher proportion of females than regular EMBAs,” Estrin says. EMBA programs tend to have between 30% and 35% of women; LSE’s program has nearer 50%. “It’s also a bit younger, and slightly more diverse in its appeal.”


The aim of the EGMiM is to create managers who possess both the skills and knowledge to challenge leadership decisions and create change, Estrin says. Call it the “portfolio career” — the idea that professionals are more open to trying a range of new roles throughout their careers, building skills, and accruing knowledge in one industry before taking on a new challenge in another. As a result, he says, they want a management education that enables this level of professional exploration.

“I don’t have the impression that people are coming in because they’ve got a burning idea — they don’t have the concept of what they want to do,” Estrin says. “What they want is to change the lifestyle and the control and the ownership of their lives in the direction that they are taking. And they’re interested in entrepreneurship. I don’t mean that it’s a lifestyle decision, although arguably for some it might be.

“There are lifestyle issues that would lead people to this, but then there are issues related to their career and issues related to the type of impact they want to have. There’s a selection bias related to the sort of students we get versus other schools. The sort of people that are attracted to LSE not only want to do well for themselves, they also want to make a difference in society.”