The world’s top full-time MBA programs have enjoyed several years of rising applicant numbers, fuelled by the struggling economy and strong international demand, notably from Asia. But with an improving global jobs market, many schools are now seeing a fall in full-time MBA applications. However, what may be bad news for one part of the business school portfolio, is likely to be good news for another.
With no need to sacrifice your job, the Executive MBA is looking like a sound investment for seasoned managers with an eye on a place in the C-suite. The most recent survey conducted by the Executive MBA Council reported a 3 per cent increase in enquiries on the previous year. Despite one or two notable exceptions (the Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB are yet to offer an EMBA course) it appears that schools around the world have been taking note, and placing international expansion and global business practice at the top of the executive agenda.
Trium, a Global Executive MBA programme run jointly by NYU-Stern school, HEC Paris and the London School of Economics, is celebrating its tenth anniversary by adding a second cohort in 2012. “We are now expanding this program because both the need and the value of having a global perspective have increased in the intervening decade,” explains Bernard Ramanantsoa, Dean of HEC Paris. “The program integrates international economic, political and social policy into the business curriculum, which are aspects often neglected in traditional business curricula yet are widely accepted as critical to successful global business.”
More companies are also turning to business schools to help develop managers who can lead teams in a global business environment, and consider programs such as OneMBA, a partnership of five leading schools on four continents, as part of their institutional training platform. For Craig James, a Global Controls Advisor at ExxonMobil, the Global Management and Leadership course on the OneMBA program, helped strengthen his cultural awareness, and enabled him to more effectively manage global work teams. “I took what I learned on the weekends and applied it on Monday mornings. My OneMBA global study team was a mirror image of my global team at work.”
Another benefit of the modular delivery format favored by the new wave of executive MBA programs is that distance from the campus is no longer an issue. The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School recently launched its own EMBA and is already welcoming students from far beyond its UK location. The program brings students together once a month, supported by a virtual learning platform, and has meant that students in the first class include a VP from the Walt Disney Company, who makes the monthly commute from Los Angeles.
At first glance therefore it may appear that the global learning initiative has been seized by European schools. Spanish school IESE has recently announced a new EMBA programme based in Sao Paulo, to help develop executives across Latin America. The London Business School now offers it’s Global EMBA in both London and Dubai, as well as a joint programme with the Columbia Business School and Hong Kong University, while rival school INSEAD has further expanded its global footprint, adding an Abu Dhabi campus to existing EMBA options in Fontainebleau and Singapore. In addition to Trium, French Grande Ecole, HEC Paris offers no less than five locations for their executive MBA, in Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, St. Petersburg and Doha in Qatar. The school ensures that all participants follow the same core curriculum and receive the same fundamental content, regardless of where they enrol. Pierre Dussauge, academic director of the EMBA, says the benefit of this is clear. “Our aim is to build a strong participant network across all five locations. If a participant is based in France, but completes a module in China, Russia or Qatar, he or she will be able to build a network of peers around the world.”
But US business schools are determined not to be left behind. The Darden school at the University of Virginia launches its GEMBA in August this year with a clear aim to bring students to the five key markets they feel will figure most prominently in shaping business in the coming century: China, India, Brazil, the US and Europe. Maureen Wellen, Assistant Dean of the Global EMBA Programme at Darden confirms that the program was driven by clear demand from the market, “We asked a lot of people around the world and there was definitely an appetite for the school’s expertise globally – especially from people who were unable to come to Darden for the two-year residential program. Also, it’s clear that students in both the US and abroad want to attain a level of global literacy that most traditional programs simply cannot offer.”
The school’s dean, Bob Bruner, adds to this sentiment. He recently chaired a report by the AACSB accrediting body entitled The Globalisation of Management Education, which suggested that the trend for global programmes is only going to continue on an upward curve. He says, “Business schools have been slow to react to the growing importance executives place on international experience. The rate of globalisation is only going to increase and it will be a disruptive force for which many more managers need to prepare.”