"To be an effective leader you have to continually sharpen the saw. Lifelong learning is essential if we are to fulfill our potential. The MBA is an opportunity to broaden and strengthen my leadership skills at the same time ensuring I have the necessary technical/academic basis to support further career development in an international and diverse environment."
Name: Elvira Böck
Currently: EMBA participant and Customer Financial Services Director for Nike, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division, based in Hilversum, the Netherlands.
What made you want to do an Executive MBA?
To be an effective leader you have to continually sharpen the saw. Lifelong learning is essential if we are to fulfill our potential. The MBA is an opportunity to broaden and strengthen my leadership skills at the same time ensuring I have the necessary technical/academic basis to support further career development in an international and diverse environment.
The EMBA has given me fresh viewpoints, new ideas and the freedom to explore those ideas. The most powerful thing about the EMBA is that you can deploy what you have learned and leverage the experience of your fellow students. You can go out there and try it out in a safe and supportive environment.
How does NIKE value your EMBA experience?
Nike is very encouraging and supportive. The MBA is a win-win that is beneficial to me and to the company. I’m encouraged to apply the theory I learn into my role within the company. Nike and I recognise that although a great deal can be learned in the workplace and on the job, this is no substitute for improving knowledge and skills via academic study with highly qualified and experienced faculty, and a highly diverse and international student body.
In which ways has NIKE supported your EMBA?
Nike is providing both some financial support as well as four study days off a year allowing me to work flexibly to attend the bi-weekly classes on Friday evenings. I use my study leave to attend the week-long residential course at the start of each calendar year. I focus on work during the day and study for the EMBA in the evenings and on week-ends.
Which elements of the EMBA have you been able to immediately use professionally?
I use the decision trees and simulations I learned about in management science as tools to analyse the cost and benefit of credit offers and quantify the break-even points. I have also improved my ability of exercising influence without authority. When you are working in a team with other students on an assignment, everyone is equal. To get results, you need alignment on your objectives. The team needs to identify a common purpose and deliverables and work toward it. This translates readily to the workplace. Also, I am applying what I learned about organisational architecture in the managerial economics course to re-organisation project at work.
How has the Personal Leadership Development programme within the EMBA changed you?
The modules within the PLD segment help to increase self awareness and enhance leadership skills; furthermore, it provides concepts and frameworks of the many facets of management, and assists in developing new perspectives.
I find PLD to be one of the most important and challenging parts of the EMBA. It is as much about how you lead yourself as well as others, Furthermore, it addresses how to work effectively within networks in an increasingly complex, fast-paced and global environment.
How has PLD impacted your job performance , and on your personal development?
PLD is helping me build effective relationships within and outside of the organisation.. I think it has made me more flexible in terms of adapting my behaviour to the situation and who I am dealing with. To elicit the best performance from others you need to develop holistically as a person in terms of values, ethics and motivation. Equally important, it has helped me to raise my self awareness.
How have you achieved an optimal work/life balance?
To complete this programme with a demanding full-time job is a challenge. You have to be totally committed. I have a partner but I don’t have any children so I have it easier than many of my fellow students who have a family. Work/life balance is all about choices and prioritising. We all struggle at times. However, in my case, I feel that the benefits of the programme for me far outweigh the sacrifice of giving up my weekends.
What special advice can you give women considering an EMBA?
Just do it! It’s a great platform to self-improve, learn and stretch yourself in an international and highly professional environment. If you are looking to invest in yourself, this is an effective, motivating and rewarding way of doing it; it provides tools and skills we as leaders will need to succeed in today’s and stay competitive in tomorrow’s global business environment.