THE SEARCH FOR AN EMBA AND WHAT I DISCOVERED
I found there was a crucial difference between programs and participants: During an MBA, both the classes you attend and the people you interact with serve mostly a virtual, theoretical, or long-term purpose. There’s no real life application, as the full-time MBA life consists mostly of attending classes, studying cases and – for at least a minority – having drinking contests at the local pub. That’s not to say there’s no merit to that.
But in an Executive MBA program, I discovered, both the classes you get and the people you interact with can have a direct, real life impact on your job. The next day, you might go about a business meeting in a different way. The next month, you might adjust your marketing plan. The next year, you’ll pursue different ways to grow the company. That, in short, is what convinced me that the EMBA is a good investment, even when I came to believe that an MBA is not – not for me at least.
So when Wharton asked me why I want to do an EMBA, this is what I told them:
It feels like the time is right to do an MBA. The reason why I have so drastically changed my assessment now, is thanks to the “E”, in EMBA. It means you study while you execute; you put in practice what you learn. And you get to do so not only after your studies, but while you are studying. That is something our company in general, and I in particular, can benefit a lot from. A thoughtful, academic approach is very welcome in the growth stage the company is going through.
Of course, there are other ways to have continuous learning than doing a $181,000 EMBA. Many companies offer training programs, motivate people to have lunches with colleagues from other departments or companies, or have other educational initiatives. If you are in such a company, you might not need to think of an EMBA. But if you aren’t, like me, attending business school does provide me ample opportunities to learn from academics and fellow students.
Peter Vanham, 28, will start Wharton’s Executive MBA program next May.
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