How do you convince your employer to pay for some, it not all, of the cost of an Executive MBA program?
Companies that foot the bill are becoming far and few between. More EMBA students are paying their own way than ever before. Forty-one (41) percent of EMBA students were fully self-funded in 2013, up from 34 percent in 2009. Only 24 percent of students received full financial sponsorship.
So making the case for full corporate sponsorship may not be easy. But several business schools offer some very good advice. Wharton, for example, asked one of its professors, Richard Shell, an expert on negotiations, to weigh in on how he would frame the case for sponsorship. Here’s what he had to say:
It is important to be confident, present relevant data to back-up your argument, and be prepared to negotiate. Start with your best and closest mentor relationship at work and then move toward your decision maker, step by step, using each person along the way to endorse the idea to the next one in line. The more momentum you build for an idea before putting it to the top people, the more likely it is to fly.
Show 100% commitment to returning to the firm — the greatest fear that companies have is losing you once you get your MBA. Find ways to make this commitment credible.
Set concrete goals
For each interview you have to sell the idea — goals include:
- Educating your target person on the value of an EMBA using success stories from your own or other firms,
- Getting your target person to help you understand the decision making process for this sort of idea,
- Brainstorming how your job can be re-designed at no cost to the firm to make attendance at the program feasible,
- Obtaining an endorsement from this person for the idea,
- Getting this person to provide an introduction to the next person you need to speak with,
- Obtaining the resources and buy-in from the key decision maker.
Speak to people in terms of their interests and needs, not your own
People generally care more about their own problems than they do yours. Develop an ROI case based on some of the firm’s most challenging issues.
Once a favorable decision has been made, follow up to assure that everything is done to actually close the sale. Don’t assume other people are as interested in this happening as you are!
Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has a joint program with York University’s Schulich School of Business and they do one of the best jobs we have ever seen of presenting reasons why your employer should sponsor you. They cite 11 reasons:
Sponsorship should be viewed as part of a career development process, not just as paying for you to take a course. Candidates for this program are sponsored because of their outstanding promise and leadership potential. The program is therefore an investment both in you and in the future of your company.
The curriculum will provide you with the latest thinking in all areas of management, and will include a critical emphasis on strategic thinking and global leadership. As a result, it will update and expand your knowledge base and prepare you to deal with the major management challenges facing you and your employer.
The program’s schedule will permit you to apply your new knowledge immediately, as you will be returning to work between the alternating weekend sessions. This also means that there will be no interruption of your career progression.
There will be many opportunities to apply the course work under the direction of the Kellogg and Schulich professors during the program. Many of these projects can be done for your employer, who will benefit both from the project work itself and from the feedback that the professors will provide.
Networking with your fellow participants during the program and afterwards as alumni will provide you with additional sources of ideas, benchmarks and advice on issues facing you at work.
You will develop a variety of management skills to complement the knowledge gained through course content. These include time management, quantitative analysis, computer skills, team skills and communication skills.
You will develop a global perspective through the Kellogg international Live-in Weeks, the Kellogg elective courses and the Global Elective courses.
Employers who develop high potential employees through EMBA programs are more likely to be viewed as being among the “best places to work”. These employers are more likely to attract and retain employees with exceptional promise, particularly in today’s highly competitive business environment.
Most of the tuition fee is tax deductible for your employer, so the real cost is much less than it first appears.
Your interaction with Kellogg faculty throughout the program and with EMBA participants will give you a network of contacts, as well as valuable insights into doing business in the US — by far Canada’s largest trading partner. You will also become part of a global network of Executive MBA graduates of both York and Northwestern Universities.
You will be developing a relationship with the Kellogg School of Management and the Schulich School of Business for your own future professional development needs, as well as those of your colleagues who may follow in your footsteps and take the program at a later point.
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