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Old 29 January 2020, 12:56
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Executive MBA Programs

Over the past six months I've been actively looking at pursuing an EMBA program. My goal is to gain admittance into a top 5 program.

So far I've gone to an event for Wharton and am scheduled to attend a Haas event this coming month. I have had multiple conversations with Kellogg and spoke to their ED for the Miami campus yesterday. The other schools I'm considering are Booth and Ross. I will be reaching out to them this week.

I will not consider a traditional or online MBA program at this stage in my life/career. The opportunity cost and the network are not valuable enough. Ten years ago, yes. Now, no.


My reasons for pursuing a top-tier EMBA is three-fold:

Network: Be surrounded again by driven, proactive, high-performers and have access to them for life

Career: Create a competitive advantage for me to be considered for senior roles in security OR allow for a career pivot into a business-centric role

Resume: Mint my academic bona fides with an unassailable educational calling card


I have an interest in those particular programs because they have transitioned into a STEM curriculum incorporating Data Science, Analytics, and have quantitative data showing salary increases for their graduates, as well as the fastest ROI figures of all programs, with exception of Darden.

My current professional title doesn't match my actual role, so if any of you looked me up you'd be a little surprised that I spend most of my day working on building metrics, establishing new products and processes to capture data, and am essentially articulating the value of our work to the senior management.

I think my current management team will actively support the schedule, whether it's me being out of pocket for a few days every two, three, or four weeks.

With the above said, has anyone here attended an EMBA program? If so, what were your observations? I am trying to be as prepared as I can be as this will be a major investment for me, and a big hit on family time for two years. My wife is on-board and has said as much.

Looking forward to hearing the good and bad, and downright ugly from everyone here.
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Old 29 January 2020, 13:06
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Sounds great, I would be interested to see how you find the STEM aspect at these kinds of programs. I am truly wondering if at such elite programs you find people that can do it all.
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Old 29 January 2020, 17:36
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I just finished writing a dudes essay for Wharton EMBA and ghost writing a 3 stars letter of rec for him. He was an army guy. Seems like a good program. Hit them up.
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Old 29 January 2020, 21:30
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Ill be at Wharton for a few days next month attending an Executive Education program... Several of the guys leading the discussion(s) are involved in the Wharton EMBA program..

Im not sure that a couple of days will really give me much of a perspective on the quality of the program.. but, Im happy to report back my thoughts and observations after I am I done with the class I am taking..
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Old 31 January 2020, 00:51
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Originally Posted by Xdeth View Post
Sounds great, I would be interested to see how you find the STEM aspect at these kinds of programs. I am truly wondering if at such elite programs you find people that can do it all.
I spoke to someone today who just completed the first year of the EMBA program at Kellogg. Forgot to ask him so I'll circle back on that and get some more insight.

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I just finished writing a dudes essay for Wharton EMBA and ghost writing a 3 stars letter of rec for him. He was an army guy. Seems like a good program. Hit them up.
It is a great program, without a doubt. I'm going to continue talking to them as well. The fact that they have a SF campus is logistically ideal for me. And the name is about as heavy weight as they come.

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Ill be at Wharton for a few days next month attending an Executive Education program... Several of the guys leading the discussion(s) are involved in the Wharton EMBA program..

Im not sure that a couple of days will really give me much of a perspective on the quality of the program.. but, Im happy to report back my thoughts and observations after I am I done with the class I am taking..
Sure thing!

Other folks I know who've attended executive education gave overall excellent reviews.

Someone who wields a bit of juice on this board went to Wharton for executive education - we'll see if he comments on it. I'm always interested to hear more.
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Old 31 January 2020, 01:26
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Someone who wields a bit of juice on this board went to Wharton for executive education - we'll see if he comments on it. I'm always interested to hear more.
Not sure if you are talking about me (juice?), but I did one of those summer executive programs at Wharton.

Instructors were top-notch. Very, very qualified. The students in the program (roughly 30 of us) were all young high-earning up-and-comers in the commercial insurance industry sector, and about 2/3 of us already had MBAs. We were all pretty successful and hard to impress...and they did it.

Lots of focus on leadership theory, and individual studies of the career tracks and contrasting leadership styles of modern-day insurance industry powerhouses like Hank Greenberg, Bill Berkley, and J. Powell Brown. The message was, basically, that there was no "right" way to do things, and that there were several wildly-varying paths to industry leadership success.

I have networked with the Wharton folks way more than any other formal networking group. Got one of my biggest clients through Wharton networking.

Thumbs up.
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Old 31 January 2020, 08:43
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I also attended executive education at Wharton, which included two separate weeks of on campus resident.

The head of their MBA program ran it and it was very good.
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Old 31 January 2020, 17:15
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I have a close friend who is Associate Director of the Executive Masters of Business Administration program at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business.

Would be more then happy to put you in touch with him.
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Old 6 February 2020, 14:31
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I did the full time MBA program at Wharton and had a number of friends who did the EMBA there. Both great programs. One of the nice aspects is that they have a SF campus for the EMBA program.

Obviously there are impacts on the electives you take etc, but the professors are top notch and often the same professors as the full time program.


And if you aren't looking for a career change and thus don't really need to take advantage of the recruiting program, then the EMBA is a great option.


Plus in the EMBA program, the average age and experience level is higher, and entitlement mentalities tend to be lower (they can be really high among some of the younger FT students.)
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Old 7 February 2020, 17:09
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Great input everyone. Thank you for that and keep it coming.
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Old 13 February 2020, 14:53
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I was in the middle of the program at Kellogg when my startup got funded. I had to stop halfway through. Once we built up and later sold the company the private equity company sent me back to the Kellogg AEP Advanced Executive Program. Both programs were outstanding and although this was over 20 years ago I still have contacts from Kellogg. I thought Kellogg's marketing and general management content were outstanding.
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Old 13 February 2020, 18:06
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I should have added, I sent to of my employees to get their EMBAs in the last year. Did it a local state school with a decent reputation.

Great learning experience for both of them and frankly, we benefited tremendously as a company by having them both go through it at the same time.


The only negatives they expressed was reduced number of electives and limitations on areas of focus/specialization relative to a full time program.
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Old 15 February 2020, 14:11
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Originally Posted by Gunk View Post
I was in the middle of the program at Kellogg when my startup got funded. I had to stop halfway through. Once we built up and later sold the company the private equity company sent me back to the Kellogg AEP Advanced Executive Program. Both programs were outstanding and although this was over 20 years ago I still have contacts from Kellogg. I thought Kellogg's marketing and general management content were outstanding.
That's an interesting experience. Thanks for sharing that. From what I've gleaned (very limited) it's really all about the network.

According to my contact there, the course work is supposedly really good and the lesson-learned geared towards practical implementation vs theoretical consideration. He said that the things he learns every month there directly translate into his office the following work day.

What industry are you in now?
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Old 15 February 2020, 14:12
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I should have added, I sent to of my employees to get their EMBAs in the last year. Did it a local state school with a decent reputation.

Great learning experience for both of them and frankly, we benefited tremendously as a company by having them both go through it at the same time.

The only negatives they expressed was reduced number of electives and limitations on areas of focus/specialization relative to a full time program.
Did your company pay for their tuition? That's one of the things I'm looking at - my GI Bill expired two years ago - so some kind of assistance is going to be crucial to cover the mortgage, I mean tuition payment.
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Old 15 February 2020, 16:22
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Did your company pay for their tuition?
This was a big part of my master plan.

I ETS's in 1989 and got my BBA in '93 with my GI Bill. Big public University, with modest tuition. Grand Valley State University.

I set out after graduation to secure a job that would pay for my MBA. I do not come from money (blue collar upbringing) and had to find someone to fund my education, since I had all-but-exhausted my GI Bill with the BBA. I ended up at a firm that is no longer around, Johnson & Higgins. They not only paid full-boat tuition, but they paid for my books, and mileage back and forth to school. Can't find many of these deals any more.

Since I was not footing the bill, I attended a very expensive private Jesuit school for my MBA, University of Detroit.

Got my MBA in '98 at 31 Y/O and was 100% debt free. Never got dime from my parents, who divorced in 1988.

I had to sign a commitment that I would stay for four years after the MBA, but left one year later....sweating that fact that they might pursue me for the ~$58K MBA tab they paid. I negotiated a signing bonus to cover the cost (grossed up for taxes), and the new firm (a bank) paid me a signing bonus. But....because I went to a job that was a client of J&H, they did not pursue me for fear of bringing bad blood to the otherwise-healthy business relationship. I quietly pocketed the bonus and bought my first BMW, re-did our kitchen, and got a couple guns I had been eyeballing.
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Old 15 February 2020, 17:28
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Similar story as DH... except without nearly as nice of a payoff at the end... (no BMW or Jesuit education for mdwest)...

Got my undergrad via the GI bill and working full time while attending school and managed to come out pretty close to debt free...

Waited several years to start an MBA program.. and the company I worked for had a limited tuition reimbursement program.. so I had to be very selective about school choices as I didn’t have enough discretionary funds to really foot much of the bill myself...

It’s taken some time since I’ve had to take classes as there was tuition reimbursement money available as opposed to just charging through B school like a lot of guys do... but I’ve managed to pick up both an MBA and an MS in Strategic Management without coming out of pocket a penny of my own money though...

I just very intentionally sought out employers that placed a high value on education and that offered education benefits... not only do I find those employers to be a great way to help me get to my objective (masters degree), I also find that companies that put that sort of emphasis on helping employees with educational goals have the kind of corporate culture that I most enjoy (take care of your people.. and your people will in turn take care of you and your customers... and if you, your people, and your customers are all taken care of.. the bottom line will largely take care of itself...)
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Old 15 February 2020, 18:50
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This was a big part of my master plan.

I ETS's in 1989 and got my BBA in '93 with my GI Bill. Big public University, with modest tuition. Grand Valley State University.

I set out after graduation to secure a job that would pay for my MBA. I do not come from money (blue collar upbringing) and had to find someone to fund my education, since I had all-but-exhausted my GI Bill with the BBA. I ended up at a firm that is no longer around, Johnson & Higgins. They not only paid full-boat tuition, but they paid for my books, and mileage back and forth to school. Can't find many of these deals any more.

Since I was not footing the bill, I attended a very expensive private Jesuit school for my MBA, University of Detroit.

Got my MBA in '98 at 31 Y/O and was 100% debt free. Never got dime from my parents, who divorced in 1988.

I had to sign a commitment that I would stay for four years after the MBA, but left one year later....sweating that fact that they might pursue me for the ~$58K MBA tab they paid. I negotiated a signing bonus to cover the cost (grossed up for taxes), and the new firm (a bank) paid me a signing bonus. But....because I went to a job that was a client of J&H, they did not pursue me for fear of bringing bad blood to the otherwise-healthy business relationship. I quietly pocketed the bonus and bought my first BMW, re-did our kitchen, and got a couple guns I had been eyeballing.
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Similar story as DH... except without nearly as nice of a payoff at the end... (no BMW or Jesuit education for mdwest)...

Got my undergrad via the GI bill and working full time while attending school and managed to come out pretty close to debt free...

Waited several years to start an MBA program.. and the company I worked for had a limited tuition reimbursement program.. so I had to be very selective about school choices as I didn’t have enough discretionary funds to really foot much of the bill myself...

It’s taken some time since I’ve had to take classes as there was tuition reimbursement money available as opposed to just charging through B school like a lot of guys do... but I’ve managed to pick up both an MBA and an MS in Strategic Management without coming out of pocket a penny of my own money though...

I just very intentionally sought out employers that placed a high value on education and that offered education benefits... not only do I find those employers to be a great way to help me get to my objective (masters degree), I also find that companies that put that sort of emphasis on helping employees with educational goals have the kind of corporate culture that I most enjoy (take care of your people.. and your people will in turn take care of you and your customers... and if you, your people, and your customers are all taken care of.. the bottom line will largely take care of itself...)
Both of you have been tremendously successful although you downplay it a lot. Since you're both now in charge of your companies, how do you view tuition assistance to others, especially someone like me who could be an outside-hire asking for assistance?

I've had some conversations about the topic with a few businesses and all seem to be onboard with assistance. The problem is that the assistance often would be great if I were pursuing an undergraduate state college, not so much if I'm looking at a $150-220k EMBA investment.

Principally, I'm a loyal employee, as long as I am treated well and there's no rampant stupidity or nepotism that's hindering my progression. Therefore, if a company is offering me the opportunity to grow professionally, allows and funds me (partialy or completely) to go to school (most EMBA programs require either one 4 day, or two 3-day blocks per month, as well as a commitment from the employer that work will not inhibit attendance), I am all good with committing myself to 2 years after graduation.

How would you want to be approached by someone in my shoes?
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Old 15 February 2020, 23:25
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For me, other than clerical level hires, I dont want anyone on the payroll that interviews for the job they actually want..

I want the guy that is willing to do the job I am currently offering.. but that wants my job (or one of the executive team members jobs)..

If applicants dont come to the table with the sort of drive and determination that I think it takes to sit on the executive team some day, I dont want them in a leadership position at any level..

raw talent and determination isnt enough to get people into senior leadership though.. I know that if we want people to achieve their full potential, we're going to have to invest in them.. we're going to need to train them.. we're going to need to help them build their networks.. we're going to need to help most of them expand their knowledge base, etc..

If an employee is willing to invest the time and energy it takes to hold down a job with us (rarely does anyone in our firm work a flat 40 hour week) while also pushing through a masters program... then we're more than happy to invest the time and money in the employee to help them achieve the goal.. I think its a win-win.. we'll give them the time off they need to attend the program (we have members of our middle, senior, and executive level leadership teams pursuing additional education as I type this..)... and we'll contribute a bit toward the cost (IRS max)..

All of that said.. for ME.. while a top 5 MBA certainly is personally attractive, and I'd love to do it if I could go back and start all over again.. whether or not its really worth a $150-$220K investment I think really depends on what industry(s) youre looking at, and where you are in your career...

For example, in my industry, MBA's are not all that common.. and while a Harvard/UPenn/Yale MBA would certainly set you apart from the rest of the herd.. frankly, an MBA from the Univ of Arkansas puts you in a completely different category than most other candidates we come across when looking for people to work in our corporate HQ...

Most guys in my industry, if they have a masters degree, have them in National Security Studies, Strategic Studies, International Relations, or a host of other things... BUSINESS is NOT all that common..

Ivy League business degrees are straight up rare... even at the mega firms and even among the senior executives..

So for ME.... Im not sure the juice is worth the squeeze..

Thats not to say I wouldnt look very hard at any vet with the right military leadership under his belt and a Wharton MBA..

Im just saying a vet with the right military leadership under his belt with a UVA MBA is also going to be very intriguiging and is also going to get an interview.. and if his interview goes better.. the Wharton MBA and the associated network is no guarantee of winning the day..

In other industries like finance, banking, tech, insurance, etc.. top tier B schools make a serious diffference.. you could easily make that $150K investment back in a matter of just a few years.. it will open doors that would otherwise be closed.. and potentially increase upward mobility by a huge margin..

But in some industries (like mine).. while valuable, it might not be as valuable as you would think..

Check out the bios of the senior exec teams at these companies (some of the biggest and most prominent in defense).. there are a handful of Ivy MBA's.. but not many.. and even fewer from top 5 MBA programs..

https://www.northropgrumman.com/leadership/

https://www.pae.com/leadership

https://www.dyn-intl.com/about-di/leadership/
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Old 16 February 2020, 08:36
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Tremendous insight MDW, thank you.
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Old 16 February 2020, 11:23
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something I should be clear on...

we ABSOLUTELY value higher education, and specifically business education..

we probably just dont pay as much attention to where the education came from as other companies in other industries..

Among our 5 person "executive" team.. there are (off the top of my head):

3x MBA's
2x MS in business related fields (Management, Project Management)
2x MS in other fields (Information Systems, International Security Studies)
3x BA's in business related fields
3x BA's in non business related fields..

With only one exception, everyone on the executive team holds at least 1 masters in a business field.. 3x members of the executive team hold multiple masters.. and everyone holds a pretty wide range of additional certifications such as PMP, Six Sigma Black Belt, CPA, CMA, CFE, etc..etc..

We also invest a good bit in "executive education".. I've done EE programs at Rutgers, Cornell, and have recently finished a short course at Wharton.. Im sending another exec to Wharton later this year.. and other guys have attended EE programs at William and Mary, UVA, Old Dominion, etc..
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