What experiences can teach

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For decades, an Executive MBA (EMBA) has been a popular way of upgrading a working professional’s knowledge and skills. A part-time postgraduate qualification, it is typically conducted on weekends and week-nights, with the goal of building general management and leadership capability. During COVID-19, the shift to online learning has led to a huge growth in student enrollment at some B-Schools.

While most managers choose to do an EMBA from an egocentric (self) point of view — how will I become a better manager and leader? — sharing experiences as a source of learning is also important from an allocentric (joint) point of view. Here are a few reasons why:

Educational background: Those undertaking an EMBA come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds — the Arts, Commerce, Engineering and Technology, Science, and so on. This is important as it enables multi-educational learning perspectives.

Multiple sectors: EMBA students work in different sectors such as Aviation, Banking, Entertainment and Media, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, and Services, among others. Through sharing experiences, students can learn about what is happening in many industries, and judge whether that learning can be applied to their own.

Job role: Many could be specialists such as accountants and engineers, whereas others could be generalists. What is important is for them to learn from each other. For example, non-marketing persons can learn from those with marketing expertise.

Work experience: EMBA students typically need a minimum three years’ work experience, but cohorts generally average at least 10. Thus, a class of 30 would have an incredible 300+ years of work experience to share. This provides a huge hotbed to learn from past and present decisions, and overlaying this with models/ frameworks/ theory to help better understand and inform these decisions.

Networking: Studying provides a huge opportunity to network within and across cohorts as well as with alumni. This provides a huge opportunity to share and learn.

Benefits: What are the likely benefits of all the above examples? Clearly, such diversity will likely lead to a high quality of learning, whether this is through listening and debating with others during a case study analysis in class, doing an in-class group assessment, or through a major group strategy-type consulting assignment for an organisation. The intended outcome is to make students better managers and leaders.

The writer is Dean , EMBA, and Professor, Strategy at SP Jain School of Global Management

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 10:41:14 PM |

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