Sponsored post: Take the EMBA plunge - it's worth it

There are lots of reasons to take an Executive MBA: gaining skills, confidence and discovering the direction your career should take. Hina Wadhwa and Dawn Bournand have the low down.

Having spoken with numerous EMBA candidates over the last decade, the main piece of advice we would give anyone considering this prestigious degree is to put themselves in the right frame of mind: success inspires success. The results of pursuing an EMBA can be spectacular, but the journey itself is exhilarating and life-changing. Most of all, you come out of the program richer, not only in terms of knowledge and skills, but also because of the unique moments you will share with the people who will become part of your close network for years to come.

Take the plunge – it’s worth it!

Invest in yourself...

It’s a question of setting off the right signals. By being prepared, in your mid-thirties or forties, to sacrifice your evenings and weekends to develop your skills and broaden your horizons, you are showing those around you that you believe in yourself and that you are gearing up for success. As Emilio Veiga-Gil, Director of Marketing for Latin America and the Caribbean at Moneygram and a University of Chicago Booth School of Business alumnus (Class of 2011) puts it: “I think of a Chicago [E]MBA as a signalling device: it conveys to current/prospective employers something about your intellectual ability and your capacity for commitment.”

It’s easy when you are in a comfortable position to get stuck in a routine. Whilst some employees are lucky enough to have a flight plan for their career mapped out within their organizations or as entrepreneurs, others find themselves stuck in roles that offer little evolution, positive challenges and intellectual stimulation. You sometimes have to break your own glass ceiling and pave your own path to success. The Executive MBA could be your ticket.

Almost a decade on since graduating from university, James Hickson’s, IE Business School Global Executive MBA alum (Class of 2012), career had provided him with some fantastic overseas assignments, yet as he climbed the ranks of seniority, he felt he lacked a broader frame of reference for tackling new challenges. “I wanted to add value but I lacked the content to do so,” says the Global Head of Strategic Projects (Workforce Strategy and Operating Model) for Morgan Stanley New York – a position he can credit to his Executive MBA. “Over time, I identified I needed to take charge of my career and invest in myself if I was to maintain my career trajectory and broaden my horizons.”

“I found I really needed to answer some tough questions, such as ‘Where was I going?’, ‘What are my passions?’, ‘Where were the opportunities for personal growth?’and ‘What value was I going to add to society at large?’ The EMBA proved to be a lens through which to pause and evaluate myself,” he adds.

... and in your network

The Executive MBA is an exciting journey not only because you are back in the classroom revisiting business fundamentals and picking up new skills, but also because you are constantly working on group assignments and case studies with participants from diverse cultures, backgrounds, industries and job functions. All at once, you learn to work with people who are marketers, engineers, financiers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, mid-managers, senior executives, directors, VPs, CEOs, members of boards; talented young executives on the fast track as well as more mature classmates in their fifties.

Ryan Bogan, alum of TRIUM Global Executive MBA (an alliance between New York Stern School of Business (NYU Stern), the London School of Economics (LSE) and HEC School of Management, Paris (HEC Paris)) and former chief operating officer of LMI Aerospace explains that his EMBA experience was a transformational one. “My cohort consisted of 67 senior business leaders, representing over 35 different countries, each one of whom had lessons to teach, not only about becoming a more effective business leader, but also about being a more thoughtful, focused and globally aware individual,” says Bogan.

EMBA graduates report that one of the aspects they most cherish is their experience with the people they meet whilst on the program. “You embark on an EMBA because you want to learn new things, find a new job, increase your networking opportunities and develop your career in general, but you never expect to find such good people. I have made very good friends and we are still in contact. I have also learned a lot from their experience and knowledge, and a lot about myself,” says Rosario García Pecci, Compliance Senior Manager at Grünenthal Pharma and ESCP Europe alumna (Class of 2012)

Gain confidence and rediscover yourself

It’s all about the soft skills - which aren’t actually so soft. If you’ve ever been in a class on effective communications or improving your presentation skills, you’ll know that it’s hard work. Somehow, though, as you go through the program, you get used to standing up in front of an entire classroom full of people to present your case studies and group assignments. You also get more comfortable voicing your opinions, even if this is something you are not used to doing, because that’s the only way to participate in class and group discussions. Moreover, you learn to do this more and more diplomatically, especially because you know you have to work with your classmates throughout the entire program.

As TRIUM GEMBA alumna Florence Klein (Class of 2005) sums up, “You grow up a lot by being exposed to so many cultures, so much high-quality information, and pressure. Even though all of us had stressful careers with long hours, no one could imagine we had the inner resources to do it all. You have to develop survival skills to give your best everywhere, in your studies and of course at your job. It is a real commitment, a two-year period where your life changes but it was the greatest thing I did for myself.”

Take the helicopter seat

For professionals with a sound number of years of experience, it’s refreshing to be back in a learning environment where you are encouraged to leap into a helicopter to look at the world from a different perspective: the big picture view. Understanding the dynamics of general management and the responsibility that goes with it, the political framework of a corporation, as well as the fundamentals of corporate finance and financial accounting, gives you the tool kit you need to be able to manage, lead and innovate.

Moreover, Executive MBA participants tend to get more out of their MBA learning because they are able to look back at their experiences and decisions made in their companies, and analyse the outcomes with a different pair of shades. “I wanted to enhance my skills to better deal with complex business in a broader perspective. I knew that the EMBA would provide me a lot of opportunities to experience many business cases in a short period [of time]; otherwise I would have had to go through many trials and errors in real life, which would have taken [me] a long time,” says Hye-Min Seo, INSEAD Global Executive MBA alumna (Class of 2008) and group product manager for Beiersdorf Thailand, in charge of marketing NIVEA in South East Asia.

“Also, I liked the fact that I didn’t need to stop working while doing my EMBA, so that I could apply the learnings from the class to the daily business in real time,” adds Seo. In effect, past work experience and immediately applicable knowledge make up the experiential learning that gives the Executive MBA an extra edge compared to full-time MBA programs. From learning how to assess an investment decision or prioritise key projects, to reading a company’s annual report, or implementing change in your organization, the Executive MBA is a polyvalent advanced degree.

Are you ready to take the Executive MBA plunge? Come find out by speaking face-to-face with admissions directors and alumni of some of the world’s best business schools at the London World MBA Tour & Executive MBA Tour fair on Saturday, 19th October 2013. For more information and to register: www.topmba.com/NewStatesman

This sponsored post is in association with QS TopExecutive Guide and was written by Hina Wadhwa and Dawn Bournand, Editors of the Guide

Campus life: Take the time to rediscover your ambitions. Photograph: Getty Images.
John Moore
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The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it

"We need to consider the fact that fake news isn't always fake news at the source," says John Moore.

"I wrote that at 8 o'clock on the evening and before midday the next day it had been read out in the Houses of Parliament."

John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor, is describing the whirlwind process by which his social media response to Wednesday's Westminster attack became national news.

Moore used a Tube-sign generator on the evening after the attack to create a sign on a TfL Service Announcement board that read: "All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you." Within three hours, it had just fifty shares. By the morning, it had accumulated 200. Yet by the afternoon, over 30,000 people had shared Moore's post, which was then read aloud on BBC Radio 4 and called a "wonderful tribute" by prime minister Theresa May, who at the time believed it was a genuine Underground sign. 

"I think you have to be very mindful of how powerful the internet is," says Moore, whose viral post was quickly debunked by social media users and then national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun. On Thursday, the online world split into two camps: those spreading the word that the sign was "fake news" and urging people not to share it, and those who said that it didn't matter that it was fake - the sentiment was what was important. 

Moore agrees with the latter camp. "I never claimed it was a real tube sign, I never claimed that at all," he says. "In my opinion the only fake news about that sign is that it has been reported as fake news. It was literally just how I was feeling at the time."

Moore was motivated to create and post the sign when he was struck by the "very British response" to the Westminster attack. "There was no sort of knee-jerk Islamaphobia, there was no dramatisation, it was all pretty much, I thought, very calm reporting," he says. "So my initial thought at the time was just a bit of pride in how London had reacted really." Though he saw other, real Tube signs online, he wanted to create his own in order to create a tribute that specifically epitomised the "very London" response. 

Yet though Moore insists he never claimed the sign was real, his caption on the image - which now has 100,800 shares - is arguably misleading. "Quintessentially British..." Moore wrote on his Facebook post, and agrees now that this was ambiguous. "It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured. What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I'd seen, so that's what I was actually talking about."

Not only did Moore not mean to mislead, he is actually shocked that anyone thought the sign was real. 

"I'm reasonably digitally savvy and I was extremely shocked that anyone thought it was real," he says, explaining that he thought everyone would be able to spot a fake after a "You ain't no muslim bruv" sign went viral after the Leytonstone Tube attack in 2015. "I thought this is an internet meme that people know isn't true and it's fine to do because this is a digital thing in a digital world."

Yet despite his intentions, Moore's sign has become the centre of debate about whether "nice" fake news is as problematic as that which was notoriously spread during the 2016 United States Presidential elections. Though Moore can understand this perspective, he ultimately feels as though the sentiment behind the sign makes it acceptable. 

"I use the word fake in inverted commas because I think fake implies the intention to deceive and there wasn't [any]... I think if the sentiment is ok then I think it is ok. I think if you were trying to be divisive and you were trying to stir up controversy or influence people's behaviour then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen that forum but I think when you're only expressing your own emotion, I think it's ok.

"The fact that it became so-called fake news was down to other people's interpretation and not down to the actual intention... So in many interesting ways you can see that fake news doesn't even have to originate from the source of the news."

Though Moore was initially "extremely shocked" at the reponse to his post, he says that on reflection he is "pretty proud". 

"I'm glad that other people, even the powers that be, found it an appropriate phrase to use," he says. "I also think social media is often denigrated as a source of evil and bad things in the world, but on occasion I think it can be used for very positive things. I think the vast majority of people who shared my post and liked my post have actually found the phrase and the sentiment useful to them, so I think we have to give social media a fair judgement at times and respect the fact it can be a source for good."

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.