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Network a valued study by-product

Personal bonds extend beyond graduation

By Ian Grayson for CNN

British PM Tony Blair is among high-profile speakers to address London Business School alumni.


FT's Executive MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Hong Kong UST, China
3. London Business School, UK
4. Instituto de Empresa, Spain
5. Fuqua, Duke, U.S.
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Columbia, U.S.
8. Kellogg, U.S.
9. Stern, NY, U.S.
10. Cass, City University, UK
Source: Financial Times 2006



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) -- As well as a certificate for the office wall and letters after their name, MBA and EMBA students leave business schools with something even more valuable -- a network.

After spending an intensive period studying and interacting with peers during their course, students form personal bonds that last well beyond the graduation ceremony.

These networks of relationships span companies, industry sectors and even countries, creating an informal web of contacts, knowledge and influence. Picking up the phone to call a CEO is a lot easier if you've worked alongside them in a lecture theater.

Because post-graduate courses attract a certain caliber of business person, the likelihood of meeting people with a similar mindset and career goals is very high. Many graduates report that some of the most valuable lessons learned came not from lecturers but from their fellow students.

Top business schools understand the importance of such networks and actively encourage their graduates to maintain professional links after courses are completed. Some arrange regular gatherings or provide on-line resources to stimulate the continued exchange of ideas.

Through alumni organisations, graduates are also encouraged to stay in contact with the school itself, assisting with anything from the vetting of prospective new students to fund raising for new facilities.

One example is the London Business School, which has more than 23,000 alumni working in some 100 countries around the globe. The school has overseen the establishment of a network of 40 alumni clubs.

Regular networking sessions are conducted and often attract high-profile guest speakers. Those who have addressed the school's alumni include Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Executive education associate dean at the Paris-based HEC, Dr. Bertrand Moingeon, says his school's alumni have a dedicated team of staff devoted to them to provide ongoing career advice as well as a regular magazine which updates them on the achievements of other members.

"We don't really feel the need to encourage our students to stay in touch," he says. "They just do it because it is a win-win situation for them."

Moingeon says alumni members have regular opportunities to maintain their network of business contacts. Each receives updated contact information, invitations to reunion programs and access to the alumni on-line directory.

At U.S.-based Stanford Business School, networking between graduates is aided by the use of a specially created Web-based e-mail system. Participants receive a unique address which identifies them as alumni members.

The school also operates a Web-based job board on which alumni members can post details of positions that are vacant within their organisations. The global nature of the network means geographically dispersed graduates are able to find out about positions that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Stanford's Graduate School of Business MBA admissions director Derrick Bolton says the network that exists between former students is powerful but it should not be the primary reason that students decide to take up post-graduate study.

"People come to school to learn, and if you do a good job at sharing ideas and working with peers, you get a network as a byproduct," he says. "However there is a clear distinction between an alumni and a network."

Networks tend to be informal and based on personal relationships established and developed over time, whereas an alumni is more structured and usually coordinated by the business school itself.

MBA admissions director at the U.S.-based Wharton School, Thomas Caleel, says his school has an impressive list of high-profile and successful graduates who make a point of maintaining an active network.

"Everyone stays involved for their own reasons," he says. "Like any network, if you come in and only expect to receive, you will be disappointed."

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