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Is an Executive MBA Right for You? Leading in the Next Era

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the response to this tumultuous global event have forever reshaped the world of business. As marketplaces transform, business leaders across industries worldwide are faced with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Technology and computing power are accelerating the pace of business and redefining workplaces. Demographic shifts are driving business trends and creating new marketplaces in the U.S. and abroad. Calls for gender equity and social justice are driving positive changes in the workplace. Future managers and executive leaders will need to understand how to cope with monumental shifts in “business as usual” and how to succeed in this evolving business world.

It’s not unsurprising that many experienced managers are realizing that there are areas of business they should know better. Professionals in the early to the mid-career stage often attend a full-or-part-time MBA program to fill in these skills gaps. However, more seasoned professionals who already have basic business experience can benefit from training that caters to their higher-level skills with peers with similar backgrounds and needs. This is where an Executive MBA (Executive MBA) can help.

The Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA is aimed at business executives with five years or more of managerial experience—the typical professional is in their mid-to-late thirties or older. Learning focuses less on basic business skills, which candidates have already mastered, and more on the strategy and nuances of business. The Executive MBA program is intended to teach current managers and executives to be strong and effective leaders in the modern business world.

The flexible course schedule is designed with an executive’s calendar in mind. Students can maintain a work-life balance, keep their full-time positions, and attend weekend classes once a month on Fridays or Saturdays. Attendees benefit from a network of peers from across industry sectors that lend experience, best practices, and new perspectives in addition to training through coursework. Students learn as part of a small, collaborative cohort of peers from a diverse range of industries for the span of the 19-month program. Each cohort is assigned a class advisor who acts as a mentor and offers guidance to students as they complete their degrees.

Is the Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA program right for you?

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help make the decision easier:

Are there new job skills that you need to learn or polish?

As the business world evolves and technology changes, so too do the skills needed to succeed. An Executive MBA can help you develop into a better manager by providing the knowledge and skills that others look for in a great leader. For example, many professionals realize they would benefit from stronger communication skills or analytical abilities. Others seek exposure to advances in machine learning or artificial intelligence. An Executive MBA can help prepare professionals in those areas and give them hands-on experience to take back to benefit their workplace.

Does earning an Executive MBA align with your career goals?

Earning an Executive MBA surrounds you with experienced faculty, a high-level curriculum, and a network of peers that can challenge and inspire you towards fulfilling your dreams and career aspirations. Whether you are a business owner seeking to grow your business, an entrepreneur looking to start a new company, or you want to increase your company’s value before selling and/or retiring, an Executive MBA can help you achieve your goals.

Can you set aside the time to take part in an Executive MBA program?

An Executive MBA program is characterized by longer classes (sometimes a full day) and extended projects that require careful time management. At Pepperdine Graziadio, the Executive MBA is designed around a 19-month curriculum with classes meeting on weekends, approximately every two to three weeks. Suppose you have time-consuming obligations such as childcare, work responsibilities, or hobbies, in that case, an Executive MBA may require you to rearrange your schedule to focus on classes, work on projects, and manage coursework. As we described in a previous blog, we believe the overall return far exceeds the investment.

If the answers to these questions affirm a decision to earn an Executive MBA, here are some additional specifics about Pepperdine Graziadio’s Executive MBA and some key takeaways:

What is the Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA?

The Pepperdine Graziadio Business School offers two separate Executive MBA programs for mid-to senior-level professionals ready to take the next step in their careers. Classes for both our one-of-a-kind Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) MBA and our traditional Executive MBA meet at multiple campus locations to accommodate the busy schedules of working executives.

The Executive MBA program is designed to accommodate the busy executive's schedule and is offered over a 19-month, five-trimester period. Classes meet approximately once every three weeks on Fridays and Saturdays. A minimum of seven years of work experience is required for our Executive MBA program, plus two years at the management level. Unique to the Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA, each cohort is assigned a class executive coach. These entrepreneurs and business executives are graduates of our Executive MBA program and bring a wealth of valuable experience and connections to our students. An international research excursion gives additional insight into developing markets and a deeper understanding of global business. Through this program, students visit two countries and meet face-to-face with company executives to experience first-hand how global business is done.

Ten Key Takeaways for the Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA:

  1. Learn and work at the same time.
    The delivery and structure of the Executive MBA program are designed for experienced working professionals, so you don’t have to interrupt your career or give up your salary. Four Pepperdine campus locations near work and home make it easier to attend classes. Program start dates are offered multiple times a year in the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms.
  2. Real-life, real-time application.
    Each Executive MBA class session offers the opportunity to apply classroom teachings in the real world. For example, you might create a new data model to increase efficiency, implement a management technique, or try a new negotiation tactic. When you return to class, students share their experiences and learn from each other. Collaborative and experience-driven lessons are just a few of the Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA hallmarks.
  3. Expand professional network.
    Students form relationships with outstanding faculty with a unique combination of academic accomplishments and real-world industry experience. 125+ Executive MBA cohorts are part of the over 40,000 individuals in the Graziadio alumni network worldwide. Los Angeles is a gateway to the world and the Executive MBA enables you to connect with classmates and alumni who are experienced professionals in a wide range of industries around the world.
  4. Accelerate career opportunities.
    An Executive MBA will help you boost your career trajectory by understanding leadership and teamwork, prioritization and strategy, the digital impact on business, and the ability to solve complex problems. The Executive MBA is a credential that can never be taken away and increases in value over the long term.
  5. Learn new business approaches and concepts.
    Students learn in an interactive environment that focuses on replicating realistic scenarios and teaches skills and techniques to master modern business scenarios. Students participate in simulations such as managing a crisis, delivering performance reviews, case competitions, and exploring online applications to manage day-to-day business operations.
  6. Learn from a coach and mentor.
    As most seasoned professionals know, coaches and mentors provide valuable guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling. Executive MBA candidates work with a dedicated executive coach and mentor assigned to each cohort to provide help in individual and group situations.
  7. Increase leadership skills.
    The business world rewards effective listeners and communicators who can motivate a team, improve efficiency, and help organizations achieve their goals. Students explore and refine leadership skills including taking initiative, critical thinking, listening effectively, and motivating others.
  8. Experienced personalized learning.
    The Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA approach customizes learning for each student's strengths, needs, skills, and interests. Each student works on an applied strategic research project that leverages what they know and how they learn best to achieve maximum results.
  9. Standardized entrance exams are not required.
    Pepperdine Graziadio believes in taking a holistic approach to each applicant’s core competencies and maintaining a high standard of students without requiring the cost and time burden of taking a standardized test. Admissions are instead focused on student backgrounds, career goals, and real-world achievements.
  10. Receive a degree from a highly ranked Executive MBA program.
    The Pepperdine Graziadio Executive MBA program ranks #27 in the country according to U.S. News and World Report, ranks #19 Best MBA in the World, rank as a Tier One Executive MBA among North American programs by CEO Magazine, and ranks #8 Best Executive MBA in the Western Region by Ivy Exec.

With these skills, experiences, and benefits from the Executive MBA program, students stand to reap the rewards over the entire trajectory of their careers . An Executive MBA also enables leaders and their teams to accelerate growth and impact the bottom line, in addition to positively increasing potential personal financial benefits. Executives who may previously have had little or no exposure to global markets and international business are prepared to open doors for their company in new geographies and industries.

Establishing an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Overall, operating a business during the pandemic was extremely difficult. As the economy regains its footing, experts predict small business growth will accelerate. According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., growth in entrepreneurship could bode well for job growth and economic activity in the post-pandemic world. We believes an entrepreneurial mindset is not only recommended but required for success in both large and small organizations. At Pepperdine Graziadio, our Executive MBA candidates are encouraged to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change and dramatically increases the viability of businesses in an ever-shifting world.

Surging Interest in MBA-level Skills Training

MBA programs, including those at Pepperdine Graziadio , are seeing record interest and enrollment across programs. FORTUNE Magazine recently asked our Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management, Arman Davytan, to comment on the phenomenon—he noted a 55% increase in applications across all MBA programs during the 2020–21 admissions cycle compared to the previous year. Arman expects applications and enrollment to be roughly the same elevated number in 2021-2022. In hard skills and soft skills, a preponderance of forward-looking professionals are considering how to enhance their skills in order to gain an edge.

Still not sure if an Executive MBA is right for you?

For those considering other options or not ready to commit to the time required for an Executive MBA, a Pepperdine Graziadio Executive Education course may be a good fit. These short, non-degree courses are a deep dive into timely and relevant subjects such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Mini-MBA, Cyber-risk, Leadership Essentials, Financial Management for the Family Office, Private Capital Markets, Healthcare Management and Leadership, and Business Analytics. Many of the programs are based on topics and thought leadership unique to Pepperdine Graziadio and are taught by both faculty and industry experts. Executive Education participants who are ready to enhance and advance their career, and have successfully completed any certificate program, will be awarded a scholarship for any Graziadio degree program.

What type of leader do you want to be?

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Businesses in the U.S. and around the world have spent nearly 18 months adapting to new and unforeseen circumstances. With the U.S. and global workforce adapting and returning to work, 2022 will usher in a new era of change and optimism. Barring any unexpected catastrophes, individuals, businesses, and society can start to look forward to shaping their futures rather than passively coping with the present. No one can predict exactly what the world will look like, but the next normal will be radically different than today.

In an ever-changing world full of disruptions, one constant can be a person’s values. Getting your executive MBA at Pepperdine Graziadio prepares you as a leader by giving you a greater understanding of their values. Executive MBA students learn how to apply core values to their business model and management approach. Accountability, diversity, honesty, and other ethical business principles are ingrained in the curriculum and have real-world applications. We encourage future business leaders to pursue profits and advance responsible business practices without compromising integrity.

Confronting the challenges and embracing these opportunities requires more than training and expertise—it requires a strategic perspective, informed judgment, and a global vision for what’s possible. At Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, we are ready to help the business leaders of tomorrow take steps towards a prosperous future today—are you ready to journey with us?