The Charisma Of Executive Education: A Key To Empowerment

Every task is challenging, every project and assignment is demanding, and every expectation is mounting. In fact, every relationship – with the self or with those around, is struggling. It, therefore, becomes imperative for the workforce to be updated with the latest happenings and development around.

Change is only that remains constant is a cliché but stands true to the test of any weather even today. Humankind has been evolving since existence. We, humans, have evolved by leaps and bounds in the recent past and the pace in which we are evolving currently is well beyond imagination. Processes, technologies, markets, products, consumers, and competitors change before the blink of an eye. Businesses thrive on the foundation of human and cash capital. In the era of Artificial Intelligence and high-grade innovations, the corporate world has acquired a new avatar. Every task is challenging, every project and assignment is demanding, and every expectation is mounting. In fact, every relationship – with the self or with those around, is struggling. It, therefore, becomes imperative for the workforce to be updated with the latest happenings and development around. Being updated most gives way to inquisitiveness and an appreciation of the need to be equipped in order to sustain in the existing business environment. That is precisely where interventions are required.

Executive Education: The Buzz Word

Executive education has become the buzzword today. Whether it is sharpening an existing skill with the latest in the trends or it is developing a much-required new skill, executive education programmes have a remedy for all. Leading business schools and universities around the globe, including India, have a bouquet of customized as well as standard programmes of varying duration, offered through real and virtual mediums to cater to the ever-rising demand of executive education. These programmes provide working executives with state-of-art concepts and practices in management. Faculty and other resource persons, rich in expertise through research and experience through practice, facilitate and deliver the sessions using a blend of traditional and innovative pedagogical tools ranging from case studies to experiential exercises to simulations and scenario-planning and scenario-handling. Learners are not merely hearing what is being shared but are made to delve deeper into effective listening behavior through active participation.

À la Carte

Whether it is the sales force meeting the demands of the fast-evolving customers, competitors and markets; or it is a manager executing projects successfully thereby making the business scale newer heights; or it is a firm looking for blue ocean strategy; or it is a hardcore successful professional desirous of honing the soft skills; or it is an entrepreneur who is planning to innovate or create, there are programmes suiting almost every need.

Making the Perfect Pick

One needs to understand that executive education is not only for the high-fliers, but it is also the nutrition to be added to the regular diet at regular intervals to create a niche for oneself.

While the need to stay at the pinnacle to triumph in the existing work milieu is rendering into the need for lasting learning, executives and organizations are baffled with deciding on the perfect pick, given the mushrooming of online platforms and a plethora of programmes on offer by diverse providers – business schools, universities, training institutes, professional freelancers and the like. Getting the best in terms of value for money, the return on investment (ROI) in business lingo is at the core of reaching the wisest decision in the choice of programme. One needs to choose programmes offered by credible institutions and brands, which have a potential to provide the learners an edge over the others through their offering. The choice is based on the premise of being more efficacious than one is and of being empowered with information and processes to be able to apply the learning and partake in the fruit of their firm’s success. It goes without saying that this ultimately leads to personal feat (name, fame and wealth).

Right Ingredients in the Right Quantity Lead to Right Concoction

Business schools offering executive education programmes need to choose the right ingredients in the right quantity and blend the right concoction to be served. The curriculum of these programmes is to draw from the prevailing trends in the industry and amalgamate with the groundbreaking developments resulting into an active learning experience. Although programmes with hands-on approach go a long way in the learning process, equally important is the evaluation based on the learning derived from the sessions. Learning with fun is fine as long as the fun incorporates learning. In the absence of a suitable mechanism in place, these programmes might just become just another laurel or another feather in the cap. Assessing participant learning in simple ways using multiple-choice objective-type questions, situation analysis, and presentations ensures more seriousness to these programmes.

3 Es – Education, Experience, Enrichment

Getting back to the classroom should involve discipline in order not to dilute the encounter. Several business schools integrate a lot of self-related activities in the design of these programmes, where learning/wisdom is packaged with a nature walk, exercises, meditation, group tours, and local culture and cuisine exposure. An impromptu exchange in the classroom, informal chats in peer groups, and dialogue with the self in the woods are encounters, which enhance the executive education experience. The enrichment resulting from such education and experience is enduring. 

The Follow-up & Top-up (FT) Mantra

Executive education programmes potentially offer a lasting benefit with due follow up. Institutions offering these programmes should remain connected with the learners even after the programmes. Association of this kind leads to understanding the manner in which the learning derived therefrom is being implemented. Social media platforms make this connection easier and convenient. A glance at the happenings and posts in the learners’ profile promises a glimpse of their lives being implicitly or explicitly transformed through adopting the learnt lessons. Blogs, customized social media pages, and groups ensure a healthy exchange of the work activities and gives an opportunity to share opinions, suggestions and advice on a latent issue one of the members might be facing. Albeit, ensuring the privacy of data is critical in such cases. The participants of the executive education programmes also need to proactively reach their alma mater for fresh inputs at regular intervals. This may be either by connecting with the experts they have interacted with before or by registering for a refresher course as a top up to their executive education programme.

Win-Win Situation

Business schools and universities that offer alumnus status to participants of their executive education programmes have a dual advantage and are able to create a win-win situation for both the participants and themselves. These participants will serve as the connection between the academic and corporate for the existing students who tend to gain through the meaningful insights shared by practitioners. Courses designed with the help of industry stalwarts pave the way to a fulfilling curriculum since it then is a reflection of the expectations of the corporate world. Offerings made in this manner serve as a valuable addition to the kitty of the working executives.

Additionally, the participants of the executive education programme may be made to have interactive sessions with the students of the regular courses in order to develop camaraderie, a mentor-mentee relationship, which will be mutually beneficial. The students of the regular courses will learn from the experiences while these participants will learn to curiosity and inquisitiveness from the students of the regular courses.

This optimism and open-mindedness normally generate from this kind of re-kindling of creativity and energy, which in turn acts as a rejuvenating agent.

Mode of Delivery Does Make a Difference

The availability of augmented technologies has given a plethora of choices in terms of mode of delivery of the executive education programmes. While the traditional real-life classroom still scores higher when it is about learning experiences, the modern online/virtual mode of delivery offers an edge when it comes to costs and busy schedules. In an age of multi-tasking, one is left with no choice but to gear up and catch up with the latest in the industry through virtual classrooms. A number of institutions have made available executive education programmes paced at the learner’s availability and convenience. This characteristic facilitates these platforms to run their courses at a profit.  However, whenever feasible, one should pounce at the available options to join these programmes in the classroom in an educational setting, One can derive information and gain knowledge through both modes; nonetheless, the breathing aura of the live classroom is what makes it unique.

Unlearn the Learnt to Re-learn

Ultimately, it is all about the journey from unlearning the learnt to re-learning. This has to happen at both ends. The executives who decide to enroll in these programmes need to join as a blank slate by deliberately breaking the shackles of their existing knowledge in order to gain meaningful insights from the process. Simultaneously the institutions providing such opportunities are to maintain flexibility in the planning and designing of their curriculum not only in keeping with the industry demands and expectations but also with a sensitization towards the individual requirements. One tends to gain more from executive education programmes with an aim to reach new horizons through the route of desire and action.

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'Nov. 20, 2018' with cover story titled 'BW Education Issue Nov-Dec 2018'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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