Corporate Executives Turn to EMBA Programs to Advance Talent

The Executive MBA offers a powerful tool in the arsenal of leadership development for organizations, say executives from diverse industries.

The environments of EMBA Programs help promote new perspectives and ways of looking at business issues, says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. In particular, the peer networks of EMBA Programs with students from diverse backgrounds and industries support a unique form of learning.

“I can’t replicate that in any other way,” says Haefner. As an EMBA graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Haefner understands the benefits of EMBA peer networks and the EMBA experience.

The confidence of EMBA alumni grows after completing the program, and they make valuable contributions to the company, she says.

CareerBuilder typically plans for a certain amount of spots and works internally to identify potential candidates. The company sponsors EMBA students with no strings attached. “We have very strong retention for many years following the completion of the program.”

Avnet, a global Fortune 500 company and one of the largest distributors of electronic components, computer products, and embedded technology serving customers globally, takes on the challenge of ensuring strong leadership in a systematic way.

A formal process helps guide the support of leadership talent throughout the organization and includes an annual review of the top three levels of the organization, says MaryAnn Miller, senior vice president, chief human resources officer, and corporate communications for Avnet.

Plans help identify next steps for development, and those plans may include a variety of options, such as the EMBA.

“As an organization, we would consider it from a development perspective, but we also need interest from the individual,” she says. “We know that it takes commitment from both parties.”

As an alumnus of the W.P. Carey Executive MBA at Arizona State University, Miller understands the EMBA experience and is an EMBA supporter.

Like other organizations, Avnet faces the challenges of changing demographics, with experienced baby boomers leaving the organization. EMBA Programs can help reduce the skill gap more quickly, she says.

“The organization very much benefits because it helps individuals develop a broad organizational perspective, particularly if the individual comes from a narrow discipline,” adds Miller.

A leading worldwide provider of turf, rental, construction, irrigation, and outdoor lighting products, Toro uses a variety of tools when it comes to nurturing its leadership talent.

The EMBA is one of those options that Toro uses at the higher leadership levels, says Mike Hoffman, CEO of Toro. In fact, Hoffman completed his EMBA Program at the University of Minnesota when he was vice president of the consumer division at the company.

The experience helps Hoffman understand the contributions EMBA can make depending on the candidate’s background. For example, EMBA helped one recent graduate from the company to expand his perspective.

“He came out of the operations area, but lacked background in marketing and general management, says Hoffman. “We used EMBA to help accelerate his experience beyond the operations area.”

Programs are significant investments. On the plus side of the scale, EMBA Programs are highly applicable to the business environment, which helps the organization, says Hoffman, in adapting to relevant changes in the business environment, such as growth in both technology and the global scope.

“It is a very rich learning experience,” says Hoffman. “What students will learn will help them in their career. It opened my eyes to look at things differently. I know it made me a more effective leader here at Toro.”