Cornell-Queen’s Novel EMBA Program

Our average age is about 38 years old. I like it to be as high as possible only because I believe that’s what the students expect. They want to make sure that everyone has sufficient experience to really be able to contribute to the conversation. In the EMBA world, you have a 20-year span – so we have people in their early 30s and people in their mid-to-late 50s. You only get a problem if there’s someone in the program who students don’t feel is adding value, and we do everything we can to minimize that. That’s the only time there’s really an issue.

We also go about admissions in a very different way in the executive program.  It’s consultative. For example, if someone gave me their resume and wasn’t exactly a good candidate, I would tell them that they’re not a good fit or it’s too early in their career. We wouldn’t do that if we were only concerned about maximizing acceptance rates. That’s not really how we operate, and I don’t think that’s a good way to do it.

The program launched two new boardroom sites in Bogotá, Colombia, and Monterrey, Mexico, in 2012.  Could you explain why these locations were chosen?

We’re always endeavoring to expand the experience for the students and to add additional perspectives. So we went to Bogotá, Colombia, and we went to Monterrey, Mexico, and that’s been really successful. I’m really impressed when I go to those two cities at the level of the professionals who are applying to the program. In Bogotá and in Mexico they’re looking to internationalize their careers.  Mexico is kind of an obvious choice because we now have Canada, the United States and Mexico, so we essentially have a NAFTA or North American program.  So I think it makes a lot of sense and adds value.

Bogotá was our first foray into South America, and I’ll tell you, the quality of the people who apply to the program is extraordinary. Colombia is a country that’s really on the cusp of great economic things.  There’s a lot of economic growth and a lot of professionals who are really doing great things with their careers.  For them an MBA that is international in scope is a great boon, and not only the degrees, but also the ability to learn and study with people from a broad variety of places.

There are also practical issues. We have very significant and influential alumni in those countries who were saying we’d like you to be involved in our countries, so we started there. The role of those alumni in helping us has been extraordinary. There are practical issues, there are macroeconomic issues, so some of it’s just serendipitous.

Any final thoughts? 

Cornell University and Queen’s University are two of the top universities in the world. We give a Cornell degree and a Queen’s degree, and all the requirements and responsibilities are the same.  So if you don’t doubt the quality of Cornell University, then you shouldn’t doubt the quality of this program because students who earn this degree fulfill all the same requirements at the same rigor as the other Cornell MBA programs. All of them are equally valid pathways to the Cornell MBA – people choose the Cornell-Queen’s program because they’d like to study at Cornell and Queen’s from their home cities.


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