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Intensive executive learning

EXECUTIVE MBA is the latest buzzword in tertiary education and, although it was created more than 70 years ago at the University of Chicago, only recently has it gained prominence in Australia.

Essentially, the Executive MBA is designed for managers in the 35 to 45 year-old age group who are already in, or are about to join, a senior management team. In contrast, traditional MBA programs are available to younger managers with just a few years’ experience.

A major advantage of the Executive MBA is its intensive program design.

The high workload of many senior managers means they can’t sustain the time commitments required to complete full-time or even part-time study. Many Executive MBA classes are held on Fridays and the weekend. In the Curtin Graduate School of Business Executive MBA program the modules are studied in three intensive blocks over two and three-week periods, and include some residential elements.

Curtin’s intensive learning structure gives these senior people the space to think deeply about the really complex elements of managing their business. Reframing your mental models isn’t something you do coming to class for a day every couple of weeks.

Another advantage of the Executive MBA program is that it assumes the participants already have the broad knowledge typically covered in an MBA.

This allows the course designers to focus on depth in the critical areas of the business for senior managers – business futures, strategic management and leadership.

It has been suggested that Executive MBA programs are only as good as their participants and facilitators.

At Curtin the class sizes are deliberately small and the networking opportunities are just as important as the course work. Executive MBA students are likely to be GMs, CFOs or other senior managers from significant companies.

In addition to drawing academics from Curtin and national and global institutions, the Executive MBA program also makes creative use of talented and experienced leaders and practitioners from business and industry in its classes as adjunct professors and lecturers.

These advantages come with trade-offs. Companies using the Executive MBA need to accommodate the time demands of the program on top of senior executives’ already intensive workload. Cost is also a significant factor.

Curtin’s Executive MBA program is only available to senior managers sponsored by their employers, and comes at a cost: $35,000 (similar US programs can cost more than $100,000).

But the price also means classes will be made up of businesspeople whose companies value them sufficiently enough to foot the bill. And this means the participants can expect to be in a select group of their peers.

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