Prepare your case
If you want to enhance your leadership and management skills, you might be thinking of pursuing Executive MBA (EMBA) studies. But how do you convince your employer of the benefits of an EMBA and gain their support?
“I’ve worked at Johnson & Johnson for 12 years and had no intention of leaving, because I love my job. This programme was a way to get more external experience and exposure to different perspectives,” says Laura River, senior director at Johnson & Johnson. She chose an EMBA programme at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (US) to accelerate her career at J&J.
If you want to make your employer your biggest ally in the pursuit of your professional goals, you need to prepare your case. Show them what they and the company will gain from investing, fully or partially, in your personal and professional development.
The benefits of an EMBA for the individual concerned are often talked about, but others will also reap the rewards of this investment. Here are the top ways in which your executive studies can benefit your employer.
Bring next-level leadership and strategic perspective
One of the main objectives of an Executive MBA is to elevate your leadership skills through business coaching, leadership training and other methods. You will learn more about your managerial style and strengthen key soft skills that will boost your performance even during your studies.
Some of the main skills associated with an EMBA include:
Strategic perspective – the EMBA will take your business knowledge to the strategic level. This will enhance your management and leadership approach.
Analytical thinking – fully understanding different areas of the business puzzle will provide you with any missing knowledge to make educated decisions within your company.
Communication – in leadership positions, communication is an essential skill when working with each stakeholder, especially in today’s challenging and fast-paced environment.
Problem solving – an EMBA programme allows you to analyse workplace issues that you may face throughout your career. This is a particularly useful skill that you can implement immediately in your current role.
Diane Long, 2018 graduate of the Chicago Booth (US) Executive MBA programme in Hong Kong, has several tips for EMBA aspirants looking to gain their employer’s trust. According to her, you need to align the curriculum of your desired business school with your company’s specific case. “Identify current initiatives and problems that exist in your firm and where courses would be of significant value and then map out how you will share your new-found knowledge,” Diane says. She believes that following a number of steps on the way to your Executive MBA can help persuade your manager to support and sponsor your studies.
Initiate innovation adapted to your company culture
The fresh perspective, ideas and knowledge acquired from your EMBA studies that you can bring to the table are a great benefit for your employer. While still part of the EMBA programme, you will be able to introduce new concepts gained in the classroom to your workplace, along with approaches you learnt from peers.
Bringing an innovative spirit, but one adapted to the company culture, is of high value. The teamwork, the enhanced communication style and the confidence gained in business school will enable you to present new ideas without provoking annoyance or concern – something that middle and upper managers strive for. On top of that, you will be able to continuously pass on what you have learnt to your team or even to fellow leaders or board members.
“As you come back to the office after each module, you will inevitably cascade many of the benefits and the learning you are gaining from the programme to others in your organisation,” says French school INSEAD’s guide to winning your employer’s support. “As you interact with others in your company and explain your new perspectives and newly acquired business models, they too will be learning.”
To successfully make your case to your employer, Diane Long from Chicago Booth (US) suggests having a pitch deck at the ready and in a format your company is used to. Outline these specific benefits that the organisation will reap as a result of the EMBA endeavour.
Gain a new business network for you and your company
If you want to succeed in an executive position, you have to be able to cultivate a network that goes beyond borders. Studying in an EMBA programme can open doors to many influential international contacts for you and your employer. If nurtured properly, that network can attract more business to the company.
As an EMBA student you can expand your network through global electives, experienced faculty and the alumni community, forming connections that will help you in your current position and, by extension, will be useful to your employer. That experience can be hugely beneficial to companies with global reach or to those that wish to branch out into foreign markets.
Research from 2019 by the Executive MBA Council showed that the percentage of programmes offering an international trip had remained stable since 2015. In 2019, 93.2% of all EMBA programmes offered mandatory or optional global trips.
The start of the pandemic in 2020 certainly shifted the focus from study trips abroad to blended learning and the power of technology. However, we can expect that in 2022 company projects and social initiatives in different parts of the world will be back in full force as part of the immersive EMBA experience.
Access the latest know-how, research and consultancy perspectives
Consultancy projects are a big part of any EMBA programme. They help familiarise you with an industry and exercise your skills of understanding the business. As an EMBA participant you will gain experience in new market strategies, benchmarking, best practice analysis, diversification assessments and complete strategic reviews.
Applying research and knowledge from those consultancy projects to your company can help solve major challenges for your employer. With in-depth understanding of your company’s dynamics and culture but a fresh perspective, coupled with the knowledge and consulting approach, you can add real value to organisational and business growth, way beyond just saving external consultant fees.
Dr Michael Tang completed the EMBA for Physicians at Brandeis University (US). In 2019, he worked with his organisation to focus his Executive Team Consulting Project (ETCP) on behavioural health integration through a management approach. Then he received funding to expand this project to additional health centres throughout the state of Massachusetts.
“There was great synergy between my ETCP and my job,” Dr Michael Tang says. “The project advanced my thinking and generated content, which I could then take back to my job to build support from my leadership, assist my colleagues and increase financial backing.” As long as you prepare strong argumentation with specific examples of potential projects you can take on at your company, an Executive MBA should be within reach.
Undoubtedly an EMBA provides many benefits to your company, not just to your professional advancement. It is in your employer’s best interests to support you in this exciting endeavour.