- Mid-career managers need new grooming
Most founders of business enterprises, conglomerates and industries in Nepal might not have even heard of management schools. In fact, business schools did not exist during their times. Apparently, our forefathers did not feel the need for such institutions either. They were real entrepreneurs who grabbed daunting opportunities and worked upon them with utmost dedication for decades. Most business empires today owe their phenomenal growth to their forefathers who kept on toiling in the face of formidable challenges and failures. Real-life experience was their teacher.
No longer so. MBA became a fad in Nepal years ago and still remains so to a large extent amongst youngsters. But Executive MBA (EMBA) is gaining prominence gradually. It allows one to pursue advanced studies while retaining the job.
Most parents in our part of the world fund higher education for their children till they land jobs. We find most of our graduates trying to do an MBA course from a reputed institution to gain entry into the corporate world. A reasonably good student manages to complete his/her MBA degree/diploma by the time s/he is 25 or 26 years of age.
This is unlike the West where most students work and finance their own higher education. According to published research, EMBA aspirants in the USA have 14 years of varied work experience including nine years of management background before they enter the portals of a prestigious B-school. The average entry age for EMBA there is 38 years. The course demands extreme rigour and dedication from the learners because they study while continuing with their jobs. Classes are usually held on weekends and weeknights, with a few days of deeply immersive education with compressed coursework.
Both corporates and B-school faculties feel that EMBA staff/students are far more capable of understanding and imbibing what is taught or discussed in the classrooms compared to those who join MBA courses without any work experience. In plain MBA, classroom teaching remains largely an academic exercise. For example, a graduate doing an MBA will find it difficult to relate to concepts in production management if he has never spent time on the shop floor of a factory. Similarly, he will find it cumbersome to come to grips with operations management issues if he has never been involved in the creation and delivery of any service.
On the contrary, EMBA aspirants/students having considerable work experience in their respective fields and wish to understand their chosen aspects of business better, will be on the lookout for advanced and practical business knowledge which they can gain through several elective papers available in good EMBA courses.
Therefore, it must have become obvious to the readers that an EMBA would focus less on business basics and more on the intricacies and current challenges in management with a clear leadership perspective. Already endowed with real-world experience, those who complete EMBA are usually in line for higher positions requiring leadership skills.
The discourses and discussions in the EMBA class are of a higher level as all students have already spent several years in business organisations. One gets real-world advice not just text book notes. Interaction with industry experts does add value to the course. Often, classmates turn out to be better knowledge providers than the faculty. Cross-fertilisation of proven ideas is a regular occurrence. The networking thus achieved is EMBA’s unnoticed boon.
Considering the potential RoI from an employee pursuing EMBA, some companies sponsor outstanding staffers for the course. The sponsor stands to benefit because the employee often introduces and executes in the company what he is learning. This happens because the student with the wealth of his experience and age is more mature than a plain MBA who needs considerable time to understand the objectives and work culture of a company.
Some executives join EMBA with the idea of launching a startup. My best wishes to them but with a note of caution. It would be rather naïve to launch a new venture during the course as both of them need your full-fledged attention and you must remain an honest employee too. Moon-lighting is unethical and doesn’t pay in the long run.
One can say with conviction that EMBA is emerging as a win-win deal for mid-career employees, entrepreneurs, companies and business-promoting bodies in Nepal. The business world is viewing the course as an amalgamation of employee excellence and professionalism. Nepal’s corporates can add value to this promising educational avenue by enhancing interaction with business management faculty. A beginning can be made by facilitating research work by management scholars and faculty. This will enable the gurus to align their classroom offerings with the dynamic needs of the country’s industry and economy. Professionalisation of Nepal’s management human resource brooks no delay.