The Need Of The Hour: Industry 4.0 Backed By Executive Education 4.0

The key in contemporary Executive Education is delivering predictable learning outcomes and measurable value in terms of enhanced productivity, performance and leadership exhibited by the participants.

Executive Education is a multi-billion-dollar industry around the world and for good reason. In the West, it is viewed as a key enabler of enhanced organizational performance, talent development, job satisfaction and critically, retention of key people. For the past few decades, it has also gathered momentum in India which is in a historic growth phase and faces critical shortages of talent in multiple industry sectors.  The evolution of executive education has transitioned from blended and e-learning to talent management, continuous and digital learning. 

This ‘boomlet’ in Executive Education can be attributed to three key reasons. The first is the heightened competition for scarce managerial talent, especially in middle and senior management, pressuring many organizations to both to promote younger, less experienced managers into complex positions and simultaneously to integrate formalized career development via various executive development programs into their HR strategies. The second is our fabled ‘demographic dividend’ that makes the Indian workforce one of the youngest in the world. Many firms have responded adroitly by hiring younger [and cheaper] talent and focusing more on ‘on the job’ training. This has effectively broadened the definition of what comprises ‘executive’ education, integrating courses for first time managers, specialized certifications, challenge projects, integrated work and learning packages [ “extended education”] and a host of other innovations. As such, modern executive education is no longer the preserve of senior executives alone but spans all managerial levels of organizations. A third, and arguably the most pressing rationale for an increased commitment to continuous executive learning is the disruptive, technology led the transformation of virtually every business and sector of society. Current jobs are disappearing, prized skill-sets are becoming obsolete at a record pace and new ‘jobs’ -- titles, positions, skills we had never heard of until a few years ago - are becoming very central to the continued success and even existence of many organizations.

Ergo, Executive Education and Professional Development is a new ‘hot area’ --further fueled by a DIY [Do It yourself] movement enabled by MOOC’s and online platforms such as EdX, Coursera, Swayam and numerous others which bring the finest educators in the world to our devices of choice, anytime, anywhere and usually for free……. [at least to the pre-certification stage!]

If that all sounds very routine and rosy for providers of Executive Education --usually universities and Business schools-- then it could not be further from the truth! In reality, the marketplace is very challenging, and success today demands deep investments in faculty, technology infrastructure, and vanguard research-led, multi-disciplinary content. Despite the obvious needs across the board and high potential demand, it is tough to find the right mix of course offerings and price-points in a hyper-competitive and increasingly crowded market. The key in contemporary Executive Education is delivering predictable learning outcomes and measurable value in terms of enhanced productivity, performance and leadership exhibited by the participants.

In turn, this comes from an upfront commitment and continuous investment in three areas of activity:

  1. Keeping an ear very close to the ground in tracking the highest need areas not just currently but in the next 2-3 years [One quick way to gauge the pulse is to carefully study patterns of enrolments and completion in global MOOC   platforms]
  2. Backing up this market intelligence by incentivizing breakthrough applied research and faculty immersion in emerging areas of high need /potential demand. Industry 4.0 needs to be backed by Executive Education 4.0
  3. Adopting an expertly blended and curated learning delivery model that matches the rapidly evolving needs and preferences of the target population. In pedigreed Executive Education offerings, this means seamlessly merging marquee professors with increasingly high-quality video-based and interactive E-learning. This form of blended content creation requires major work from professors with instructional designers, studio shoots and quite literally, TV show levels of production, detail, and expertise.  

Overall, the thrust needs to be on continuously blurring the lines between what is taught in classroom-based advanced management courses and the situations and challenges managers confront in their jobs.   In new institutions such as Shiv Nadar University which have a commitment to lifelong learning partnerships built into their DNA, this is further enabled by technology-mediated experiential learning, simulations, career-defining projects and deep coordination with industry partners. 

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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