What kind of MBA does $100,000 buy?

by Tim Dodd
Republished with permission of Australian Financial Review

These are the most expensive ways to get an MBA in Australia: Melbourne Business School’s Executive MBA and Senior Executive MBA, and the University of Sydney Business School’s Global Executive MBA. They all top out at well over $100,000 for an 18-month course which squeezes the material into intensive modules.

Matt Young, deputy chief financial officer at Treasury Wine Estates, says the toughest part of the Executive MBA at Melbourne Business School are the three days before each of the four-day intensives, which run from Thursday to Sunday, when he has to shoehorn five days work into three.

In comparison, the four days in the MBA bubble are a breeze, he says. The cohort, focused on the course material and working with their fellow MBA students, is able to shut out – to large degree – other concerns.

But you’re absolutely shot in the week after the intensive, Young says, noting: “Pressure creates diamonds.” So here are the fundamentals about the ultimate executive MBAs.

Melbourne’s EMBA is $98,500 plus airfares for a residential in Malaysia. The business school’s Senior EMBA is $121,800, plus airfares for three overseas visits to Indonesia, Germany and the United States.

Sydney’s Global EMBA is $97,500, plus $25,000 for residential accommodation. Airfares for three overseas visits covering the US, India, Israel and Britain are extra. These courses are very time efficient. “Doing weekly classes is not possible for most of these executives,” says Robin Stonecash, program director of the University of Sydney Business School’s Global Executive MBA.

That’s why Sydney’s program is organised in five two-week residential chunks over 18 months, three of which are overseas: one in India, one in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and one in Cambridge and Israel.

Melbourne’s EMBA and Senior EMBA are similar. The EMBA, in which Young is enrolled, has 18 four-day weekends plus a nine-day overseas visit. The Senior EMBA has 10 nine-day modules, each from a Saturday to the following Sunday.



Matt Young, deputy CFO, Treasury Wine Estates, is doing the Executive MBA at
Melbourne Business School.

Not for neophytes

Both the Melbourne and Sydney programs assume those who enrol are experienced in their careers; these MBAs are not for neophytes. Students often have very high levels of expertise and so are not expected to rehash what they already know.

Stonecash says that students get reading to do ahead of face-to-face sessions.

“They do that work themselves and we trust they are going to do it if they need it and if they don’t need it they don’t do it,” she says. Vivek Chaudhri, academic director of Melbourne Business School’s MBA programs, says the important distinction between executive MBA programs and other MBAs is the requirement to think across the domains.

As executives, they must be able to draw on all the ingredients which are part of the normal MBA program because, when they’re at the top, viewing a problem through a single lens is not enough. “The difference between an analyst and a senior manager is akin to the difference between a cook and a chef,” Chaudhri says. “I don’t think MBAs do enough in that holistic way. But executive MBA programs and senior executive MBA programs are aiming precisely at that.”


Naomi Shepherd of Facebook: "What the MBA does is teaches you how to think."
Photp credit: James Brickwood

How to think

Naomi Shepherd, group industry director at Facebook, has nearly completed the Senior EMBA at Melbourne Business School and says it has broadened her business horizons. “It’s not been about getting a piece of paper at the end of it. What the MBA does is teaches you how to think,” she says.

She found huge benefit in studying with the same cohort of people through the 18-month program and by working intensively with them in syndicate groups. “I’m exposed to industries I otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. People in the mining and resources sector, people in local government, quite a few in finance.”

It was particularly useful to her to get a perspective from outside her very new industry sector. “We’re a 14-year-old company. Tech companies sometimes lack the discipline a 50 or 60-year-old company has,” she says.

Young, who is doing Melbourne’s other degree, the EMBA, agrees.

“When you have people in investment banking talking about M&A [mergers and acquisitions] and you’ve got people in agriculture talking about innovation, you actually learn as much from them as you do the lecturers,” he says.

Daniel Dihen, who works in a senior role in the aviation industry and is doing Sydney’s Global EMBA, also found the experience taught him about himself and led to times of reflection and self-development.

“What I was doing well for a very long time was leading the people that work for me and leading the business. But one thing I failed to do was lead myself, professionally and personally,” he says. “One thing I got out of the program was how to do that successfully.”

Dihen says he’s now a far more strategic thinker. “I’m thinking more about the impacts of my decisions on an international scale, environmentally, competitively, socially and technologically,” he says.

robin_stonecash.jpg
University of Sydney Business School's Robin Stonecash: "Doing weekly classes is not
possible for most of these executives.”
Photo Credit : Brook Mitchell

New opportunities

Another Sydney Global EMBA student, Drew Bradford, says the program helped him to see business more broadly; a case of sitting on the balcony rather than down in the weeds, he says. “I’ve been able to see new opportunities I probably wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t done this program,” says Bradford, who is National Australia Bank’s executive general manager, fixed income, currencies and commodities.

“I think the benefit to NAB will be high through me doing this program. There’s a lot of stuff I’m bringing back from it. How to approach new markets, how to set things up that will actually attract clients rather than us have to go out and push stuff,” he says.

He found huge value in the overseas units, seeing at first hand four major technology hubs, San Francisco for digital, Los Angeles for media, Cambridge for biotech and Tel Aviv for artificial intelligence.

Would he change anything about the program? Nothing. He says he wishes it would go on for longer.

See the original article at www.afr.com