Should you sign up for that executive education program you’ve been considering for the last two years? Well to make this short, in a word, YES! But before you cut the check, make sure it’s right for you.
I had the opportunity to attend this year’s graduation ceremony for Harvard Business School’s Owner / President Management (OPM) Program. A friend of mine attended this three-year program (three weeks per year on campus) that is designed specifically for the midmarket owner/president. I’ve known three other business leaders to graduate from this program and they all rave about how it helped clarify their strategy, open their minds to new and innovative opportunities and extend their personal network. So Harvard’s OPM gets the “A”.
But what else is out there? Fortunately, there are a ton of terrific mid-level and executive programs available. The trick will be to find the right program for you, your immediate needs and your pocketbook.
What will be the Return on your Investment?
Let’s address the pocketbook first. Most of the executive education programs target Fortune 500 execs. That means they also target their pocket books. As you conduct your research, looks for ways to maximize your return on investment. Does the program translate well into the midmarket? See if they price according to company size. Ask them for creative payment options and make sure you get a few references before cutting any big checks.
Ask your Advisor what you need.
So is that program at Michigan (Business Week’s #3) or the Darden School at Virginia (Business Week’s #11) right for you or someone on your team? Could be, but challenge your thinking before you sign up. Talk to a member of your Board or a personal advisor on your personal development needs. You may love the Marketing program at Duke (#12) or the International Finance Program at London’s School of Business (#7), but your advisor might suggest a well rounded leadership program from a regional powerhouse like Drexel, George Washington, Indiana or UC Berkley.
Don’t forget your Next Generation of Leaders
Finally, look for development programs for your next generation of leaders. Build a culture of professional development. The company you are running today will not be the same company you and your team are running in two or three years. And your skill and competencies should not be the same either! Make executive education a part of your strategy. Encourage your leaders to read great business books, listen to podcasts while on the road and keep up with the trends in marketing, leadership and operational efficiencies.
You can bet the market leaders are doing just that!