Building the next leadership pipeline with short-term executive programs in Top B-schools

Seasoned executives in large corporations may have loads of experience in management, but there are many aspects of business that need to be honed constantly to make it to the top of the ladder.

A good way of doing that is through some executive business programs on offer in almost all major business management colleges. Considering the busy lifestyles of most of these executives, there are some short-term courses tailored and customized for their needs. Because these full-time managers have significant work experience and already understand the essentials of business, they often desire advanced business courses that delve into the intricacies of various management challenges.

Hence, many B-schools offer executive MBA or EMBA programs designed for leaders like them.

Top B School Business Programs

B schools chase the chances of short-term courses to expand and adopt quick skill development.


Executive business management programs tend to focus less on business basics and more on the nuances of business. The courses can be used to be more effective managers by leaders and by managers to be better leaders.

The average age of an executive in such programs is generally between 35 to 40, with about roughly 15 years of experience. The programs are often scheduled on weekends and weeknights. The coursework is done over longer sessions and compressed.

“These are programs that are designed so that working professionals can fit them into their lives, so you’re not going to go on campus during the day four or five days a week,” says Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC). “There’s a myriad of formats: everything from meeting monthly for three immersive days to meeting biweekly for one or two days.”

Employees working for ten years or more have likely developed core skills in a specific discipline, and if they want to make the transition to the C-suite, they need to expand their knowledge. Therefore, one can choose programs that may offer concentrations or specializations that let students get a specific kind of EMBA, such as an EMBA in health care or hospital management.

If students truly want to narrow their focus, other kinds of degrees could be more appealing. A finance expert who wants now to expand into marketing or customer dealings can choose from a myriad of short courses that deal in the same fields. 

As people advance in their industry, they may need to develop leadership, finance, or accounting skills, which they can acquire through these EMBAs or short business courses.

Cost Factor

The average cost of an EMBA, according to EMBAC’s 2019 Membership Program Survey, is $82,796. However, many business schools charge significantly more than the average rate. Sometimes the price of an EMBA exceeds $100,000 and occasionally at highly prestigious B-schools the course cost surpasses $200,000.

The executive business program generally are packed in 18 to 24 months duration. There are some short term ones which are geared specifically and are niche and can run for 3 to 6 months.

Though for these courses, most are fully or partially sponsored by their employers. However, the percentage of self-funded executives has gone up in recent years to almost 53 percent.

The average EMBA grad received a 13.5% increase in compensation between the start and end of their executive MBA program, according to the 2019 EMBAC Student Exit Survey. And almost 40 percent manage to get a promotion after pursuing a course.

Curriculum and Colleges

The core curriculum in these short-term courses and EMBA programs mirror the MBA course. The difference lies in the way the courses are imparted. There are more live sessions with real-life scenarios as the executives come with their own field experience; hence, the discussions are more intense and at a higher level. In addition, there are more interactions and guest lectures with industry leaders.

Associate Dean of Kellogg School of Management, Greg Hanifee, says their business school offers some courses that only EMBA students can take.

There are any array of courses available exclusively to Executive MBA students in Kellogg’s executive course, including 52 electives in 14 countries and across five continents. 

They have a class on the causes of leadership successes and failures, catered to the executives who are on their way to the top and want to be prepared for the challenges ahead.

A major advantage of these executive courses is that the lessons learned can be immediately applied in their everyday work life. The learners can see the differences (or not) they bring to their managerial and leadership styles.

Along with practical skills of management and accounting a special emphasis is given on courses on customer needs, marketing frameworks and Mergers & Acquisitions. Hence, they are better prepared to leverage a buyout that might be taking place in their current company.

Patrick Sweeney II, an entrepreneur who is on the board of the Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, says the primary difference between executive and traditional MBA programs is the cohort of students in the programs.

Executive MBA students are there to polish the skills they already have. For example, a new MBA is just laying the foundation of his managerial journey, whereas an executive comes to the program to polish a certain set of skills that will make him or her more equipped to handle their ambitions and the problems that their work throws out every day.

Executives who have attended executive MBAs testify that the knowledge and network that they gain in such courses and programs have made a bigger, better and broader impact inside their organizations.

Here we bring you a list of executive MBA programs on offer by the major B schools.

Stanford Graduate School of Business believes in diversity and has a leadership lab where practical experience and course work is taught with eh help of leaders in the industry and alumni.

The London Business School’s Executive MBA focuses on knowledge and bringing about change in their organizations and influence the same everywhere. Their courses emphasize assessing and analyzing strengths and weaknesses to enhance self-awareness and flourish in their chosen fields.

London Business School was among the first to recognize that entrepreneurship wasn’t simply a natural talent one was born with but could be taught. INSEAD’s MBA program is high on flexibility and one of the main elements taught is leadership development.

They include organizational behavior courses with psychology, social psychology and sociology to explore leadership and managerial practice. 

The Wharton Business School is known for its emphasis on the team model. The school is well-regarded for its role in pioneering ‘The Learning Team Model’ in MBA-level business. The idea is to teach to recreate a business team in which leadership skills are developed through working together, not simply with the bestowment of a title. 

Harvard Business School is globally renowned for its case study method. The school publishes roughly 350 new cases each year, And for them leadership skills are the core of any program and stem from awareness and understanding.

One common thread that these schools emphasize in their learning programs is the investment they make in awareness and understanding – both of yourself and those with whom you interact on a daily basis. They encourage this understanding through hands-on, experiential learning and opportunities to reflect back on strengths and weaknesses to gain new insights for the future.

Courses help us adapt and change

According to London Business School professors, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, today’s technological and medicinal advances mean that 50 percent of children born today are likely to cross a hundred. 

That means people will have a longer working life. They will have to frequently reboot themselves to adapt to the changing technology and advancements that are bound to occur in their lifetime.

Executive MBA programs, refresher technological courses, mentoring and similar learnings are the way forward. Experts say it is time to now look beyond the tried and tested methods. The Pandemic has already shown us that we need to relearn the way we work.

Technology, behavioral sciences, communication and collaboration, are going to play a greater role in businesses. The traditional chain of command is bound to change and the leadership model that these courses cover needs to be changed.

Along with looking outwards for such skilling programs, employers need to look for more options for upskilling their senior staff.

E-learning has become more widely accepted. Also, in-house programs that are more organizational-centric can be tied to these learning platforms or B schools even to make them more accessible.

There can be a mix of short-term executive education programs with long-term EMBA programs for more holistic training and to bring about transitional changes to individual careers. 

The need now is not to fill skill gaps but to learn over a lifetime. The aim is to turn the learning programs and, through them, the executives into adaptable thinkers. The big change, then, when looking into the future of executive education, will be to its value proposition. The skills they learn, such as leadership, are a “huge value for executives looking for executives.”

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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