A Lot About Yale SOM’s EMBA Program – And a Little About One Year MBAs [Episode 190]
Before we turn to our regularly scheduled content, I want to respond to a question asked of me on Twitter by @agarwalgaurav04: He asked me if we can do a show on U.S. one-year MBA programs. We might in the future, and while today’s show is not devoted to that topic, you can get a lot of information from the podcast with Columbia Business School’s Emily French (episode #171). Similarly, while INSEAD is NOT a US school, the interview with Virginie Fougea, INSEAD’s admissions director, also provides a lot of insight into what that top international one-year program is looking for.
One of the key differences between a 1Y and a 2Y program is lack of internship. So most one-year programs want to admit students who A) don’t need an internship, and B) have crystal clear goals so that they can hit the job search trail running -- without hesitation or delay. Applicants who are returning to a previous employer are particularly appealing, but you don’t need to have a job offer in hand to apply or to get accepted. If you want to change function and industry after you earn your MBA, maybe attempt to do one shift with your first post-MBA job and the other in a second post-MBA position. In a nutshell, if you prefer a one-year program, keep your goals realistic and achievable.
Also, make sure you meet the school’s criteria for the one-year program. Kellogg for example, admits applicants to its 1Y program who have at least a strong academic foundation in business if not an undergrad business degree. Cornell Johnson in contrast, wants applicants with advanced degrees or certifications for its Accelerated program and lists programs that satisfy its requirements, but they don’t have to be in business. Know what the programs require before you apply and make sure you can give them what they seek.
In a nutshell, here’s what you need to remember if you are interested in a one-year program:
1. Keep your goals realistic and achievable. There’s no time for soul-searching or an internship.
2. Know what the programs require before you apply and make sure you meet the requirements.
Thanks Gaurav for the question.
Today’s interview focuses on a different type of non-traditional MBA program: the Executive MBA. I thought it would be great to learn about one of the newer EMBA programs, specifically Yale School of Management’s EMBA. Yale SOM’s Executive MBA program will graduate its 10th class this year. However, for the most of its existence, it was exclusively a healthcare-focused EMBA program. That focus was expanded a couple of years ago, and today Yale EMBA provides a general management education with three areas of concentration for its students. We’ll learn more about those later.
For now it gives me great pleasure to introduce today’s guest, Vani Nadarajah, Director of Admissions, Executive MBA and Global Programs at Yale School of Management.
Can you give us an overview of Yale’s EMBA program? [4:30]
It’s a full MBA: we have one degree that we deliver to our students in two formats – the fulltime MBA and the Executive MBA. It’s very rigorous. It’s 75% general management, and then in the second year, students divide between asset management, healthcare, and sustainability.
Do EMBA students have more experience than fulltime students, or is it a part-time format of the FT MBA? [6:05]
They’re more experienced. Our FT MBA students average five to six years of experience, and our EMBA students currently average 12 years. And the average age in the FT program is 28-29, while in the EMBA program it’s 36-37.
Are most students using the program to move up in their career, or are they planning to change careers? [6:40]
They’re mostly accelerating their careers – for example from middle manager to senior manager. They’re ready to step up and do more – take on a more strategic role in their organization.
One of the distinctive aspects of Yale SOM is its integrated curriculum. What does that mean, practically, for students in the classroom? [7:25]
Our curriculum has advanced to the next stage – beyond structuring by function (marketing, commercial strategy, etc). Yale’s gone beyond that, and structured the curriculum by stakeholder perspective.
Many of our grads are going out and starting companies, or working in diverse roles in government, non-profits, multinationals, etc. We wanted to deliver a curriculum that is more relevant to these graduates. Our faculty shaped courses based on stakeholder perspective – such as “Customer,” “Competitor,” and “Innovator.” Whatever career path students take, they will have customers and competitors!
Students get an elevated perspective, a more strategic view. They think about how stakeholder perspectives fit together.
Can you give an example of how students approach problems from different perspectives? [10:55]
At the end of the core curriculum, they’ve taken nine different perspective courses. That’s followed by a capstone executive course, where they work through cases and are asked to strategize from different perspectives. They’re forced to pull together everything they’ve learned as they make strategic decisions. They’re really pushed by the faculty to understand the implications of the decisions they make.
What is the Yale Global Network, and how do EMBA students participate? [14:00]
It’s a network of 28 top business schools around the world. In the US, Haas and Yale are members; the rest are international schools that came together to collaborate. The program is five years old this year.
It starts with exchanges: weeklong programs at networked schools. EMBAs participate in network exchanges in fall and spring. And we now have a mandatory EMBA exchange in June (they can choose among seven to eight participating schools).
There are also online cases – interactive work with schools around the world, where students can incorporate different perspectives.
And there are Small Network Online Courses, where they participate with international teammates virtually by webinar in short courses (about three months).
If I want to move up in an area – say, brand management at a tech firm – that’s not directly related to any of the three specializations, am I better off looking elsewhere? [19:10]
Asset management and healthcare are two very big industries, that incorporate a lot of tracks.
Sustainability is our general track – it’s very business focused. We have people in that track working across multiple industries.
Is that “sustainability” in a business sense rather than an environmental sense? [21:00]
Well, it’s really both. They take a course on Natural Capital.
This is a time of innovation – how organizations can innovate and take advantage of that.
When we look at how millennials work and where they decide to work, sustainability (in both senses) is part of that.
So it’s really about a business case for sustainability: how do you have an agile supply chain? How do you report to stakeholders on that, get the CFO to invest, etc?
We think it will give grads an edge because they’ll have this perspective for the future.
If someone wants to change function, can they do that in the EMBA? [24:05]
It’s more set up for career acceleration rather than major shifts.
They have a lot to get through in 22 months, and there’s no internship.
We don’t have the time in the program – or the programming – to help them make a major career shift. The FT MBA is set up for that.
But our EMBA students are normally aiming to accelerate: When you have students here on a healthcare track, they’re here because they’re passionate about leading change in their industry.
Does anyone take the EMBA hoping to start their own company? [26:25]
Yes. We have very diverse classes – they come because they’re drawn to the mission of the Yale SOM. The And they’re all leaders/experts in their own field, so they learn a lot from their classmates. Imagination runs wild, and they come up with business ideas and concepts.
Can you give an example? [28:55]
There were some students working on an investment fund – one from the asset management track, one from healthcare, and one from sustainability, and their expertise complemented each other.
When you come into a program like this, you can’t help but have your mind blown by your classmates and come up with ideas. So many people will eventually create businesses.
Do you plan to increase the number of focus areas? [30:15]
That’s on the back burner for now. Right now we’re enjoying the synergy between these three, and making the program the best it can be.
We never get entrenched in a curriculum – we’re always listening to faculty and students.
Is there mixing between FT MBA and EMBA students? [31:20]
A lot happens in alumni chapters after graduation. On campus, it’s more difficult, because the fulltime students are on campus Monday through Thursday, and the EMBA students are on campus Friday and Saturday.
But they occasionally interact in electives, committees, conferences, and social activities.
Turning to the application – what makes a great application? [32:55]
When somebody had an amazing career – getting to the bottom of that story is compelling.
We’re also looking for strong academics.
If you’ve worked or studied abroad, that can be exciting to us. And your interests/hobbies can be very interesting.
Overall, we’re looking for people with a clear resolution.
We’re looking for an affinity for our mission – a genuine passion and alignment for our mission.
What mistakes do people make? [34:30]
The copy-and-paste kind of essay – that’s very disappointing.
Some people do that at a more junior level because they’re applying to a lot of institutions. But if you’re applying to an EMBA, you’re probably only applying to two or three institutions.
We’re very distinct. And if there’s nothing in your essay that resonates with that – if we’re just a cut-and-paste essay to you – that can be very disappointing.
What’s coming in the future at Yale SOM? [35:55]
We have a brand new building, with some of the best technology on campus, including improved video streaming capability. So we’re experimenting with how we can inject more flexibility into our format by creating a very interactive experience.
That could have implications for bringing in more students from Latin America or Western Europe.
What advice do you have for people considering an EMBA at Yale SOM? [38:00]
I would say, get to know us. We have a pre-assessment service – send us your CV.
Definitely touch base with us before applying. We have a very interactive process with a lot of touch points – get to know us as much as you can (webinars, info sessions, visits, etc). Our mission is very important.
If you get to know us and feel we’re your people, then apply.
I meant to mention that the next Yale SOM EMBA deadline is February 10, 2017. So if Yale SOM EMBA appeals and you are reading this around the time we post this podcast, you still have time.
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