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Learning is a Lifelong Journey: How Executives Can Benefit from an Advanced Degree

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An old turn of phrase states, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In layperson’s terms, this adage (that many argue isn’t true) means an individual who is set in their ways can face challenges in gaining new skills or establishing new habits.

However, while this may be true for some, the opportunity to pursue a unique venture or learn innovative techniques makes life exciting for many individuals. Many professionals today are known to “career hop” frequently throughout their lifetimes. This is especially true for individuals working in the business sector—with various opportunities becoming available as new industries come to fruition, up-and-coming industries expand, and matured industries keep their employment steady.

Although, when a business professional is at the executive level, how much more is there to learn? You’re at the top for a reason. While this may be true, being in executive leadership serves as one of the best opportunities to learn. As it’s said, it can be lonely at the top, and sometimes that translates into being disconnected from learning opportunities. Whether learning from younger talent, the chief executive officer, or a colleague on the same level, there is always something new to learn.

Throughout this feature, we’ll explore the following:

  • The benefits of an advanced degree for executives
  • Ways executives can learn internally from their organization
  • Tips for executives, from executives

Advanced Education for Executives

We’ll examine how executives can benefit from an executive-level education.

Connection + Collaboration

A key advantage for executives pursuing a graduate degree is the opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. Executive programs, like Pepperdine Graziadio’s Executive MBA (EMBA) and Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) MBA programs, offer intimate cohort settings and personalized faculty mentorship that foster a learning environment built around collaboration and connection. Like the business environment, establishing rich relationships allows executives to collaborate, innovate, and learn from each other.

Specialized Curriculum

For high-level managers and executives: Graziadio’s Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) is a 19-month program to transform business professionals into visionary leaders that can handle solving the most complex challenges businesses face today. Program benefits include:

  • Flexible schedules to accommodate busy executives: The Executive MBA program meets approximately once every three weeks.
  • Applied Strategic Research Project (ASRP): Integral to the EMBA program, Graziadio’s ASRP allows students to select a single business entity (including their own) for an intensive research project, culminating into their final capstone project.
  • Tenured, industry-experienced faculty: Members of Graziadio’s faculty are renowned thought leaders with robust industry portfolios and significant academic accomplishments.
  • Global Immersion: Advance your leadership on a global scale with an eight-day international business intensive.

For executives at the top: Graziadio’s Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) MBA is the only program in the world curated for senior and C-suite executives as well as business owners. It’s strategically designed to challenge top-level executives charged with organizational goal-setting, strategic decision-making, and bottom-line results. Key highlights of this program include:

  • Experiential curriculum that courses the globe: The immersive PKE MBA program includes a four-day executive workshop, a two-day ethics and law session, and an eight-day international residential session.
  • Strategic Management Project: Directly apply your research to your current organization through an integrated Strategic Management Project that addresses the fundamental learning, productivity, and quality of your corporate culture and overarching business strategy.
  • Boardroom learning: Cohorts meet monthly in boardroom-style classes to cultivate collaborative learning and diverse industry experiences.
  • Mentorship from the best: Assigned to each PKE MBA cohort is an executive mentor who acts as chair and advisor to provide guidance throughout the program.

A Rich Executive Network

Graziadio has a global community of over 48,000+ alumni, touting an impressive network of professionals who work at top companies, including Disney, Deloitte, Amazon, Wells Fargo, and Boeing.

Education Outside the Classroom
Outside of an advanced degree, it’s critical to recognize learning can happen in the day-to-day of your organization.

Peers in Business
Whether it be peers within your organization or professionals you meet along the way, the marketplace is full of sprawling opportunities to learn. Focus on connecting with key executives and leaders in your organization better understand their functions and how you can support their teams. A business is only as good as its leadership—meaning businesses tend to perform better when the leadership is aligned.

Junior Employees
Employees throughout an organization have some of the best insights to offer—regardless of their level on the org chart. Whether you manage a full-fledged team or a few key employees, lean into the opportunity to learn from them. Instead of constantly telling them what to do, ask them what they suggest. You may be surprised by what insights they have to share.

Key Stakeholders and Partners
Every business has stakeholders. Stakeholders can frequently offer insights, whether it be partners, customers, an executive board, or anything in between. Use your key partners and stakeholders to learn—it will most likely benefit both parties greatly.

Tips from Executives, for Executives
Lastly, let’s look at some critical tips from executives that have provided them with guidance.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions: No one person knows everything. Questions are never dumb. Many individuals have the same questions, so bringing them to the forefront better clarifies for everyone.
  • It doesn’t matter the title; everyone has something to offer: Executives commonly overlook insights and advice from the talent that sits lower in the company hierarchal structure. If someone has a solid idea, it shouldn’t matter who it comes from; it solely matters that it works.
  • Perfect leadership doesn’t exist: It can often be portrayed in movies and TV (Succession, anyone?) that executive leadership maintains the ideological qualities of a perfect business tycoon. It’s simply not true. Measure yourself against what’s realistic and what’s within your control.
  • Have a trusty righthand: It’s vital to have one (or a few) reliable employees you can count on regardless of the circumstances. If you properly nurture those relationships and treat employees respectfully, it will pay for itself.

To conclude, it’s never too late to expand your business knowledge, whether through on-the-job interaction or through an advanced degree. If you’re interested in the latter, Graziadio offers world-class executive programs tailored to your experience.