After years of recession, many corporations have cut back on sponsorships of employees wishing to pursue Executive MBA degree programs. In fact, according to EMBAC.org’s article, “2016 Executive MBA Council Survey Results Offers Insights into Future Business Leaders,” a full 41 percent of EMBA students are now self-funded.
Despite that shift in funding, reductions in corporate sponsorships have not affected EMBA attendance. The popularity of the program remains intact because motivated business people aspiring to more challenging positions are choosing to put themselves through graduate school.
Self-funding an EMBA education holds some benefits over relying on an employer. Being free of financial attachments or obligations to employers means an EMBA degree can spark a career change or fuel entrepreneurial ambitions.
Changing Careers During or After an EMBA Program
Traditionally speaking, EMBA degrees were designed to improve seasoned managers’ chances of moving into executive leadership at a company where they already worked. MBA programs, on the other hand, targeted students closer to the beginning of their careers.
“For MBAs, internships are commonplace and are often embedded into the curriculum in one form or another,” writes international journalist R. Kress in “Changing Lanes: Can an Executive MBA Help You Transition to a New Industry?” on IvyExec.com. “These relatively low-risk opportunities provide access and insight into corporations, industries and even careers that can be sampled and assessed. …For EMBAs, there is by and large, no comparable program to give participants a taste of the career they wish to try.”
Without such internship programs, EMBA graduates, many of whom are already seasoned managers, are finding their own resources for new career opportunities.
“Good business schools hire smart and enthusiastic career support staff who are dedicated to helping EMBA students be successful,” business educator Daniel Szpiro explains in his article “EMBA Career Support: 5 Ways to Avoid Disappointment” on LinkedIn. “Don’t let their skills and resources go unused or even underutilized. Everything from help with resume writing, developing interview skills, and understanding how to use your networks for career opportunities is available in good EMBA programs.”
Ultimately, unless they are under contract, students can decide for themselves whether to stay with their current company or seek a new job. Some corporations may acquiesce to employees attending an EMBA program as a way to retain their services, but do not have any real intent of allowing them to progress afterward. Other companies simply may not be able to promote all of their EMBA employees to C-suite positions.
These EMBA graduates may decide to move on to a new company. According to business blogger Ann Graham’s TopMBA.com article, “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Career Progression after Your EMBA,” reasons for seeking a new job or a career that will make better use of an EMBA degree can include:
• A salary increase. An EMBA degree gives job seekers more bargaining power when negotiating salary with a potential new employer.• Greater advancement. Graduates of EMBA programs are a highly ambitious lot. Seeking out new job opportunities can make it possible for one to better target their career progression by going for the exact positions and job titles they are looking for.• A fresh start. EMBA degree holders who switch jobs and/or careers have the opportunity to chase their new aspirations and use their new education. Many aspiring C-suite leaders like to take control of their own career and keep moving upwards.
Students should exercise caution, however, and research and investigate all options before leaving their current position and employer.
Taking the Entrepreneurial Route with an EMBA
EMBA degree programs, once seen as an express pathway to the C-suite, now also serve as a powerful stepping-stone for established professionals who want to change careers or start their own businesses.
“The freedom of self-financing, combined with the implementation of the latest networking and teaching technology, has meant the top programs increasingly are attracting students from outside their traditional catchment area,” says financial journalist Della Bradshaw in “EMBA No Longer Just a Corporate Degree as Entrepreneurs Sign Up” on the Financial Times website.
Tech.eu lists a number of advantages that EMBA training holds for entrepreneurs, including:
• Immersion into a cohort of peers with diverse business backgrounds• Opportunities to study and think about business through a broader, more strategic lens• Faculty with esteemed academic credentials and the rich, real-world experience of fellow students• Interactions with fellow students that can lead to other tangible benefits, such as meeting future co-founders and advisors• Global insights into specific markets and industries
Such advantages can be invaluable to entrepreneurs seeking a working knowledge of executive leadership and general management before embarking on a new venture.
Washington State University’s EMBA Degree Program
Washington State University’s Carson College of Business offers an online Executive MBA program that can provide students with the knowledge, skills, and training to rise to the top of their chosen industry as strong, influential business leaders.
The program also provides tools useful for students preparing to change careers or start their own business. Online coursework includes managerial leadership and productivity, organizational design, and management of innovation. Contact Washington State for more information.