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Executive Education Programs: Helping Companies Keep up With Change

Photos: Courtesy of ASHE

I have served as the leader of a nonprofit for the past decade. Because of pervasive changes driven by political and economic factors as well as technological advances, I determined that I wanted to advance my management education. I turned to executive education to answer this call.

Organizations and industries are evolving faster than their executives. Changes in technology, economy and policy are impacting the way we do business. Therefore, senior managers and executives are returning to the classroom to brush-up on skills or learn new ones. Colleges and universities offer a variety of programs and workshops for individuals to invest in advanced education and leadership training on everything from astrophysics to business negotiations. Single courses, as well as complete degree programs, are opportunities for executives to learn new skills while also networking with other leaders. Programs like these ensure that companies have talented management to successfully lead businesses and employees.

Specific to needs

James Soto Antony, Faculty Director of the Higher Education Program for Harvard University, said, “Most universities now understand that having a broad impact — the kind that is in a scale that makes a big difference — requires strategies that go beyond what happens in traditional classroom and degree-program settings.” Antony teaches in one of Harvard’s programs that educates a variety of individuals on and off campus, and states that: “Executive and professional education opportunities allow a university to shape the development of a diverse array of people who otherwise would not come to that campus for a full-blown degree program. Executive programs can be timely, highly specific to a sector’s and an individual learner’s needs, and can be delivered using modalities that make learning convenient and highly accessible.”

Executive education programs are typically offered in two format types: short-term courses, which are sometimes called “business boot camps” and offer workshops and certificates,  or longer, multi-term degree-granting curricula. Executive education programs are designed for working professionals to develop needed skills in areas like leadership development, negotiation, strategy, finance and communication, although the offerings are endless. All the while, execs do not relinquish their day jobs while going back to school.


Programs can be face-to-face, online or a hybrid of the two, like in the case of the Global Executive MBA at Duke University. April Morley, a recent graduate of the program, selected Duke’s option because of the flexibility for working professionals. She was able to continue working in Austin, Texas, while going to school in short-term international residency formats coupled with an online learning platform. April said, “After the Duke MBA, I find myself leading change at my company, not just within the scope of my role, but also seeing core challenges in our overall strategy and making an impact within many departments. I am able to see risks and discuss those risks with leaders across the organization to ensure we are successful as a company in the short and long term.”

According to the National Center of Education Statistics, it is estimated that more than a million people are taking executive education courses, although these numbers are not counted like traditional degree granting programs. Antony also mentioned that, “At Harvard, it is estimated that — university-wide — nearly 100,000 people from around the world are educated annually through the executive education offerings of our faculty.” Executive education is growing rapidly to keep up with the profound changes in business today.

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