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In the 18th century, embarking upon a cultural Grand Tour of Europe was an educational rite of passage. In the 21st century, top executive MBA programmes are increasingly providing a contemporary equivalent, with their students accruing a wealth of air miles and passport stamps.
Of the top 10 EMBA programmes in 2011, seven involve teaching on more than one continent. The EMBA programme at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, based in the US, takes in six countries in Europe and Asia.
FT analysis suggests that the average student will travel approximately 41,500 miles for compulsory teaching on the top 10 EMBA programmes. This is equivalent to more than one-and-a-half times around the equator.
While travel may well broaden the mind, flying also results in the emission of carbon dioxide – a major contributor to climate change. Using UK government estimates of CO2 emissions per passenger mile flown, the FT calculates that these students’ course-related travel generates about 11.8 tonnes of CO2 each, assuming economy class travel. If students elected for business class, this figure would be 24.2 tonnes each. The average total annual “carbon footprint” for individuals in industrialised nations is about 11 tonnes.
If students from these 10 programmes were to offset their course-related emissions, at least 17,000 trees could be planted – about the total number in central London’s Royal Parks.
An Olympic contender
The 2012 Olympic Games in 2012 has special significance for Cambridge University EMBA student and equine vet Julian Samuelson. It will be the job of his practice to look after the 200 horses that participate in the games in Greenwich Park in south London. “Our veterinary training was marvellous but we didn’t get any formal training in business,” he says. Presumably crisis management and logistics will play a big part in his Judge Business School programme.
The pursuit of happiness
Wellbeing is increasingly on the agenda for policymakers, who now pore over happiness indices alongside traditional indicators. In business, too, the bottom line is no longer the only measure of success.
Prosperity is more than “return on equity and value to shareholders”, says Simon Learmount, director of the executive MBA at Judge Business School in Cambridge.
He says the Judge EMBA was devised with wellbeing in mind, and adds that people who successfully manage intensive study, career and family make better leaders.
A happy, well-rounded executive is likely to be a better manager than a stressed one – and more schools are taking note, whether by offering yoga classes, nutrition advice or personal coaching.
At Columbia Business School in New York, Hitendra Wadhwa draws on cognitive behaviour therapy techniques.
Ariane Ollier-Malaterre of Rouen Business School in France agrees that a whole-person approach makes sense. “Wellbeing is not just wishy-washy ‘be nice to your employees’,” she says. “It’s important for society as a whole, for economic competition and for the company – from the top down.”