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How to Survive an Executive MBA

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Executive MBA studies can be truly overwhelming. They come in addition to your professional and personal responsibilities. How to survive and get the most of an EMBA?

Executive MBA programmes are targeted at senior professionals. The classes comprise students with an average age of 35, and more than 5 years of work experience, often at the managerial level. At this stage in life, people usually also have a family and considerable social engagements.

What are they adding with an EMBA? Just imagine the intensive studies and additional workload for at home (presentation preparation, reading and research); the time to attend classes, work on team projects and travel to campus; the social activities at the business school. Do not forget that employer/company expectations also rise, since an EMBA allows direct implementation of new knowledge and skills on the job. Naturally, employers expect quick business results. Furthermore, there is pressure from family members to keep up the pace of your pre-MBA family involvement.

It is true that most EMBA students have some managerial experience and should be able to handle stress and multitasking. However, an EMBA is always a challenge and the stakes are high in terms of financial investment, meeting increased expectations, and building your reputation.

Check out how to prepare for EMBA Admission

Improve time management

Time management is absolutely crucial to survive in an Executive MBA programme. You will be put under additional pressure to meet deadlines for projects, teamwork, papers and presentations, deadlines that are as important as all your real life job deadlines.

Being at work and having family issues to resolve are not valid excuses for failing to meet deadlines in class. Remember, all your peers are in the same boat and have the same challenges.

Ensure company endorsement

Executive MBA programmes are conducted in a modular format, allowing students to keep working. However, the Executive MBA requires them to be absent from work for several days or weeks regularly for the duration of the programme, which is between 16 and 24 months. That is why it is wise to inform your employer that you are undertaking EMBA studies. Furthermore, it is best that you get the support of your employer for the period of your studies.

Your employer may support you with letters of recommendation, letters of endorsement, financing your studies, etc. Some top business schools will require a formal letter of endorsement from your employer. In this way the school makes sure that you will have the capacity to commit the time, attention and energy needed for your successful studies. On the one hand, this ensures that you will benefit from the programme. On the other hand however, and even more importantly from the school’s perspective – your employer’s endorsement for your Executive MBA studies ensures that you will have the capacity to contribute to the classroom learning environment with your active participation.

Adapt business targets

Another crucial aspect you need to discuss with your employer is your business targets for the EMBA period of study (12-24 months). Most EMBA students tend to stay with their company after graduation and that will be the best time to achieve higher business results. Indeed, during your EMBA studies, you will be able to start implementing your newly acquired skills and knowledge. But it is best if your employer agrees to adapt (rather than increase or even decrease) your targets while you are studying.

This will greatly contribute to your capacity to focus on the Executive MBA and get the most from it. The results will be quickly implemented on the job as soon as you can commit to it fully again.

Negotiate family support

Family support for the long period of your studies can provide indispensible comfort for you. Families can be more demanding than employers when it comes to your contribution. So, start discussing early on with your partner and/or children how your everyday family routine will change. Find alternative assistance if needed to compensate for your absence.

There is also a positive aspect of your studies, especially for any children. What better way to demonstrate the value of learning? Some business schools host open day events for families. These usually have a “wow” effect on children: “Here’s where Mummy goes to school. These are Daddy’s teachers, who mark the homework he does in the evening”.

There is a great reward after graduation. Every EMBA graduate shares that, when the programme ends, they have so much free time. What a luxury! What a reward to all family members to have Mummy or Daddy back for the evenings, weekends and vacations.

Keep a high standard

Your peers in the Executive MBA classroom are, or will be, your business partners or competitors. You will benefit from building a reputation as an achiever, a team-minded person, and a reliable partner.

Pay a lot of attention to all team projects; never be late with deadlines; never neglect assignments; always perform at your best, and be cooperative. This will help you nurture a great network of business partners for the times after your graduation.

Thinking of an EMBA? Start your preparation now. Have questions or comments?  Just post them below this article. PrepAdviser’s admissions and test preparation experts will be glad to reply.

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