Don’t Try to Solve Your Mid-Career Crisis With an Executive MBA

Most people in full-time MBA programs are there because they expect a significant salary jump from their next job. Business schools advertise the return on investment their students can expect. Websites aimed at applicants offer ROI calculators. Some B-school rankings award extra points for schools that net their alumni big post-MBA salaries. (Bloomberg Businessweek’s MBA rankings don’t factor in salary outcomes.)

The executive MBA is different. It’s not just a way to move up the pay scale. Employers, who often support EMBA candidates either by paying their managers’ tuitions or offering them time off, do expect a return on their considerable investment—just one that’s not measured only in dollars. Individuals and organizations want to transform themselves in an increasingly competitive market. Cultivating executives who can help them do that is far more valuable than producing managers who make for the next raise.

Companies want their EMBAs to bring fresh insights back to the job, and to be confident and thoughtful enough to make difficult decisions. Keeping this expertise within the corporation is extraordinarily valuable. Last year, during our Oxford EMBA program in India, for example, an American student spent a free afternoon recruiting potential staff for their employer from a Bangalore IT firm. Class peers gave him insight into the local job market and how to recruit the best team. He returned home, mission accomplished...

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