Why Indian Executives should look West and embrace professional development
There comes a point in an executive’s career when ascending the ladder, where the pressure to continue to be successful is at its most intense, particularly as younger colleagues eager to get ahead seems to be queuing up behind them.
Continuing to provide gains for an organization can be a tricky feat, particularly in today’s rapidly evolving business environment. Leadership management has become an entirely different discipline to the one many executives first learned, and one which they may not be as wholly prepared to successfully navigate as they once were.
The world has become increasingly interconnected since the turn of the millennium, enabling organizations to transcend physical borders and geographies, requiring those at the helm of the industry to develop a global perspective. The surge in new technologies, automation, digitization, and big data management has created new opportunities for growth and development but has simultaneously forced senior professionals to develop new skills and capabilities. Societal pressures have created new demands on industry to ensure practices are safe, sustainable and can offer a benefit to the local community.
When facing new challenges and new pressures, it makes sense for senior professionals to explore the executive education options available at business schools.
But where to start? For someone holding a senior role, this solution is not as straightforward as it seems. There are a number of practical challenges which can stand in the way. Whilst executive degree programs have now become an essential step on the career ladder for many senior-level professionals, with careers and reputations to protect, it can be scary to admit that there may be gaps in their knowledge. Admitting that they might not have all the answers runs the risk of negative repercussions.
Furthermore, at this later stage, executives often have more than their professional lives to safeguard. With families to support and lifestyles to maintain, the prospect of giving up the day job to take on a full-time education program may not be a viable, or desirable option.
However, there has never been a better, or more vital, time to regroup and upskill. Industry across India is thriving and developing at a pace that is tricky to keep up with. There is a drive to get on; whether for money, personal and professional development, start-up growth or otherwise, there is ambition. For executives finding themselves out of the loop, heading back to business school is certainly a sensible investment.
When making the decision of where to study an executive programme, applicants are flooded with choice. There is no shortage of business schools across India offering Executive MBAs, MBAs, MOOCs, and Master’s programmes but, whilst staying local may be convenient, there are disadvantages here too. Studying locally can mean that executives fail to completely disconnect from their professional lives whilst in the classroom, and may even find themselves studying alongside the very colleagues and peers they are seeking to impress.
Embarking on studies abroad not only decreases the likelihood of sitting across the classroom from a colleague (or a competitor), but also adds an additional layer of value to an executive’s study experience – the opportunity to understand how leaders in different industries, geographies, and cultures conduct business and make decisions. Typically, when looking to take on an executive education programme abroad, Indians have looked towards Europe or the US, but this can be a large commitment, requiring extra travel time and additional expense.
So what’s left for time-pushed, ambitious Indian executives keen to enhance their capabilities? The answer may be to look West. Qatar, apart from boasting a thriving economy for Indians to benefit from, is also home to the Middle East campus of the triple-accredited (AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB) European business school HEC Paris, and with it, the school’s Executive MBA programme.
HEC Paris is ranked as one of the world’s leaders in executive education by the Financial Times. Aimed at senior executives with an average of 15 years of professional work experience, the programme focuses on updating and enhancing core business strategy and leadership skills, providing Indian participants with a world-class executive education that's only a short flight from home.
The six weeks in class in year one and three weeks in class in year two makes the HEC Paris EMBA ideal for executives seeking to balance their work and personal lives alongside their studies. Delivered in a modular format of seven week-long modules, the programme guides executives through core business fundamentals and a strategic business project in a digestible format, providing the opportunity to consider lessons and apply them to their professional lives in real time. Furthermore, by engaging in the programme’s overseas modules in different geographical locations, participants can also gain international exposure.
Being physically in class, rather than learning at a distance via an online programme also provides a unique, and safe setting for developing new knowledge and practicing,contextualising and embedding new skills with like-minded business professionals. On the Executive MBA participants are not only required to build on their existing business skills but enhance their own self-awareness and consider their shortcomings. HEC Paris faculty actively seek to show executives the gaps in their knowledge, taking participants on a journey of self-awareness, reflecting on their actions and adapting their leadership styles accordingly to create a better level of value for their respective organizations.
Outside of the classroom, making the decision to study abroad also provides executives with access to a global support network, helping to ensure such professionals can continue their learning long after graduation.
Stepping away from the familiar social and work environment to take the Executive MBA in a new geography can be liberating and often provide the best platform for innovation, creativity, and self-discovery.
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