BUSINESS EDUCATION | Executive Education March 21, 2006

The jewel in the Exec Ed crown

Author: Matt Symonds, Editor, TopExecEd Guide

For executives rising to the challenge of a fast-changing world, it's when not if you attend an Advanced Management Executive Program.

If you are a senior manager looking to spend time out of the office for a little self-assessment, to take stock of your career achievements to date and reflect on the role that you can play to shape the future of your organization, to think hard about the need for innovative strategies and implementing change, and gain the confidence and courage to implement that change by developing a greater understanding of yourself as a leader, then you're probably a suitable candidate for the flagship of executive education, the General Manager Program.

Commonly referred to as the Advanced Management Program (AMP) or Senior Executive Program (SEP), the General Manager Program is the most popular training option destined for those who have, or will shortly move into a leadership role in their organization. The programs guide high potential senior managers through the transition required to take on a strategic leadership role for their business. Participants have at least ten, but often fifteen or more years of management experience, either as senior functionalist managers, general managers with profit-and-loss responsibility, company owners or non­profit and government leaders.

Tim Morris, COO of Oxford Executive Education describes the typical participant in their four-week long AMP at Templeton College. "The typical Oxford AMP participant is a senior executive who has, or is about to assume, a leadership role within his or her organization. We often see functional or technical experts joining a company in their twenties and then following the AM P as an alternative to the Executive M BA. If you have been selected for an AM P, it is a clear signal from the company that they are going to invest in you to build your human capital. Companies want to hold on to top talent, and are looking for ways to build loyalty. To achieve this companies will need to offer a suite of programs through your 20s, 30s and 40s."

This carefully selected peer group will spend from two to nine weeks engaged in an interactive, intensive and truly international program. Courses on Value Creation, Financial Management, Organizational Effectiveness and Leading across Cultures transform individuals into truly globally minded executives with highly tuned strategic and analytical skills, whose new improved ability to see the big picture creates a sustainable competitive advantage for the company.

Demand for such programs is showing signs of an increase. Ethan Hanabury, Associate Dean at the Columbia Business School reports that applications for the most recent Columbia Senior Executive Program was up by over 30% on last year, and had a wait list For Hanabury, the SEP offers senior professionals who are two or three levels below the CEO the kind of outside perspective that they need. "They can get out of the day-to-day, away from the urgent, and focus on what's important. For us this is one of the most gratifying courses to deliver. The program is focused on experiential action-oriented learning, and is a chance to see successful individuals step back, and learn new things about themselves."

Though it sounds too good to be true, the testimonial from such worldly-wise program participants is singularly resounding. Mike Matteo is a Vice President at Uniprise, in the health care benefits industry. He was convinced of the benefits of his Executive Development Program at Columbia Business School. "I can say that due to this program I am much better prepared to add value to my company, but more importantly to help others add more value as well. One of the most significant programs I have taken in my career, a significant competitive edge for my company".

Certainly the current emphasis on leadership training and concerns about ensuring the succession of the organization is filling the business school classrooms. Many programs are booked several months in advance. The investment is not insignificant (see table), ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 for a month or two of learning. So what are participants and institutions getting for their money?

For Alan Kingsley, a partner at KPMG in London, and alumnus of the AM P at the Wharton School, it was invaluable to be away from the workplace and think about how to meet the challenges of increasing complexity and organizational transformation. "It is important to have a five-week spell to step out of the office. The program is very broadly based and genuinely international It has given me the confidence and knowledge to discuss issues at a higher level with clients."

The pragmatic approach to learning combines the theory of the business school with the practice of the company's future agenda. The learning style is resolutely interactive, including debate and shared experience with a group of high achievers, and involving the leading faculty and business leaders. Students are engaged for up to fourteen hours a day, five or six days a week. Even lunch can provide the opportunity to share the perspective of prominent business professionals who lead an exchange of ideas with participants. In the Oxford Advanced Management Program, one of the oldest in Europe, participants are constantly learning from the different sectors and cultures represented in the classroom, in sessions that help to understand critical cultural differences. This approach also applies to traditional business functions. Areas such as Finance, Marketing, Information Management and Organizational Behaviour are looked at with multiple functional perspectives, not in isolation.

This broader understanding also helps students to better understand the functions of their colleagues back at the office, in relation to their own role. Barry Buxbaum, Director of Saab Cars comments, "The curriculum was clearly broad, with session on strategic planning, market driven strategies, finance and ethics — and it even had poetry, for crying out loud. It was fascinating."

As with all executive education, organizations want to see tangible results and a return on the training investment Participants are compelled to analyze their own performance, making the learning process more relevant and applicable to sponsors. At Ashridge in the UK, participants begin discussing their learning needs with their superior two months before the program begins, prepare a presentation on their changing work situation (personally and for the organization), and experience 360? feedback from their work colleagues, fed back to them 1 on 1 by an Ashridge coach to help them focus on individual strengths and development needs.

Participants return to the work environment mentally refreshed, with enhanced leadership skills to motivate teams and lead people to ambitious goals. They have also had the chance to challenge conventional wisdom, to take risks in an experiential learning environment and try out new ideas in confidential discussions with their peer group.They are not only thinking, but they're also thinking about how they are thinking. In the space of just a few weeks they will have acquired the equivalent of years of experience.

Name of School Type of Program Program Location Cost Target Audience Program Length
AshridgeAdvanced Management Programme London, UK £13,995 with accommodation. Experienced top-tiered manager. 2 x 2 week sessions
Columbia Business School Senior Executive Program New York, USA $36,000 with accommodation Senior Executives with a lot of "professional success" 4 week intensive program
Duke University — Fuqua Advanced Management Program North Carolina, USA $26,500 with accomodations Managers with at least 15 years experience 2 x 2 week sessions over 2 month period
Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program Cambridge, USA $52,500 with accommodation +15 years of management experience, typically in organizations with annual revenues of +$100 million 9 week intensive program
IE (Instituto de Empresa) and Chicago GSB GSMP — Global Senior Management Program Barcelona, Spain 20,000 euros with accommodation Senior managers with +10 years of experience Modular — 3 weeks over 3 months
Iese Business School Advanced Management Program Barcelona, Spain 26,800 euros with accommodation Top-tiered management with +10 years senior management experience. 4 week-long modules
IMD Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives (BPSE) Geneva, Switzerland CHF 25,000 without accommodation 42-50 years of age, holding general or other senior management postions. 2 week intensive program
INSEAD Advanced Management Programme Fontainebleau, France 26,000 euros Senior executives with +15 years’ management experience. 4 week intensive program
London Business School Senior Executive Programme London, UK £18,490 with accommodation Senior managers with 10-15 years of experience, between 35-56 years old 4 week intensive program
Melbourne Business School Senior Management Program Melbourne, Australia AUS$8,075 Senior decision maker with +8 years experience at senior level 1 week intensive program
Northwestern University — Kellogg Advanced Executive Programme Illinois, USA $30,000 with accommodation Senior Executives with +15 years of management experience 4 week intensive program
Stanford GSB Stanford Executive Program Palo Alto, USA $44,900 with accommodation +15 years of management experience, typically in organizations with annual revenues of +$100 million 6 week intensive program
Tuck School of Business Tuck Executive Program Hanover, USA $28,500 with accommodation Senior executives who have achieved / about to achieve, major responsibility 3 week intensive program
University of Michigan Business School Executive Program Michigan, USA $29,800 with accommodation Upper-level management with some years of experience 4 week intensive program
University of Oxford — Saïd The Oxford Advanced Management Programme Oxford, UK £20,000 with accommodation Senior executives who have achieved / about to achieve, major responsibility 4 week intensive program
University of Toronto — Rotman Director's Education: Enhancing your capablities Toronto, Canada CAN$12,000 +10 years of business experience Modular — 4 weeks over 4 months
University of Pennsylvania Wharton Advanced Management Program Philadelphia, USA $37,800 with accommodation 7-25 years of experience, between 40-50 years old 5 week program, 6 days a week

Students may even have shed a few pounds whilst on the program. Fitness sessions and aerobic workouts often make up part of the schedule, as schools stress the importance of physical well being which underlies professional performance. Many schools include sessions on work life balance, whilst the Columbia Business School offers meditative practice. So does a healthy body go hand in hand with a healthy mind, or at least a mind that is ethically sound? At IESE in Barcelona, programs are designed to help participants to achieve personal fulfillment and emphasize the human, ethical and social dimensions inherent in corporate leadership. Rory Simpson, Director of International Executive Education at the school, says explains that the program is "designed to enhance knowledge and management skills, and to view the ever-changing landscape in all dimensions and perspectives."

The perspective will certainly be very international. At the Stanford Executive Program only 30% of the class are from North America. Over 37% of the participants come from Europe, 17% from Asia, and 16% from the Middle East and Africa. Similarly the Wharton school has more European students — 40% — than students from North America — only 25%.

At the London Business School, 75 nationalities have participated in their SEP since its inception in 1966.

The business schools work with sponsoring organizations as part of a careful selection process. At the Harvard Business School, participants should be nominated for the program by their CEO, a divisional president or a senior HR Director. Schools are looking at the individual's past achievements, their current responsibilities, and their upward mobility. Company sponsorship and financial support suggest to the school that the candidate is considered to be an outstanding prospect for leadership within the organization. In addition to a fluent level in English, candidates should convey a genuine understanding of their developmental needs.

And at the end of the program, the participant is then granted automatic membership to the school alumni association. Schools like INSEAD boast over 28,000 alumni worldwide, with whom they maintain a regular contact You can expect to receive school newsletters and publications, and be invited to attend annual regional forums.

ManyAMPand SEP alumni refer to their time on the program as a life-changing experience. As a participant at the Oxford AMP explains, "It's the extra bits, all taken together that make the difference. The discussions outside the class have been as valuable as the formal sessions."

Other alumni, now the CEOs and Presidents at the top of the corporate ladder are a little more wistful They see the AMP as the last formal executive education they are likely to experience. After that, they have to educate themselves.

"I expected a lot when I signed the check for my tuition. I expected the best faculty, they were. I expected to be challenged, I was. I expected to learn, I did.

What I definitely didn 't expect was to spend one of the greatest months of my life here. This, without a doubt, has been the greatest educational experience I have been involved in. You have changed me."

Robert Bacon
President, Elm Electrical, Inc.
Columbia SEP

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