Written by Alan Newton, EMBA Alumni
My prior experience of academic education pre Hult International Business School was entirely theoretical, and – like many things in life – that was down to two key factors, situation and timing. When I studied law at undergraduate level, I was obviously not in the legal profession where my learning could instantly be applied. It would take another three years, and more, beyond the completion of my degree before such deep learning could be applied.
Business School differs because it affords you to apply a lot of what you learn almost instantly, and more so if you are completing an executive education whilst working. Practical application is also largely dependent upon the schools approach to teaching. Does the school utilize entirely theoretical business theories and models, or do they utilize real-world examples and employ professors who remain in the world of business?
The importance of teaching style
As a prospective student, it is important to determine the style and mode of teaching before selecting your school. For me, the ability to apply learning immediately, within my existing job was critical. Firstly, I wanted to add further value to my organization and demonstrate thanks for supporting me in my decision to better myself, but secondly, I wanted to overcome the suspicion my boss had as to the rationale for wanting to do an Executive MBA. Sadly, and this appeared a common experience amongst my MBA cohort, bosses too often view your desire to better yourself and enhance your education as a) a threat to their position, and/or b) a sign that you want to move on. Whilst, in some instances, (b) was true, the common feeling was bosses were naïve in their approach and that their lack of support in development and matching career ambitions created a self fulfilling prophecy driving top talent away.
Hult ticks the boxes in respect to teaching style, as the lion share of our professors continue to operate in the business world, and with a number in the field of consulting, where able to – obeying sensitivity to their clients – bring recent real-world examples to the classroom. The advantage of studying at executive level, is that your cohort also brings a range of experiences and – particularly in the case of Hult cohorts – industry sectors, supported by diversity of cultures and backgrounds. Working within an International business, operating with clients, suppliers and colleagues across the globe, this alone had immediate practical application and advantages. Hult also utilizes the Harvard Case Study method for teaching, which provides multiple real-world business cases that help apply learning.
New business concepts
Business schools will – like any other educational establishment – follow a core curriculum, which will provide you with a number of skills already likely to reside with discipline experts within your businesses. The skills will immediately come in useful and allow you to connect and discuss business concepts with more confidence, and – will likely – elevate you within your organization. However, new business concepts are where you can add very high value, provided you are given the opportunity to apply them.
Scenario Planning was one such discipline. It is a strategic planning process that some organizations adopt to create flexible long-term plans that help future proof the business, no matter what future social, political, legal, environmental, economic, or technological changes occur.
I have been able to adopt practical usage of this discipline when consulting with clients, and I recently witnessed one of my close friends and fellow alumni, Andre Mack, utilise the discipline during a Think Tank Lausanne Hospitality Consulting hosted called Window to the Future. Senior C-Suite Executives from across the world of hospitality attended the Think Tank and Andre used one of the sessions to introduce the concept of Scenario Planning and conduct a workshop which produced a very different type of response and approach to strategic thinking, so much so that he has been contacted by several C-Suite executives to explore their business strategies further utilizing this novel approach.
An Executive MBA has very immediate and practical usage within your career. Fellow alumni and I have learned and applied new skills, often skills that are unique within our organisations and – in some instances – even across industries. This provides distinct advantages in terms of creating added value, demonstrating leadership, and delivering turnkey solutions, all of which are important armoury for your CV and thus a worthy investment.