Extreme Executive Education


Whether they’re located in the north, south, east or west, some of the country’s best business graduate schools are offering extreme executive education these days. The following article highlights the executive education offerings of 15 schools ranked among the top in Business Insider’s exclusive listing of the top full-time MBA programs in the world (excluding those not located in the United States).

Harvard Business School

An acknowledged leader in business, Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Executive Education Program includes the Program for Leadership Development, the General Management Program and the Advanced Management Program. David B. Yoffie, senior associate dean, chair, executive education at Harvard Business School, had this to say about the program in his written HBS Executive Education Message. “From our main campus in Boston to our many venues around the world, we offer more than 60 open-enrollment programs designed to meet today’s global challenges…. Each intensive offering is designed to develop visionary leaders who can help their companies drive corporate performance and sustain strategic advantage — even in an uncertain global economy.…”

HBS’ Executive Education Program includes a wide variety of leadership and management courses, incorporating vital topics such as dealing with global markets, media management/marketing, customer relations and employee relations. Relevant customer care courses currently being offered, according to Charlie Breckling, managing director, marketing, executive education, HBS, include “Building and Leading Customer-Centric Organizations” (scheduled to take place at the HBS campus in May 2011; it is also offered in Europe the following year). Another key program, offered on campus this April, is “Achieving Breakthrough Service Driving Performance and Profitability.”

According to Yoffie’s written message, the program utilizes social media programs such as LinkedIn to allow executives who have taken part in the program to not only keep in touch, but to also readily share what they learned from their experiences. Breckling said Harvard carefully studied social media networks before dipping its collective toe into the water in 2009. Today, he added, “We have a pretty broad social network.”

The key is giving those on their social media networks “information they can use. Across all of our social media programs, what we’re trying to do is to add value,” Breckling said. He acknowledged that “content is kind in social media” and that Harvard’s graduate school publishing division makes a “great content partnership.”            Harvard has two groups on LinkedIn. The first group, open by invitation only, is designed for alumni and past participant groups; the numbers total between 11,000 and 12,000, said Breckling. “We provide them with content…to keep them engaged as part of the community and to allow them to network with each other,” he added. The “friends of” group, on the other hand, is open to anyone. Very similar to an alumni group, it tends to provide more program information.

Harvard takes a more casual approach to what it places on Facebook, and with more than 11,000 “likes” on its Facebook page, that aspect of its social media campaign continues growing. Additionally, Harvard is making use of other Internet outlets, including YouTube and Twitter. Video testimonials of participant experiences as well as “faculty-taught leadership” grace YouTube — the total being somewhere between 50 and 60 videos and growing — with more than 21,000 views. Harvard’s Twitter page has approximately 4,000 followers and features links to articles and programs as well as selected retweets of those who tweet about Harvard’s programs.

Breckling is encouraged by Harvard’s exploration of social media. “It’s a great way to engage with people, and people have been very responsive.”

Stanford Graduate School of Business

From the business school’s locus at the heart of Stanford University, students are within walking distance of the other six schools (Earth Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, and Medicine). This unparalleled immediacy fosters collaboration across disciplines in research and teaching.

If Priya Singh, assistant dean, office of executive education, Stanford Graduate School of Business, had to give only one reason to choose Stanford for executive education, it would be simple. The biggest reason to come to Stanford is because of the people who teach there. “Program participants have a chance to interact with some of the world’s most influential faculty,” Singh said.

Stanford offers numerous one-week programs designed for executives, Singh said. “Most of our programs cater to higher-level management roles and senior-level leadership,” she explained. “Executive education programs are open to the general world of executives.”

Singh added that “[Stanford’s] open-enrollment program portfolio is designed to equip senior executives with what we think they need — tools, networking relationships, etc. — which allows them to perform at the highest levels in their management roles…,” said Singh. “All of the Stanford executive [education]programs really prepare managers or leaders with the skills they need to positively reshape their organizations.”

The school’s website incorporates an interactive program finder (searchable by subject areas or management level) to make it easy to find the right courses.

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business

According to the website for The University of Michigan Ross School of Business Executive Education Center, “Leadership is a popular category of programs offered by Ross Executive Education. Titles include Positive Leadership: Leading Positive Change, the Emerging Leaders Program and Management of Managers.”

Melanie Weaver Barnett, chief executive of executive education for The University of Michigan Ross School of Business, said the university sets its program apart from the rest by its methodology. “I think all of the schools teach concepts and frameworks and best practices and so on,” explained Barnett. “What we do differently at Ross is a methodology we use called ‘action learning.’ It is really difficult to do it well, and we do it exceptionally well, because we’ve done more of it than any other school…. The topics may be similar. The differences are in the methodologies and outcome.”

Students come from all over the world for the school’s open-enrollment programs, which could last from one to four weeks. For customized programs, it might be several months to a year-long experience, but students don’t meet every day.

Regardless of the type of executive education program selected at Ross, the advantages participants gain include “better judgment and thinking skills, greater capability to innovate, and, because of the action learning process, they gain not just capabilities to get things done, but they get them done as part of the learning experience,” Barnett added. “We enable meaningful change in organizations.”

The school’s executive programs are also offered in Asia, including an executive education office in Hong Kong that features a “whole slate of programs,” and a sales office in Pune, India.

“We’ve completed at the Ross school over 2,000 ‘action learning’ projects in companies and nonprofit organizations around the world…,” said Barnett. “We excel at teaching and learning around leadership, management and strategic human resource management. We do this in both customized and open-enrollment program settings.”

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Advanced Management Program, Executive Development Program and Corporate Governance: Best Practices for Directors are among the featured executive education programs listed for the Aresty Institute of Executive Education, part of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The institute incorporates individualized programs addressing various areas of management/strategy and leadership as well as programs that offer both customized solutions and industry practices for businesses.

“We have programs geared toward senior leaders who scan the horizon for threats and opportunities,” states a welcome letter on the institute’s website from Jason Wingard, Ph.D., vice dean, executive education and adjunct professor of management. “We also cater to middle managers who are moving into a broader management role for the first time. When you come here, you have the opportunity to work on your business challenges with the most published business school faculty in the world.”

MIT Sloan School of Management

Executive Education Links

Harvard Business School

Office of Executive Education, Stanford Graduate School of Business

University of Michigan Ross School of Business Executive Education Center

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Aresty Institute of Executive Education

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Sloan Executive Education

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Columbia Business School Executive Education

Kellogg Executive Education
Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University

Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth

Yale School of Management Executive Education

New York University
Leonard N. Stern School of Business

University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business

Duke University
Fuqua School of Business

Purdue University
Krannert School of Management

University of Virginia
Darden School of Business

MIT Sloan School of Management offers an executive education program with a wide variety of open-enrollment choices for the busy executive, who can take classes that last only two days or focus on one of several executive certificates covering a range of management topics.

According to the school’s website, executives can “choose from over 20 programs led by internationally renowned experts from MIT Sloan School of Management and other MIT schools and research centers. Our-open enrollment programs are offered in three areas of concentration, which address the business needs and goals of executives worldwide: Strategy and Innovation; Technology, Operations and Value Chain Management; and Management and Leadership.”

Degrees are also available through the MIT Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation & Global Leadership or the MIT Executive MBA, a recent addition to the school’s programs. An interactive planning guide and planning calendar simplify getting information about available programs.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business offers several areas of executive education study: finance, general management, leadership/organizational behavior, marketing and sales, and strategy as well as custom learning initiatives for your business. Coursework is also offered in London, England, in the heart of the city’s financial district.

The theory behind these custom learning initiatives is spelled out on the school’s web page: “The success of an enterprise requires effective use of human capital — the sum of the knowledge, attitude, and competencies of people in an organization — and social capital, the value of managers’ relationships within and beyond a firm. Our custom learning initiatives help your staff understand both assets and leverage them to maximize your company’s organizational capital — the extent to which leadership generates commitment and mobilizes the creative energies of the workforce to achieve common goals.”

Columbia Business School

The Columbia Business School Executive Education program offers a number of open-enrollment courses in New York City. It’s easy to find a course that suits the needs of you or anyone in your business needing continuing education. From the school’s website you can search by date, program level, topic or title. One interesting program offered from a customer-service perspective is Customer Centricity; it is taught in May and October on Columbia University’s New York City campus. Custom programs are also available and are designed to help companies deal with challenges within their organizations.

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University offers jointly sponsored programs with numerous academic and business institutions around the world. The school’s website features a user-friendly program finder feature. It also offers custom programs for smaller as well as large companies; in addition, custom programs can be designed to meet the diverse needs of government agencies and industry associations alike. The Executive Scholars Program helps to bring focus to executive studies by allowing students to earn certificates in six key areas: financial management, general management, leadership and management, marketing and sales management, nonprofit management, and technology and operations.

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth features the same faculty members who teach the university’s MBA program. One of the key open programs Tuck offers executives is the Tuck Executive Program (TEP), a three-week, advanced management program; other programs focus on leadership and strategy. Custom engagement programs, which feature a client-focused approach, are offered to help companies achieve goals and make stronger organizations.

Yale School of Management

Yale’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute features special events at which top executives mingle to discuss real-life global business challenges.

The Yale School of Management’s unique offerings in the world of executive education include The Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI). This program features special events at which top executives mingle to discuss real-life global business challenges. According to the school’s website, the program is “The world’s first school for current CEOs featuring applied research and peer-driven learning through lively exchanges among the world’s top business leaders, influential public policy officials, media opinion leaders, as well as the world’s foremost scholarly thought leaders, employing candid, confidential discussions of actual current global business leadership challenges and compelling societal concerns.”

Yale CEO College is designed for a smaller group of corporate officers (12 to 15 on average), and is geared toward executives reporting to the CEO or top management team. You need not apply as this brief, hands-on “college” is by invitation only. All attendees have either an MBA degree or equivalent experience.

New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business

At New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, experienced executives can earn an Executive MBA degree by going to school part-time every other Friday and Saturday. The course takes 22 months to complete, and almost half the students in this program have already earned advanced degrees.

University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business

The University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business offers a variety of executive education courses in several key areas, including leadership, sustainability, biotechnology, and management and strategy. By completing 17 program days (which can be a mixture of custom and open-enrollment courses) satisfactorily in three years or less, students can earn an Executive Certificate of Excellence. From the school’s website, you can search programs by either level of management or topic to find the best fit.

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business offers prospective students a number of executive education options, including the Advanced Management Program (AMP), the Duke Leadership Program, the Dynamic Management program, and the Duke MBA—Weekend Executive program as well as custom education opportunities in conjunction with Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE). Duke also offers programs outside the United States in Dubai, New Delhi, London, St. Petersburg and Shanghai.

Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management

Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management offers various options and campuses where people can earn an MBA degree. One of the more innovative choices (and Purdue was one of the first to offer it) combines a small number of intensive on-campus residences with a set of reading and written assignments done between the residences and submitted electronically. “Call it learning at a distance, rather than distance learning,” said Jerry Lynch, academic director, Krannert Executive Education Programs, in an article on the program’s website, Learning at a Distance. Lynch further states in the article: “We believe it brings together the best executive MBA training, organized around case analyses and class discussion, and the enhancements offered by distance learning technology and the Internet. The potential — and actual — student audience is, quite literally, a worldwide one. As, these days, it needs to be.”

University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business offers a month-long program this summer, The Executive Program, which is designed to aid senior managers in increasing their expertise across various business disciplines. The university also offers open-enrollment programs in several areas, including growth and leadership as well as both general and advanced management. Students may also earn their choice of certificates in Management and Leadership as well as a Distinguished Certificate in General Management or choose a custom program.

— Anne Seebaldt