It is very difficult to embrace change from within an organization. As Isaac Newton said, “Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest.” Whether because of financial metrics, a short-term focus, a silo mentality, or a host of other status quo-promoting factors, it is tough to move upward or in a new direction. A fresh look from outsiders brought inside can aid in transforming your culture into a change-oriented and even change-driven one.
The challenge is finding those outside change agents. The reality is that they are everywhere! Probably the largest pool of talent is the army of experienced business professionals who have earned their executive MBAs (EMBAs). The knowledge they have gained through their EMBA courses is certainly important, but their true value goes much deeper. Here are the eight reasons you should hire them:
1. Real-World Corporate Experience
First, by the very nature of EMBA programs, the vast majority of students already have real-world, corporate experience; in fact, the average EMBA graduate has 16 years of total corporate experience, and 79% have director-level or higher titles.
They have seen firsthand what works and doesn’t work in their corporate environment. As they attend classes, they can easily recall past experiences and retrospectively think about how things might have been handled differently. Those lessons will immediately come to mind when similar situations arise in the future.
2. Dedication and Time-Management Skills
Second, most EMBA students attend classes while still maintaining their full-time positions. Attending class sessions and completing the outside work assignments are not for the faint of heart. Balancing both requires an incredible amount of dedication and over-the-top time management. These skills are part of a student’s DNA and will carry over into any new challenging position they undertake.
3. A Focus on Results
EMBA students are results-driven. Their entry into an EMBA program is voluntary—they are undertaking this challenge to better themselves. “Wallflowers” or “hangers-on” do not participate. The personal results-driven nature of EMBAs carries over into their results-driven focus in their corporate assignments.
4. An Appreciation for Diversity
The coursework in EMBA programs is based upon small group activities. Those groups of students have different backgrounds, held different positions, and certainly have different levels of experience. As they work together, their horizons widen simply due to their interaction with a new group of colleagues who provide them with a much wider point of view.
5. A Strong Network of Executives
The group friendships and reliance on “strangers” often continue well after graduation. As students follow diverse paths, many stay in contact, widening their circle of relationships like ripples in a pond.
It is not uncommon for past students to reach out to their former colleagues to ask for and receive independent and objective advice. The trusted relationships they created during the long hours of classroom and project preparation carry over long after the curriculum has been completed.
6. A Broad Understanding of Business Environments
The subject matter in an EMBA program exposes students to multiple facets of business they may not have been exposed to in their “day jobs.” The material used, whether it is case studies or taught by instructors who have “real-world” experience, brings a dose of reality to the classes.
In fact, the average EMBA graduate has more than nine identified transferable skills. As every experienced business leader knows, there are seldom binary, “yes/no” decisions. Instead, there are always short-term and long-term consequences, degrees of freedom, and alternative paths that need to be considered. A broad-based understanding of the entire business environment helps make these gray-area decisions.
7. Wisdom Gained
As a result of the previous six items, EMBA students develop wisdom. Stepping back for a moment, consider the age-old statement, “Education teaches one how to spell experience.” Certainly, the EMBA curriculum provides the “education” portion of the statement.
However, melding that education with their past experience and the shared experiences of others allows them to expand and develop more valuable insight. This notion is captured by expanding the previous statement to: “Education teaches one how to spell experience, and wisdom is gained by knowing when to ignore experience!”
Ignoring experience, on the surface, may seem counterintuitive. However, relying totally on experience is similar to driving with total focus on the rearview mirror. Although occasional glances backward are prudent, looking ahead and planning for the unexpected and constantly making course corrections are the only ways to strive and thrive.
8. A Passive Pool of Candidates
Not only are EMBAs highly qualified for leadership positions, but 87% of them are also exploring leadership opportunities. Communities of EMBAs are ripe for sourcing leadership candidates and are currently being exploited by savvy executive recruiters who understand the unique skill set EMBAs can provide.
Although many EMBA graduates can continue to make valuable contributions to their current employers, they can usually make far more valuable contributions in a new setting. Armed with what they have learned and their experience, they develop wisdom through objective, unbiased views.
In this setting, they can help a company grow and adapt—the keys to a company’s long-term success. Bring an outside EMBA inside, and watch a new level of thinking about the business blossom.
|Tom Berger is an Adviser for GeniusMesh, a recruiting technology company and provider of executive-level hiring solutions. Berger started his career as an engineer (BSEE and MSEE) working for large companies for 22 years, including 17 years with Motorola working in engineering, sales, product management, marketing, and business development. He left Motorola and was one of the founders of a joint venture between Motorola and IBM, which built out and ran the world’s largest wireless data network.
Berger then began a journey in the start-up world running 7 different venture capital-backed companies that were sold for over $260 million. For the past 8 years, Berger has been coaching start-ups and private companies. Those efforts have been with over 40 different companies and 40 different entrepreneurs. He has 8 U.S. patents, 6 of which were sold to Google.