EMBA can be a strategic investment for working professionals during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The deadly pandemic has taught business schools just like everyone else that everything can change suddenly and dramatically, says Dr Gary Stockport, dean and professor strategy at S P Jain School of Global Management. Dr Stockport has also designed, directed and taught EMBA courses across the world. In an exclusive interview with EducationWorld, he talks about the scope of EMBA and how it helps build critical thinking as well as decision making skills in a context of uncertainty and ambiguity. Excerpts:
How does EMBA help upskill the working professionals?
Doing an EMBA is an all-round generalist training to enable students to become better general managers. This enables managers to approach issues from multiple perspectives such as from accounting, finance, marketing, human resources and strategy points of view. Consequently, students learn to put on many ‘hats’ when diagnosing problems and proposing solutions. All-in-all, doing an EMBA provides a platform for becoming a more effective leader. An EMBA is and will continue to be an invaluable qualification to highlight on a person’s CV and LinkedIn profile.
How is EMBA helping graduates deal with the economic crisis during the COVID-19 situation?
An EMBA teaches students to always be positive and proactive when leading and managing change. Linked to this is the ability to scenario plan about possible futures including building worst case and best case scenarios. In reality, external shocks are nothing new. Just think of the Dotcom bust (2002), SARS (2003) and the Global Financial Crisis (2008-2009). The 10th outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been ongoing since August 2018. It is not a case trying to predict when these will happen but rather trying to determine the probabilities of likely events happening and then what to do when they do happen. This is when doing an EMBA proves invaluable as they sharpen decision making and implementation acumen. There is a body of theory and practice about Turnaround Management which is considered within an EMBA.
Considering the present COVID-19 situation and experts from WHO warning that COVID is here to stay, how do you think EMBA can prepare the professionals for future?
An EMBA provides the right training to help a manager cope with any context currently or in the far future. Effective leaders will likely create the future as well as be shaped by it. On the SP Jain EMBA programme, one benefit of Covid-19 has resulted in soft skills professional development sessions being offered via Zoom across campuses e.g. with Dubai and Mumbai EMBA students learning together. This has consequently opened up opportunities for students to network more widely. Thus, there are positives within any context.
What is the scope for EMBA in India?
The scope for EMBA within India is very big in both the face-to-face and online formats. Regardless of the current Covid-19 situation, India will be one of the global growth engine countries of the world over the next 30 years. Indian students have a big appetite for learning particularly from globally branded business schools and highly regarded EMBA courses. As technology continues to improve to help mimic the physical classroom experience, the online EMBA will likely become increasingly popular.
How’s EMBA designed differently from MBA?
An EMBA is designed for working professionals who need to study part-time. Consequently, flexibility is built into the design, scheduling and delivery of the course. EMBA students bring many years of rich learning experiences into the classroom and they benefit from the applied assignments which are included within most (if not all) courses. As a result, there are immediate and transferable benefits to the students and their employers throughout their studies.
A recent trend in EMBA has been work-based assignments/applied assignments. Could you shed some light on it?
Applied assignments have been taking COVID-19 into consideration. For example, an assignment in the Strategic Brand Management elective required students to think about how brands and branding could be influenced in their chosen industry in the COVID-19 and post COVID-19 era. In Business Strategy & Sustainability core course, students were required to develop a strategic plan within a much shorter and turbulent time frame. This in-turn linked to identifying and developing crucially important dynamic capabilities for building a sustainable competitive advantage. COVID-19 has emphasised the importance of doing an EMBA during a time of turbulence. Doing an EMBA is the best strategic investment decision that a person will likely ever make.