Opinion piece by Joep Elemans, Director RSM Career Centre
A lot of people say doing an Executive MBA is like running a marathon.
It takes time – a good 18 months of your life. It takes commitment. It takes perseverance. And because the Executive MBA is a part-time programme, it takes balancing work, home and education. And that takes stamina – plenty of it.
So what do you actually get out of it?
To answer that question, you need to look at why people take an Executive MBA in the first place.
The executives, managers and leaders who come to the Rotterdam Executive MBA from all over the world usually come for one reason: to change. Whether they are looking for a concrete change of career or to accelerate their leadership journey with their current employer; whether they want to make the shift into a new sector or organisation, or set up their own venture, EMBA students are looking for a transformation that is as personal as it is professional. Because levelling up, developing further and growing as a leader means changing something within yourself. And true change takes time, commitment, perseverance and stamina.
When EMBA students join us in Rotterdam, they sign up to a two-year journey in transformation that gives them access and exposure to the things that they need in order to change.
First they get the academics: cutting-edge thinking on the very latest concepts, ideas, megatrends and future developments in global business and organisations. They get a unique update on what’s going on in our world, from the macro to the micro, across industries and within business organisations.
Then they get the variety: a classroom full of different expertise, experience, outlooks and perspectives. From consultants to IT engineers to human resources, the EMBA cohort is professionally, educationally and geographical diverse. The one commonality our students share is their curiosity to learn and their motivation to change.
They get the chance to constantly put theory into practice: whether assignments or in-company project work happen within their team, their organisation or another business or a different industry altogether. The EMBA gives our students unique exposure to new areas of endeavour and expertise; an opportunity to experiment, to acquire new skills and insights and to broaden their understanding and mindset – all while they learn.
They also get the network: a community of change. The relationships and ties that are built within the cohort, with faculty, with the School and with the broader network of industry and thought leaders transcend the programme and last a lifetime.
And they get the support they need: a community of like-minded peers, faculty, coaches and a dedicated careers team; an environment built on trust, safety and confidence in which to experiment, to take risks, to grow and to change.
When they complete the Executive MBA at RSM, our students walk away with the frameworks, the skills and the tools that empower them to drive the change they need to make.
They walk away with true clarity on what they want and need for themselves. The EMBA journey is a life-changing reflection on what each individual’s actual values, goals and dreams are. And it is an experience that builds the confidence to make those dreams a reality.
Around half of our EMBA alumni go on to move up the ladder within their own organisation. And they do it fast. Within 18 months of graduation, many will have secured two or more promotions, stepping up into positions of greater leadership and responsibility.
Others will make a side-step into a completely new role, organisation, career trajectory or industry. It’s typical for executives from a maintenance role to make the shift into knowledge management, say, and more. One alumnus from the oil industry transitioned from managing rig supplies to leading insurance efforts within his multinational. Another made the shift to the premier league in econometrics, securing a leading job in the City of London shortly after graduating.
Others still go on to launch or to level up their own business, bringing entrepreneurial dreams to fruition across a multitude of spaces, markets, sectors and industries.
The EMBA gives our alumni the knowledge base, the broadened thinking, the leadership toolkit, the clarity and the confidence to enact profound and lasting change in their lives.
It also gives them a certificate – an official and highly prestigious acknowledgement of their achievement. And a signal to others that they have the commitment, the perseverance and the stamina to make it across finish line every time.
Many people liken the Executive MBA to a marathon, and with good reason. But ask any marathon runner what they get out of the experience – if it was worth it – and they’ll likely give you same answer. The effort required is great. The rewards, even greater.