This blog post is part of a commercial collaboration between Henley Business School and Juho Toivola.
I’ve been considering Executive MBA (EMBA) studies for many years. I have also shared my considerations with friends and family. Here are some of the comments they’ve made:
”EMBAs are a waste of time. Just tell me what you want to learn and I’ll give you a link to a YouTube video or TED talk that explains everything on the topic.”CEO of a stock-listed company
”I think EMBAs are mainly for people who don’t have previous university degrees. It’s hard to see any added value in it for a person who already has a Master’s degree from another field.”Successful serial entrepreneur/investor
”Entrepreneurs don’t do EMBAs. EMBAs are for middle management working rats who are not eligible for stock options so HR has to invent something to keep them busy.”Management consultant, Partner
Despite these critical comments, I’ve decided to pursue Henley’s EMBA. In this post, I share my reasoning behind this decision.
1. If you’re the smartest person in the room…
Educational scientists tend to agree that learning is a social process. On my personal development journey so far, a key component has been surrounding myself with people I can learn from. I’ve reviewed the profile of typical Henley EMBA students and I’m sure that I can definitely learn a lot just by spending time with them discussing topics inside and outside the curriculum. I know for sure that there will be fellow students and inspiring lecturers who are much smarter than me – and that inspires me.
2. Building relevant networks through joint activities
I’m trying to develop a habit of actively renewing my professional network every 3 to 5 years. As I progress and develop in business life, I need to build and maintain new kinds of professional networks that will challenge my thinking and continue to keep my learning curve steep. Part of my motivation to pursue an EMBA comes from the interest to gain new, business-relevant contacts. I also believe that this is relevant networking from a long-term business development angle. Being part of the Henley alumni is a valuable asset in working life.
3. Being my very own management consultant
I don’t have any difficulties in getting things done. What I am often lacking, however, is the ability to analyse and reflect on my actions, and the ability to use relevant frameworks to identify areas for improvement. Currently, I’m managing two companies (Asselmointi & Digital Minds) as an entrepreneur. As such, I make important strategic choices every day. I’m excited about the possibility to apply the knowledge gained from the studies to my everyday business challenges in these two companies.
It’s much more motivating to study business and management, when you actually have a business to manage. That also keeps me motivated to learn more and make sure that I have considered things from as many relevant angles as possible. For me, completing an EMBA and using my own businesses as examples in the various case studies, is a good way to ”be my own management consultant”. Getting feedback on my business reasoning from professors and fellow students is something I expect a lot.
4. Evidence-based approach to business challenges
I highly appreciate the rigidity and structure of the academic approach. With my previous university degrees in psychology, I haven’t really dug deep on the key research around business and economics. Being able to seek and find relevant research to back up my business thinking is another key motivator for me pursuing an EMBA. Of course I could do this already now, but my experience is that for me it’s easier to go through research systematically when there’s an actual assignment I’m working on.
Going through research and taking a more academic approach is also a great counterweight to the more intuitive and ad hoc way of running early-stage growth companies. Science does not usually provide any easy answers for everyday business challenges, but at least it helps to keep the thinking somewhat sound, and stay critical about the ever-changing management trends.
Conclusion and recap: why an EMBA?
- Learning from others, choosing my teachers
- Building networks, getting connected
- Accelerating positive development of business
- Finding out what science says, staying critical
Those are my key reasons for pursuing an EMBA.
You can follow my EMBA journey through weekly updates with the hashtag #JuhoGoesEMBA on LinkedIn.
If you would like to learn more about the Henley EMBA:
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