EMBA – Is it worth it?

Is an EMBA right for you, as an individual?
Despite all the glory of being adorned with an EMBA degree, this is a matter that cannot be decided purely what is apparent on the surface. I feel it requires a rather serious in-depth study because this is a question that could make or break you. I trust some of the advantages and disadvantages we have highlighted below in this regard, would be helpful to you in trying to shape your future along correct perspectives.

Advantages:
• Unlike traditional MBA students, executive MBAs work full time while earning their degrees.
• Executive MBAs don’t have to wait until graduation to test classroom strategies on the job — they can start straightaway.
• A Top Tier Executive MBA experience consistently receives high rankings from such prestigious journals/magazines as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and Business Week.
• With an EMBA program, you stand to receive an outstanding educational experience that places you among a select group of elite qualified professionals.
• EMBA has a long tradition of producing outstanding leaders including an impressive number of leaders spread over a wide spectrum of S&P 500 and Fortune 1000 organizations.
• Most top companies are likely to sponsor your education, or reimburse or subsidize your costs of education fully, or at least partly. In this economy the sponsorship is tough to get.
• Typically, a class of EMBA students in an average program would number around 70 to 100; as against over 500 in a traditional MBA classroom. Since EMBA is only for more experienced candidates with at least 8-10 years of post qualification experience, you will be moving around and networking with some of the most powerful and influential personalities already employed in some of the biggest companies as CEOs, CFOs and / or senior VPs. Well, it goes without saying that not all schools attract that kind of upper management. So carefully select your school. When networking at high-profile levels, it is the quality of the crowd you move with, that matters, much more than the numbers involved.

Disadvantages:
• Depending on your specialty, the fees structures offered by the leading Universities and other schools in the US to become EMBA qualified ranges between $30,000 to $155,000 per year. Presuming an EMBA course to last an average 1-2 years, you will be spending (investing?) a minimum of something like $100k for acquiring an EMBA.
• The maximum that your employer may grant you is to allow you no pay or half pay or time off during the the duration of the course. Here, the loss of earnings suffered over a long period of time could be a decisive factor in taking the leap.
• On the other hand, some employers who sponsor your EMBA education will require in return an irrevocable commitment from you to serve the company for a specified number of years into the future (which may be at a considerably lower salary than the going market rate for the job category).
• Further, there appears to be a growing trend for key companies to select and sponsor from within their own company staff for EMBA exams rather than recruiting direct from outside. This trend is blocking off the creation of new job opportunities as far as newly qualified EMBA professionals are concerned. It is also a deterrent to those who try to make use of an EMBA qualification for the mere purpose of jumping jobs for better prospects. If this trend were to continue making job opportunities for EMBA professionals, then the attraction for obtaining an EMBA degree will cease to hold.
• In such a scenario, you should be highly cautious against contributing further to the already excessive market supply in the face of the slackening demand for EMBAs in the open job markets. And that too, after making a – large investment on graduating as an MBA!

Conclusions
Due to the phenomenal cost involved (in addition to all the other variables to the equation already discussed above), you need to decide soon whether an EMBA is right for you or not. The exceptionally high cost here (compared to many other equivalent exams) is the most crucial single factor for your final reckoning.

In this regard you may do a simple project evaluation by preparing a projected inflow/outflow statement (duly adjusted for inflation) to compare your initial outflows in years 0, 1 and 2 (the course duration) against the projected inflows in the form of net monetary gains and other (additional) benefits that you may stand to gain in the years ahead (till year infinity!) until you call it a day.

To start with, you may find the current going rates being paid in key companies to EMBA qualified CEOs or CFOs as the case may be, and also what their counterparts with around the same qualifications and experience, but sans an EMBA degree, are in receipt of. The difference in the earning capacities will give you the net gain from passing an EMBA.

Further, if it is considered significant, you may add a reasonable monetary value to represent the intangible gains to you from being EMBA qualified, such as by way of enhanced prestige and goodwill.

The next important factor is to ascertain whether there is truly a continuing or increasing demand for independent EMBA professionals in the open job market. (The demand should also be accompanied by commensurate pay to compensate for the heavy investment already made in terms of finance, time and commitment). The answer to this may be found by scrutinizing relevant job opportunities by searching the web, subscribing to relevant forums and making inquiries from influential people who matter.

Learning is one of the wisest investments, they say; but the type of learning on which you invest has to be ultimately gainful and meaningful to you. If not, the investment is a loss. In coming to a conclusion, you may place special emphasis on the results of your mini project evaluation exercise and a careful study of the existing demand curve for EMBA professionals in the open job market. These two factors could be valid eye-openers for you in arriving at your final decision.

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