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EMBAs: Older, experienced, driven

Executive MBA courses fashioned for people in work force

By Ian Grayson for CNN

Business schools restrict admissions to executives with considerable working experience.


FT's Executive MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Kellogg, U.S.
3. Chicago GSB, U.S.
4. Stern, NY, U.S.
5. Fuqua, Duke, U.S.
6. Hong Kong UST, China
7. Columbia, U.S.
8. Instituto de Empresa, Spain
9. London Business School, UK
10. Tanaka, Imperial College, UK
Source: Financial Times 2005



Executives taking the top EMBA courses in the U.S., Europe and Asia have average salaries of around $130,000 to $200,000.

A typical EMBA student is likely to be aged in the early 30s, with 6-10 years of working experience.

A top EMBA course can cost $100,000. Customized courses start at a few thousand dollars.


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(CNN) -- Take a look at some of the thousands of executive MBA course participants around the world and a consistent profile emerges of the kind of person likely to undertake such an endeavor.

The concentrated nature of the courses, which usually involve extensive evening and weekend participation, tends to attract a certain breed of executive. They're smart, dedicated and extremely motivated to move to the next stage in their career.

While traditional MBA courses are open to graduates fresh from a bachelor degree course, EMBAs are not. Business schools restrict admissions to executives with considerable working experience, a proportion of which had to have been in a senior managerial role.

Howard Kaufold, vice dean of the Wharton MBA for Executives program, says a typical EMBA student would be an engineer in their late 20s or early 30s. After working hard for six to 10 years, they find themselves in a position of responsibility that can be uncomfortable.

"They gradually have more and more people reporting to them and they might have budget or profit and loss responsibilities," he says. "While they enjoy the challenge they realize they are going to need some more training to get to the next level."

Because of the increase in globalization, most EMBA classes will comprise students from a variety of industry sectors and geographies.

At the Columbia Business School's EMBA program, more than 20 percent of each class comes from outside the United States. Around 30 percent are working in either the accounting or financial sectors with the remainder coming from consulting, media and communications, health care, IT and manufacturing.

Course providers say such diversity aids discussion and provides participants with a broad range of perspectives on the topics covered. All agree that much of the benefit of undertaking an EMBA course comes from the interaction and learning that takes place between the students.

At French business school INSEAD, EMBA course directors point to an international focus as a common characteristic held by participants. Requiring a minimum of seven year's work experience, four of which must have been in a managerial role, the school attracts students aged between 30 and 45 years who are keen to advance their careers within multinational organizations.

EMBA students at the Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada have job titles ranging from chief executive officer to general manager, director and consultant. With an average age of 36 years and average work experience spanning 13 years, the group represents the upper end of the executive spectrum.

Executive MBA Council managing director Maury Kalnitz points to work experience as one of the most critical elements in a typical EMBA student's profile.

"Being able to share real-world experiences is critical," he says. "We are talking about people who are already successful at what they do but want to learn more and are passionate about success."

Kalnitz says EMBA participants also tend to be people who are comfortable with their careers and don't want to have to opt out for two years to complete a traditional MBA course. Rather, they are prepared to juggle full-time work with an often heavy study load.

Such career dedication is perhaps the most important common trait shared by all EMBA students. Prepared to learn from their peers as well as lecturers, they are consistently challenging themselves with new goals.

They also tend to be flexible and have the ability to juggle multiple tasks at any one time. As well as helping them complete their studies, such skills become invaluable once they enter the ranks of senior management.

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