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There is clear evidence of an important development taking place at the top end of the EMBA market.

The 2006 Financial Times ranking of executive MBA programmes shows that some of the more successful and well-known providers have spotted an opportunity and have decided that joining forces is the best way of grasping it.

They have had impressive results.

Of the top five programmes in the ranking, three are jointly offered by two or more business schools working together. In total, the ranking contains eight EMBAs offered by collaborating business schools and five of these are within the top 15.

The 2005 ranking included six joint EMBAs.

This year’s two newcomers are the joint Columbia Business School and London Business School EMBA Global and the Trium Global EMBA, which is jointly offered by HEC Paris, the London School of Economics and the Stern School of Business at New York University.

These two new programmes have stormed the rankings; taking positions two and four respectively.

The joint programme that occupies position three, the
Kellogg-Hong Kong University of Science and Technology EMBA has a different delivery model to the other two top five programmes: it is mostly based on the Hong Kong campus, whereas the Columbia/LBS and Trium students split their time between the different campuses and continents.

All of this international coming and going, which is a feature of most of the joint programmes ranked, probably comes as second nature to some of the participants.

According to data collected for the 2006 survey, of the entire sample only 15 per cent of respondents had worked in three or more countries before starting the EMBA, as against 31 per cent of those respondents who participated in the eight joint programmes.

The international experience of graduates from the top three joint programmes is even more impressive: 35 per cent of Columbia/LBS respondents, 36 per cent of Trium respondents and 54 per cent of respondents from the Kellogg-HKUST programme had worked in three or more countries prior to the EMBA.

Indeed, for the Columbia/LBS Global EMBA, the international “aspirations” of potential participants and flavour of the programme are crucial differentiating factors when it comes to admissions and targeted marketing.

Caitlin Anstee, marketing manager at LBS, sums up as follows: ”[The EMBA Global is] designed for people who have and are looking to have transnational experience.”

The international aspirations, particularly of respondents from the top three joint programmes, also come out in the data.

When asked about their
reasons for doing an EMBA, graduates from these three
programmes stated that international mobility was fourth
in their list of priorities and gave it more importance than promotion or a change of career.

In the total sample for the eight joint programmes and the overall sample for all schools, international mobility was sixth in the list of eight priorities.

In certain respects, the profile of the joint programme participants does not differ significantly from that of the sample as a whole.

The data collected indicate that the seniority levels of respondents from the joint programmes is similar to that observed amongst all respondents.

Data on the age of the joint programme participants show that the average age, at 34, is slightly lower than that of the whole sample.

There are a few notable exceptions – Trium states that the average age of participants is 40 and this is borne out by the survey data.

Participants in the programme jointly offered by the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary and the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA have an average age of 37.

On the whole, response rates for the joint programmes were high; for all but two of the eight joint programmes, more than 65 per cent of participants gave feedback on their EMBA.

So what are the rewards that a joint EMBA graduate can expect after a hectic one- to three-year schedule of full-time employment combined with an intensive part-time and often internationally-based course?

In most cases, they will have created for themselves a new network of valuable international contacts.

More importantly, the survey data suggests that, for all of these programmes, graduates will also be able to command higher salaries and progress more quickly up the career ladder.

Overall, EMBA graduates who responded to the 2006 survey experienced, on average, a 61 per cent salary increase between the pre-EMBA level and today.

The equivalent figure for the eight joint programmes is 75 per cent and this rises to 80 per cent for the top four programmes. Three years after graduation 66 per cent of respondents from joint programmes were working at partner level or above, as against only 53 per cent in the entire sample

In this then, the business schools that offer these joint programmes can be sure that they have fulfilled the most important wishes of the graduates of their programmes.

For all but two of the joint programmes and for the entire population of respondents, management development and increased earnings were consistently ranked first and second as the most important reasons for pursuing an EMBA.

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