Iese, left, and IMD Business Schools are still on top
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IMD and Iese Business Schools have tightened their grip on the top spots of the twin FT executive education rankings, monopolising first and second places for both open-enrolment and customised programmes.

Swiss school IMD comes top in the 2017 ranking of open-enrolment courses, available to all working managers. It also jumps two places to second in the ranking of customised programmes, which are tailor-made for corporate customers. Iese of Spain holds on to the top spot in the custom ranking and remains second in the open ranking.

It is the first time in the rankings’ 19-year history that two schools have between them held the top two spots in both categories.

The 2017 FT executive education rankings include the best 85 customised programmes and the best 75 open-enrolment programmes worldwide. The rankings are based principally on measures of participants’ and clients’ satisfaction, as well as the schools’ growth in revenues, their international reach and faculty diversity.

One of Iese’s strengths is its academic rigour. The Barcelona school performs consistently highly across all aspects of customised programmes. It is ranked in the top five in 11 criteria out of 15. Iese is top for its international clients and the diversity of its faculty.

Its corporate customers value the school’s flexibility and ability to innovate. “We have developed a programme which is co-delivered with an experimental learning provider,” said one client responding to the FT survey. “Iese has been a true partner in this process and our business has benefited with an energised and prepared executive bench.”

After IMD in second place, Duke Corporate Education completes the custom programme podium. It is the third year in a row that the US school is in third place, having previously topped this ranking for a record 12 consecutive years to 2014.

Other notable custom course performances include Harvard Business School, which recorded one of the year’s biggest rises, jumping nine places to fifth. The Massachusetts school was ranked 18th two years ago. 

McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington DC returns to the custom ranking in 15th place after dropping out last year because of a low survey response rate from clients. Only three schools enter the custom ranking for the first time, including London’s Cass Business School in 60th place.

In the open ranking, IMD, in Lausanne, scores particularly highly in the top 10 criteria based on a survey of executives who attended programmes. It is ranked first in three criteria and in the top five for the remaining seven.

IMD participants praised the way their training pushed them out of their comfort zones and also the one-on-one coaching sessions tailored to their individual business situations. “It was an eye opener about what a good leader is,” commented one participant. “We learnt about ourselves first, what drives us and why, in order to manage others.”

Saïd Business School achieved the biggest rise at the top of the open ranking, jumping five places to fourth. It is the first time that the school, based at the University of Oxford, is ranked in the top five. Saïd improved its position in all 10 criteria informed by the participants’ ratings.

Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin showed the best overall progress, moving up 21 places to 48. Guanghua School of Management at Peking University returns to the ranking at 38, after missing last year due to a low response rate from participants.

Finally, only two schools join the open ranking for the first time this year. Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University comes straight in at 32 and Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is ranked 68th out of 75.

A third, combined ranking lists the top 50 schools for executive education, calculated from the customised and open tables

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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