Illustration of sailboats by Neil Webb
© Neil Webb

The Financial Times executive education rankings, now in their 16th year, include a record number of programmes. The FT ranked the top 80 customised and the top 70 open programmes in 2014. For the third year running, the same schools top the rankings: Duke Corporate Education in the customised category and IMD in the open table.

Executive education offers non-degree programmes to corporations and working managers. Programmes are open (available to all) or customised (tailor-made for an organisation). The rankings are based on participants’ and clients’ satisfaction, the diversity of participants and faculty, and the school’s international exposure.

Duke Corporate Education tops the customised ranking for the 12th consecutive year. HEC Paris is second for the sixth year running, and Iese of Spain is third for the third year. HEC Paris was fairly close behind Duke, coming first in four of the criteria judged by customers.

Duke’s corporate customers praise the school’s relationship with clients. Suzanne McAndrew, vice-president in charge of talent management at American Express, says: “Duke ensured that we deliver the right return on investment on this programme and continues to evolve the design to match our short-term and long-term leadership needs.”

In the open ranking, IMD Switzerland improved further its performance in the participant survey. It is ranked first in three of the corporate criteria and within the top five for another six criteria. The school is also ranked in the top five for the diversity of its participants and faculty.

Chicago Booth climbed three places to second, while Darden Business School at the University of Virginia rose furthest, climbing 11 places to rank joint third with HEC Paris.

Executives who attended IMD’s programme went through an intensive self-assessment process, which one participant compares with “brain surgery”. The quality of the teaching and participants is particularly appreciated: “The programme provided a stimulating, energetic, and positive environment with [similar] fellow students in which you can get the best out of yourself,” says Rob de Vries, vice-president of Europe Marine Control, an electrical engineering company.

Some 41 per cent of customers are considering increasing their spending on executive education over the next three years –up 4 percentage points on the last ranking. Revenues from open programmes are also up on average, with three in five schools performing better in 2013 than in 2012.

A high level of satisfaction in both groups encourages loyalty to their training providers. Ninety per cent of corporate customers are likely to reuse the same school for the same programme and 95 per cent are likely to contact the school for new programmes. Open programmes have on average more than 50 per cent of repeat business.

The quality of professors is rated highest of the categories by open and customised course participants, with an average score of 9.1 out of 10. Both groups also agree that follow-up is the poorest-performing aspect of executive education, giving it a rating of 8.2 and 8.3 respectively.

Client companies, which are possibly more demanding than individuals, rated “aims achieved” at 8.9, slightly lower than open participants at 9.1. “New skills and learning” also scores slightly lower at 8.7 compared with 8.9.

Comments on both types of programme also reflect a high level of satisfaction. Many participants reported the course as a life- or career-changing experience, while corporate customers also praise their impact.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article