Tag: Executive MBA

Olin Professor Stuart Bunderson teaching an EMBA class at WashU Olin.

Congratulations to us! Olin’s Executive MBA program is about to turn 40, so we’re taking a moment to look back over this four-decade history and commemorate some of our greatest achievements. Plus, we’re taking a look into the future and considering where MBA programs, including our own, are headed.

How has the EMBA program evolved over the last 40 years?

Since the birth of our EMBA program, hundreds of leaders have come through our doors to learn, develop their business ideas, grow their networks, and build their careers.

Over that time, we have cultivated a reputation for high-quality teaching and for developing spaces and strategies where students can learn in ways that make sense for them. We are an advocate of flexible MBA programs and learning environments that adapt to the changing times as well as to the changing needs of students and educators.

Our program has developed into an MBA leadership development program in which working professionals can continue their jobs and keep up their responsibilities while also learning intensively. It offers leadership and career coaching that helps students develop their skills while also supporting their outside lives. Many of our people know exactly what they want to achieve through the program, and others take what they learn here and pivot into new career trajectories and new business ideas.

The legacy of our program so far is a network of students who have become successful leaders in business and communities. But it is also a legacy of businesses and brands. The partnerships and friendships students have made over these forty years have created the foundations for many successful business collaborations.

What are we most proud of?

The Olin EMBA program has been ranked among the top EMBA programs in the world. It was ranked 18th globally by the Economist in 2020.

Our faculty ranked even higher—third in the list of global EMBA programs. This ranking is special because it is voted for by students on a five-point scale for teaching quality. Additionally, 100% of our professors are PhD-holders, so our faculty sits at the very top of the most-qualified list.

These are global achievements, but we’re just as proud of our local impact. The program has had great success in training students who go on to become top business leaders in St. Louis and other cities. Because we strive to nurture leaders who are social change-makers, our students often begin to make an impact in the community before they’ve graduated.

Lastly, we are incredibly proud of our students themselves. Our graduates show us every day how valuable this program is. Many are successfully running startups, others are impressing within larger companies. According to our own data, 50% of our recent cohorts were either promoted or offered a new position during their time in the EMBA, showing how quickly the lessons of the program begin to pay off.

How is the EMBA program changing in the future?

Our success doesn’t stop us from wanting to change. Part of our identity is to continue to meet students’ needs and to help them to prepare for an ever-changing business world.

For this reason, our executive MBA curriculum underwent a significant shift in 2020. The changes included developing multiple courses to further the school’s “values-based, data-driven” pillar of excellence. We also added an executive MBA leadership coaching component and a course about data-driven decision-making.

As long as the world keeps turning and changing, we will keep changing too. The business world will keep demanding more from top EMBA programs, and we need to be ready to accept the challenge. How can we adapt an executive MBA curriculum and executive MBA coaching so that we can really be there for tomorrow’s students, no matter what the world throws at them? This is the question that fuels us.

Everyone knows that customized means quality; we would all look much better in a suit made just for us than we would in one we bought off the rack.

WashU Olin Business School offers different types of MBA programs tailored to fit the diverse needs of students at different stages in their careers. The Full-Time MBA works best for students who can leave their jobs and dedicate their time solely to the program.

The Online MBA appeals most to those who can’t leave a full-time job yet want to be digitally enabled leaders—or who just need more flexibility. Olin’s Professional MBA offers evening classes in-person twice a week for the first 27 hours, then the opportunity to choose from various specializations to finish the degree. The Executive MBA allows busy, experienced professionals to attend class just three days per month and focuses on leadership skills throughout the curriculum.

People in various stages of their careers all have strong options with the types of MBA degrees at Olin, and candidates in all four categories will be steeped in digital opportunities and resources. “What type of MBA is right for me?” Well, let’s see:

All in: WashU’s Full-Time MBA option

WashU’s Full-Time MBA program is designed for students who can leave their jobs and commit their days fully to the program. It offers students opportunities for rich global business experience in several major cities around the world. The Full-Time MBA students will also get the full on-campus experience that Olin Business School has to offer.

The Full-Time Program also lets students choose a customized curriculum based on their specific interests. For example, WashU’s program concentrations offer tracks for consulting, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing and supply chain. Students can tailor their MBA experience to their career goals.

Where flexibility meets technology: WashU’s Online MBA

Olin understands that professional students need flexibility, and technology and flexibility go hand-in-hand. WashU’s Online MBA is firmly rooted in the knowledge that technology is rapidly changing the world; thus, the degree requirements frame all classes through the lens of a digitally driven business landscape. Like all WashU MBA programs, the progressive curriculum is built on Olin’s values-based, data-driven leadership framework.

In Olin’s Online MBA, students meet both synchronously and asynchronously. Two nights a week, students are together in a virtual classroom, and on the other nights, they work independently or collaborate virtually. Although the program emphasizes technology, it focuses on technology as a strategic advantage that students can use as leaders and not just on developing technological skills.

The professional approach: WashU’s PMBA

WashU’s Professional MBA (PMBA) requires students to attend class in person twice per week, typically on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Students garner 27 hours of core credits, then they have an additional 27 hours in which they can specialize and focus.

Olin has designed the PMBA for the worker who doesn’t want to leave their job but wants to elevate both their skillset and career. The average student in this program has been working for five or six years and is around 30 years old. To cultivate their professional careers, students have access to a robust alumni network and exposure to corporate partners.

Experience counts: Olin’s Executive MBA program

Lasting just 20 months, Olin’s Executive MBA program moves at the most intensive rate of all the programs. Most participants in the Executive MBA Program already rank highly on the corporate ladder. By pursuing an Executive MBA, they collect the knowledge and skills crucial to making it to the executive or C-suite level.

WashU’s Executive MBA students, who generally range around 40 years old, attend class just three days per month—on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They also participate in three additional residencies or immersive experiences. A marked difference in this program comes from the wealth of experience of the collective students. With the average Executive MBA student having 15 to 20 years of working experience, the classroom conversation builds with the collective wisdom of the cohort.

Olin’s MBA meets students where they are

Regardless of which program a WashU Olin MBA student chooses, they will find certain inalienable traits: an emphasis on entrepreneurial and creative thinking that goes across all programs; experiential world-class learning; and highly ranked, dedicated faculty. During their time in the program, students will build a robust network of accomplished classmates, and WashU alumni and business leaders willingly meet students wherever they are in their career journeys.

WashU’s Olin MBA Program is committed to creating leaders who make change for good. That is the unifying principle the program’s directors keep central by offering cutting-edge, rigorous, world-class programs more accessible to today’s top professionals.

Photo of Brookings Hall against a bright blue sky with the Financial Times logo in the top left and the words "2022 EMBA Shanghai: #9" in the lower left.

Buoyed by strong representation from female students, strong international course experience and very strong salaries for graduates, WashU Olin’s Shanghai-based Executive MBA program rose substantially in the Financial Times’ latest ranking of similar programs for 2022.

The ranking, released in October, showed a marked increase in the program’s performance in the FT ranking over the previous two years. In 2021, Olin’s ranking suffered when pandemic-related issues prevented the program from enrolling a class in time. The year before, in 2020, Olin ranked 16, so its rise to the top 10—in the year of its 20th anniversary—was significant.

“Olin’s joint EMBA program in Shanghai with Fudan University has long been one of the gems of our school,” said Anjan Thakor, interim dean at WashU Olin. “I’m thrilled to see the hard work of so many, and the dedication of our students, recognized by the results of this ranking.”

Daniel Elfenbein, Olin professor of organization and strategy and associate dean for the EMBA-Shanghai program, acknowledged the “tremendous challenges for effectively engaging with students” through COVID-19.

“Thanks to the flexibility of our faculty, our students and our Fudan partners—and the incredibly hard work that each of these groups has put in—the EMBA-Shanghai program remains one that we can be tremendously proud of,” Elfenbein said. “These rankings validate that hard work, and they reflect the impact that our program continues to have in global executive education.”

Program on the vanguard

Olin was on the vanguard among business schools when it partnered with Fudan University in 2002 to launch the first-of-its-kind Executive MBA in China, placing American business faculty members in front of Chinese nationals to teach global business principles.

At the time, China was just entering the World Trade Organization, and its economy was the sixth largest in the world. Today, China’s economy is ranked second, and the program counts more than 1,000 students among its graduates.

Among the highlights of the 2022 Financial Times ranking:

  • The incoming class in the joint Shanghai-based program was 42% female, placing Olin 15th among schools.
  • Alumni salaries were strong, averaging $398,893, moving Olin up from 10th to sixth in that dimension of the ranking.
  • In international course experience, Olin rose substantially, from 39th to 22nd.
  • The WashU-Fudan program also showed continued strengths in its ranking for work experience (10th) and its Financial Times research ranking (eighth).

“The fact that our program continues to soar is a testament to the commitment and passion of everyone involved—students, staff and faculty,” said Markus Baer, professor of organizational behavior and Olin’s vice dean of executive education. “We are excited about the future and what we can accomplish in the years to come.”

One area of opportunity centered in curriculum content hours focused on environment, sustainability and governance issues. Nearly 13% of Olin’s curriculum centers on those issues—similar to previous years—but its ranking in that category fell, indicating an increase in curriculum hours among other schools.

Northwestern University, the China Europe International Business School, Tsinghua University/INSEAD, HEC Paris and ESCP Business School took the top five spots in the 2022 ranking. Rounding out the top 10 were programs including a three-way joint program among HEC Paris, New York University and the London School of Economics; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Chicago; WashU Olin; and the University of Navarra.

Everyone has a busy schedule these days. Whether it’s running kids to soccer practice, taking a full class load, or working 9 to 5, the days are full. It can feel impossible to find any extra time, but a jam-packed schedule shouldn’t cancel out a meaningful career move. It’s possible to find work-life balance and pursue your passion — especially if that passion is a life-changing degree.

This is where an Executive MBA program stands apart from the rest. An EMBA combines the benefits of an experience-based and teamwork-focused program with a schedule that works around students’ lives. Even with a lot going on, students can build the MBA leadership skills that matter most.

More flexibility, more options

If you’ve been wondering about the benefits of an Executive MBA, start by considering its flexibility. For working professionals, a traditional MBA program — typically involving two years of full-time coursework — is a tall order. An EMBA, however, is all about a flexible schedule. Once a month, students attend classes on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Work-life balance is possible with such a concentrated time commitment, so you can still be a working professional, a parent, a caretaker, and whatever you need your life to be, all while being a student as well.

Between classes, students have team meetings, complete take-home exams, or tackle relevant assignments. With these tasks completed outside of the classroom, students can be fully focused while sitting in class with their cohort. Simply put, a flexible program is extremely efficient for MBA skills development. You can still have a life while building the necessary skills.

Even with only three days in class a month, students can find many ways to support their success. Students have the benefit of working in a diverse cohort-basedprogram in two teams, one for the first 10 months of the program and another for the second 10 months. There’s also plenty of one-on-one coaching time to provide individualized mentoring, so encouragement is never far away if a student is feeling lost or overwhelmed.

Those working full time won’t be asked to set aside their work duties, either. At Olin, we want to build meaningful connections between students’ places of employment and the program because an EMBA benefits employers, too. As they progress through their program, full-time working students can expect to learn new skills that can be immediately applied to their workplaces. Employers will benefit from an employee excited to deploy their new skillset to their team, and students will benefit from their employer’s support of their learning — a win-win for all.

The benefits of an EMBA are many, and they stem from one idea: With a flexible programand the support they need, students can achieve so much more.

What sets Olin apart

Students often ask themselves, “what kind of MBA is right for me?” An EMBA program that offers a curriculum with a foundation in experience and data will give students the most benefit in future careers. This is why Olin offers an experiential, values-based, data-driven curriculum.

What does this mean? We want students to get hands-on practice when it comes to weighing facts and figures in the context of principles and impact. MBA leadership skills rely on these foundational ideas so that students can become well-rounded leaders whose decisions are supported by both facts and principles. Students will leave the program understanding the role of data in decision-making, no matter the scale.

This also means a unique learning experience. An Olin EMBA combines world-class faculty, an executive cohort, personalized leadership coaching, and executive career coaching — not to mention immersive experiences, like international residencies. All of these elements emphasize personal investment and one-on-one help.

Prepared to take on the world

What can students expect after they complete their EMBAs? Whatever their interests, they’ll have the skills and experience to achieve their career goals.

It starts with the confidence that an EMBA builds. With strong personal connections built between cohorts, mentors, and professors, students naturally learn from everyone around them. The result? They quickly build confidence in their business skills and acumen. They learn how to strategize and plan for their next steps, all with the support of those closest to them.

With confidence in their new skills, students often step into leadership roles upon completing their program. Students leave prepared to lead teams and infuse them with all the new knowledge they’ve gathered. It makes sense that companies are excited to send their employees to the Olin EMBA program. They know the benefits of an EMBA will be far-reaching, from the employee to the team and to the company overall.

If you’re a full-time working student or parent asking “is an MBA right for me?,” Olin has the answer. The Olin EMBA program combines flexibility, support, real-world experience, and world-class faculty — all in just three classroom days a month. No matter how busy your life may be, the math adds up.

Pictured above: Members of WashU Olin EMBA class 47 at the US Capitol during their Washington, DC, residency in 2017.

Olin Professor Stuart Bunderson teaching an EMBA class at WashU Olin.

If you’re a working professional and considering continuing your education, a large part of your decision to continue studying and what program to pursue is the ROI of an MBA. You want to know what the benefits and potential career impact of an MBA are for you as an individual, not just as a statistic. Once you’ve decided that continuing education is for you, you’ll want to pick a program that fits your needs.

The WashU Olin Business School offers many types of MBA programs. Before you get overwhelmed, consider whether to pursue an executive MBA or a full-time MBA program. In both programs, students can expect to receive a values-based, data-driven, leadership-focused curriculum.

Our full-time program has a subset called the global immersion, in which students travel abroad for six weeks and learn about conducting business in different cultural climates. The full-time MBA program allows students to fully dive into the experiences Olin Business School has to offer through the curriculum. If you’re working, taking care of your family, or have responsibilities that take up most of your day, however, a full-time program might not be the best fit for you.

A better option can be our part-time, leadership-focused Executive MBA program, which meets once a month for three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Students can expect three additional residencies or immersive experiences. The part-time nature of the EMBA allows working professionals to continue working at their jobs while attending university on a flexible schedule compared to the full-time program, in which your “job” is to go to school.

How can pursuing an executive MBA degree affect your career path?

First, students are working with executives from different areas and industries in their cohorts. There is a lot of diversity in the different histories, industries and educational backgrounds of the other students. When diversity is introduced into the student cohort, it helps everyone reconsider their current ways of solving problems because they’re challenged by this new group of intelligent people.

Additionally, the Executive MBA program offers both leadership coaching and career coaching for students. Students can create and implement their own leadership trajectories for their careers. Through executive career coaching, students learn how to communicate their brands to become better leaders.

Finally, the executive network of the student cohort and business partnerships leads students to form a strong group of friendships and alliances with other companies and industries—helping students ultimately build lasting networks that help cultivate more talent going forward. With these partnerships in tow, students can return to their workplaces and make an immediate impact. Students apply what they learn on the job and help grow their own organizations or teams.

The ROI of an EMBA

We’ve hinted about it before, but graduated cohorts have found measurable ROI from their executive MBAstudies. In one of our most recent cohorts, we found that over 50% of that cohort had either been promoted or had switched to a new position during the program. This speaks to the immediate impact of what they were learning; students were able to create value in their workplace and either become promoted or feel confident enough to find their own path.

Olin’s Executive MBA program is about to enjoy its 40th year. Our educators have been constantly crafting, honing, and updating this program to keep it current, fresh and leadership-oriented. We’ve had so many great success stories over the years. Some students have been successful at running their own startups, and others have taken higher positions within their existing companies or their competitors through references from their cohort and professors.

It all comes back to that immediacy of people being able to take what they learn and apply it right away. We often talk about students “having better Mondays:” They return to work after those three days at Olin ready to execute something new they learned in their coursework. Students who embrace what they’re learning can apply these techniques right away to their work and make an impact on their careers, leading to immediate ROI and continual growth throughout their professional lives.

Pictured at top: Olin Professor Stuart Bunderson teaching an EMBA class at WashU Olin.