Age is the great decider

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Working at weekends, giving up your holidays, domestic pressures. Such are the issues facing anyone who wants to do an executive MBA. So, why do so many experienced managers opt to study while continuing in their job?

The obvious advantage of studying for an EMBA is that it allows a candidate to earn while studying. Moreover, most of the respondents in our survey (around 80 per cent) had all or part of their course costs paid for by their employer – compared with 15 per cent of full-time MBA students (Financial Times MBA 2005).

One question alumni were asked when responding to the Financial Times questionnaire was whether they chose to do an EMBA to earn promotion or a higher salary. The answer depended greatly on the age of the respondent.

Among the younger respondents – those aged 30 and under when they started their EMBA – 63 per cent said promotion within their company was important and 80 per cent said they had started their EMBA to earn a higher salary. Among those respondents aged 31 to 40 when they began their EMBA – this group accounts for 61 per cent of all respondents – 60 per cent said they took the degree to get promotion and 75 per cent were looking for a higher salary. In the oldest group, those over the age of 40 when they began their programme, only about half (52 per cent) were hoping the degree would lead to promotion and 64 per cent were hoping for a higher salary.

The EMBA 2005 rankings data also shows how women’s aspirations differ from those of men. Forty per cent of women said they wanted to change employers, compared with 36 per cent of men. However, a higher percentage of the male respondents (61 per cent) listed promotion as a goal compared to female respondents (53 per cent).

Men were also more inclined to use the EMBA in a bid to get employment abroad. (Thirty-four per cent of men listed this as a reason for doing an EMBA, compared with just 28 per cent of women.) This corresponds with the international mobility statistics in the survey, which shows that 21 per cent of male alumni are currently working in a country different to the one in which they worked before their EMBA, compared to only 13 per cent of their female counterparts.

Employers who contribute financially to their employees’ EMBA course might hope the employee will remain at the organisation in the long-term. The survey data does not back up this view.

Of the respondents who received full or partial funding from their employers, 31 per cent said they took the degree to change employers. Furthermore, 45 per cent of those who received employer funding wanted to change their career.

Of all those alumni who were company sponsored more than a third (39 per cent) have changed employers at least once in the three years since graduating. Even while they were studying, more than a fifth of the company-sponsored EMBA alumni actually moved to another organisation.

On average, EMBA alumni had an overall increase in salary of 53 per cent, in the period from before the EMBA to the present day. This compares with salary increases of more than twice as much, 117 per cent, for those studying for a full-time MBA.

Even though EMBA students are older than their MBA counterparts – the average age of respondents to our survey was 36 (when they started their programme) compared with 28 for the full-time MBA (MBA2005) – the reasons for doing the degree were much the same. Both groups of respondents cited management development, increased earnings and career progress as three of their principle aims for studying their degree.

However, EMBA respondents also cited networking opportunities as being of prime importance – 67 per cent of EMBA respondents said this was an important aim for them.

Perhaps surprisingly, a greater level of management experience did not persuade students that they wanted to set up their own company. At 26 per cent, the number of EMBA graduates who took their degree to set up their own company was almost identical to that of MBA students.

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