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Patricia Eskinasy could have gone anywhere. A Brazilian national, Eskinasy was already a long way from home working for a Scandinavian telecommunications company and living in Stockholm when she began considering where to study. She looked at executive MBA programmes around the world before choosing London.
“London is the melting pot,” she says simply.
Networking opportunities were important in her choice. “I didn’t only look at London, but London allows me to nurture the network that I already have,” Eskinasy explains.
The convenience of London’s transport links also played a part. “London is the hub. It is way easier to get to than Asia, which is somewhere else I considered.”
Eskinasy is enrolled on London Business School’s Executive MBA (London) programme, which runs Friday and Saturday of alternate weeks in London in year one, with the choice of electives in locations including New York and Hong Kong in year two.
Dina Dommett, executive director of EMBA programmes at LBS, is well placed to comment on the choice of London as a place to do an EMBA. She was formerly associate dean for EMBAs at Columbia Business School in New York and a member of the team that designed the EMBA-Global, a programme jointly offered by LBS and Columbia, and one of four EMBA offerings from LBS.
“We intended to capitalise on the ‘NyLon’ [New York, London] and ‘Cool Britannia’ phenomena,” says Dr Dommett.
EMBA-Global was launched in 2001 and has seen robust demand ever since, she says. “We can tell the London location is favoured by students, because they flock here from all our EMBAs to the block week electives.”
She says most students do serious networking while on the programme and many whose company has a London office are thinking of taking up their next role in the city.
A student enrolled on one of LBS’s EMBA programmes, who asked to remain anonymous, agrees that networking options are particularly important for her. She intends to go one step further and sees London as a good place to raise venture capital, because she intends to launch her own business.
“London is seen as the gateway to Europe and Asia,” says Dr Dommett. “We are keeping waiting lists for all our programmes.”
The advantages of the UK capital are also what drew Chicago Booth School of Business to move its European campus to London in 2005 and offer an EMBA, according to Glenn Sykes, associate dean of Europe and Asia.
He says that in 2004, Chicago Booth reviewed its overseas campus strategy. It decided to choose places where there were a significant number of alumni, where media organisations were based, there were good transport links and where people did business. “London came out on top and it still does,” says Sykes.
In contrast to LBS’s buoyant reports, however, he says he has noticed some fallout from the “economic dark cloud” over Europe.
“We have seen a slight drop in applications completed over the last two years,” he says. He puts this down to a general decline in employer sponsorships but adds: “Had we been somewhere else in Europe, I believe we would have been worse affected.”
The buoyant application figures and relative resilience reported by LBS and Chicago Booth are borne out by data collected by the Graduate Management Admission Council. They show applications to do EMBAs in the London metropolitan area (as represented by completed Graduate Management Admission Test test scores sent to schools) have remained relatively strong. There were 873 in 2009, a slight drop to 848 in 2010, a rise again to 918 in 2011 and 1,029 in 2012.
Julia Tyler, GMAC executive vice-president of global market development, says the larger increase in 2012 was in line with a global increase and attributable to a change in the test.
“Despite the pressures, the numbers applying to do an EMBA in London appear to be pretty steady,” she says.
That London is continuing to do well is interesting when you take into account the rapid growth in competition. Tyler says there were 63 EMBA programmes in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region that used the GMAT test as an entry requirement in 2012, but this has jumped to 71 in 2013.
For Erin O’Brien, associate dean of global degree programmes at NYU Stern School of Business in the US, London’s location is key to its success.
O’Brien, who helps look after the Trium Global EMBA, which is offered jointly by NYU Stern, the London School of Economics and HEC Paris, says: “London is in the middle – it is in the middle of date and time, and between north and south, east and west. We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to leverage London as a location.”
She says Trium has a cohort of 85 students a year from about 40 countries. They attend six modules over 17 months and start and end the programme in London. About half the class are expatriates and living in a different location to the one in which they were born.
O’Brien believes that for such an international group of students, London ticks all the boxes. “It would be difficult to have a global programme without spending some time in London,” she says.