www.bweducation.com | November 27, 2018
The premier business schools world over offer Executive Education programs, usually over a few days, but sometimes year-long. By doing so, they also deepen their corporate contacts, and ensure that their own business faculty is in close touch with the changing business environment, and indeed, that they remain ahead of the curve.
Education is a lifelong process, and the more dynamic a working environment, the truer this is. In today’s business world, rapid changes are taking place, with a high rate of obsolescence of knowledge and practices. Specializations frequently need to be upgraded, as technology alters or completely transforms ways of doing things. From marketing to music to food and beverage and transport- disruption is everywhere. Meanwhile, social media has become a key component of many business operations. Soft skills also are no longer optional but are especially necessary for a global workplace that is full of diverse interaction. Employees need to be sensitive to issues of gender and social and cultural identity, among others- and trained accordingly. Having cross-functional skills is also mandated; an IT professional needs to have a good grasp of design, a finance professional must be aware of psychology and behavioral trends and so on. Finally, as our workplaces become inherently closer communities, thanks to enhanced means of communication, all types of professionals need to be on the same page, with mutual understanding and a shared vision. Each professional needs to be able to appreciate the problems faced by others. So companies are now realizing the importance of a ‘T-shaped’ executive, possessing both depth and breadth of skills and understanding.
What this means, is that the modern business executive must be constantly reinventing himself or herself and that an organization which values its own growth, and its employees’, will support this process. This is where the concept of Executive Education comes in. Executive Education consists of programs wherein top business academics and leaders add value to working executives, to push them towards the next level, in one way or the other. This could consist of leadership training for middle-level managers, teaching the use of psychometric tools to HR managers, crisis management training, critical thinking training, training in negotiation and the best techniques of communication and persuasion, something which is essential in every aspect of the business, and so on.
For this reason, the premier business schools the world over offer Executive Education programs, usually over a few days, but sometimes year-long. By doing so, they also deepen their corporate contacts, and ensure that their own business faculty is in close touch with the changing business environment, and indeed, that they remain ahead of the curve. This feeds back into the quality of business education that is offered to students as well. Similarly, conducting Executive Education programs is a way for leading corporate professionals to shape and direct the business environment as a whole, and to become change-makers at a very large scale.
But in addition to these, a necessary link in the chain for the success of Executive Education is the outlook of business organizations. It is important for organizations to encourage and support Executive Education for their employees, both financially and logistically. This has a plethora of benefits. Growing executives translate into a growing organization. The corporate culture is transformed into a culture of not only doing but learning. Further, employees who are helped to participate in such programs become more motivated, with a greater sense of ownership, and a more nuanced sense of the business environment. They are better able to collaborate, as well as delegate. They also naturally become closer to their organizations. On the other hand, employees who are not encouraged to undergo Executive Education might either atrophy or start to consider their career options- since talent is highly mobile in a knowledge economy.
Executive Education is also a way to foster a leadership pipeline – thus, not only retaining talent but helping an organization to appreciate the likely growth paths of its employees. In a nutshell: investing in human capital pays all kinds of dividends.
In the Indian context, we have seen a sharp growth of Executive Education programs in recent times, which is a welcome sign. Global providers have also made their presence felt. However, the general interest in the area also creates an opportunity for shoddy or exploitative offerings. Therefore, it is important for all stakeholders to know what to look for in a quality Executive Education program. Firstly, the reputation and credibility of the particular University or Institute and the standing of the concerned faculty must be gauged. Second, such a program must deliver clarity on the Return on Investment (ROI) for participants, in terms of skills that they can apply to impact their work and organizations. Third, Executive Education shouldn’t follow a cookie-cutter approach; it needs to be capable of customization to the needs of different individuals and companies. Fourth, it should use technology and technological advancements effectively, as appropriate to the area, in a blended learning model. Finally, it must be at the cutting-edge of developments in the area, including globally. Only such an Executive Education is a genuine advantage to working professionals.
To conclude, the ongoing education of business executives is more essential today than ever before, in light of globalized business practices and the innovations and disruptions of technology. Organizations should think accordingly and make Executive Education part of their working culture, for the sake of their own viability as well as their employees. Meanwhile, institutions organizing such programs must possess credibility and show an understanding of the concrete realities of modern business.