Look to top business schools for executive education

You may already have an MBA and a master's in information science, but if you want the best leadership and management training available, you'll need go to one of the top business schools in the U.S.

Many of today’s CIOs and other high-ranking technology executives already have MBAs and advanced degrees in information science under their belts. But as their responsibilities grow, they may need additional leadership and management training that they just won’t find on the job.

Some of these IT professionals are turning to executive education programs—mostly short courses offered by virtually every college and university business school in the country. But are they all the same? A 1999 survey by Financial Times found that the U.S.’s top business schools, for the most part, also claim the best executive education. Here’s a quick look at what the leading institutions offer to executives.

The best of the best
Harvard Business School, not surprisingly, was strongest across the board, receiving high rankings for both its open and custom programs. Harvard offers a comprehensive portfolio of executive education programs in the areas of general and financial management, business strategy, leadership and change, social enterprise, technology operations and management, marketing and sales, personal development, and custom programs.

The technology and operations management courses will be of special interest to a CIO or vice president of technology. Offerings include “Building Competitive Advantage Through Operations,” “Delivering Information Services,” “Leading Product Development,” and “Managing Supply Chain Operations: The General Manager's Perspective.”

Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University scored high across the board in the Financial Times survey and received top marks for the range of programs it offers. Kellogg has, unarguably, the largest array of course offerings with the widest variety of topics. The three main general management programs are:
  • ·        The Advanced Education Program, a four-week course that supplies veteran executives with a refresher course on basic business skills and a preparation for expanded general management responsibilities.
  • ·        The Executive Development Program, a three-week program that provides the skills and knowledge of a broad range of functional areas of business to professionals who have ten years or more of experience in a single functional area of business.
  • ·        The Management Institute, a program that features similar content to the Advanced Executive Program, but provides an alternative time frame for the class meetings. Classes meet two Fridays a month for nine months and include three residential stays for a total of twenty class meetings.

And the rest
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, through its Aresty Institute of Executive Education, offers courses to more than 10,000 executives annually. In the Financial Times survey, it ranked highest in achieving the objectives set by participants, both in designing and developing programs for specific clients and in the presentation of open enrollment programs.

Upcoming courses at Wharton include finance and accounting, Web metrics, e-commerce strategy, and training for pharmaceutical executives. Wharton also provides a full menu of leadership and senior management courses in areas such as critical thinking, decision-making, executive team dynamics, collaboration, leading organizational change, managing people, negotiation, and bargaining.

Widely acknowledged as the number one business school for international issues, Columbia University’s Business School was judged best on diversity, both in terms of its international mix and the number of women in its programs.

Columbia offers executive education in four areas: management development, leadership, marketing and sales management, and finance and accounting. Participants can choose between these and custom-designed programs, which make up almost half of the executive program offerings. Faculty members carry out a full needs-analysis with a corporate partner before developing the correct approach. Participants must take on a large organizational responsibility because of the intensity of the program.

Fuqua School of Business at Duke University scored high on the Financial Times survey for its follow-up and customization of executive education. Its four-week advanced management program helps high-potential executives make the transition to senior leadership and develop clear, compelling strategies for their companies. Fuqua’s program for manager development—being offered three times this year—is designed to prepare high-potential managers for increased cross-functional responsibilities.

Fuqua boasts its custom-designed programs, which are designed to meet individual organizations’ needs and are attended only by executives in that organization. Programs for focused change can address objectives such as improving specific skills and competencies of the company’s next generation of leaders, and improving the general business knowledge of key managers.

While Stanford’s Graduate School of Business Education received criticism for having less than 20 percent participation by women, its executive programs are touted for providing research-based, globally relevant frameworks for addressing the issues that face senior executives. Stanford’s programs involve intensive, residential learning experiences, and the school’s proximity to Silicon Valley allows participants to hear lectures and panel discussions, that include leading technology professionals.

The Stanford Executive Program offers a wide variety of general management courses, and a one-week elective program allows participants to customize the program for individual needs.

The Executive Program for Growing Companies is designed for leaders of new or rapidly growing companies with less than 1,000 employees. Participants are encouraged to bring a business challenge they are facing and have it discussed in a block of time specifically allotted for group syndicate work.

Specialized programs include advanced negotiation, credit risk modeling for financial institutions, developing and manufacturing products, strategy and organization, leading and managing change, team management, negotiation and influence strategies, and managing finance, human resources, marketing, technology, and supply chains.
Have you taken an executive education course? Was it worth the money and time away from work? Tell us about your experience by posting a comment below. If you have a story idea you'd like to share, please drop us a note.

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