EMBA programs are becoming increasingly international – clearly without weeks of residence on at least two continents absolutely nothing is possible any more.
As soon as you are newly appointed to a position in management, should you then give up your job to return to the University and pursue further qualifications? Many ambitious managers respond to this question with a No. They want to do both: work and study. This is possible in the so-called EMBA programs (Executive Master of Business Administration). In Germany alone there are dozens of these programs. Many of these degree programs, which run parallel to professional activity, impart knowledge of not only business management, but also of intercultural issues.
The degree candidates with professional experience are expected to complete part of these studies abroad. ‘Today aspiring managers are well advised to incorporate stays abroad in their course of studies,’ warns Andreas Pinkwart, President of the Handelshochschule Leipzig (HHL). Since: ‘Internationality is not demonstrated by listening to a couple of foreign visiting professors at the home campus. Intercultural abilities are required, and these abilities must be acquired by the individuals themselves in the world at large.’
Managers increasingly want to work and continue their education
EMBA programs are tailored to a narrow circle of participants. The programs require, in addition to a diploma – or a B.A. – without regard to the subject in which this degree was earned – five to seven, and occasionally even ten, years of professional career. The applicant must have spent some of these years in a management position. The HHL requires three years in a leadership position, and whoever thinks that he can fudge this is exposed without mercy. Pinkwart threatens: ‘The selection committee checks this based on the CV and the letters of recommendation.’
Managers take great pleasure in this sort of on-going academic education, since they can continue to learn new things while at the same time tinkering with their careers. The hours in which the classes are held differ from university to university. In some part-time programs, the lectures take place after the end of the working day or on the weekend. Others concentrate the classes in blocks of seminars lasting for a few weeks. The total duration of an executive MBA degree is on average 18 months, with some programs setting exams already after 15 months, while others do so only after 22 months. Upon passing the exams, the participants acquire a certificate that asserts that they have the right stuff for challenging management assignments.
The double load during the degree program is difficult. Harmonizing professional life, continuing education and private life requires stamina and organizational ability. It is no wonder that headhunters place a high value on the battle-tried holders of the EMBA title. This is evident in the increasing willingness to share the tuition costs or even to pay them entirely. Nevertheless many employers attach a condition to the financial aid: the employee must commit to remain in the company various years after receiving the degree.
Those matriculating in an EMBA program are mostly in their early to late thirties. The hope for a brilliant career in a company different from the one in which they are currently employed is the motivation mostly often cited. Some participants want to get fit for a specific position in their company. And still others would like to work abroad after graduation or in a position with an international focus. The programs take into account this wish with the systematic development of their foreign modules. The respectably accredited Executive MBA program at the Gisma Business School in Hannover with the name ‘The International Master’s in Management Program (IMM)’ include two-week stays at each of the following: Purdue University in the USA, the Tias Nimbas Business School in the Netherlands, the CEU Business School in Hungary, and also at two Universities in China and in Mexico. Thus the students go around the whole planet once, and they can make comparisons and obtain an idea on-site of the conditions.
While most Executive MBA programs seek a connection to the USA or Asia, the HHL focuses its program on Southern Europe and the emerging nations of Brazil, China and India. Together with the Spanish Business School EADA, in Leipzig they have developed an 18-month EMBA program that not only allows participants to study in Leipzig and Barcelona, but also takes them to Asia and South America. Participants may choose among one week of studies in China, India and Brazil, two of which are obligatory. Moreover, the classes of 20 participants each are internationally mixed, since it is possible to matriculate not only in Leipzig but also in the Spanish partner school.
What is taught during the stays abroad differs widely from school to school. There are EMBA courses in which the German guests simply take part a week at a time in the lectures of the native students. Other schools make a greater effort and develop special programs in order to convey the special characteristics of each land to the foreign students. ‘In our program that takes one and a half years,’ says Pintwart, the President of the HHL. In India the Germans study the module ‘Knowledge Management’ and ‘Supply Chain’, and they attend lectures on the topic of ‘Doing Business in India’. In China, the curriculum includes geopolitics and ‘Doing Business in China.’ In Brazil, the subjects are Entrepreneurship, Corporate Governance plus ‘Doing Business in Brazil’. Don’t worry, however: there is still enough material for the degree program in Germany.
Published at Süddeutsche Zeitung
11th October 2012