New Manager

Mid-career executives make a beeline for global degrees

Chetna Mehra | Updated on August 26, 2014


After spending 14 years working in the marketing and communication domain in various organisations, like other senior-level executives, Rajeshree Naik was looking forward to a functional leadership position in her existing company. Having reached a point where it was easy to predict how her career would pan out, Naik decided to go back to the classroom to accelerate the process.

Soon, she was on her way to attend INSEAD Business School’s Leadership Programme for Senior Indian Executives (ILPSIE). Now, she was well set to climb up the corporate ladder. At least that’s what Naik had planned. Life, however, had other plans in store for her. While she had entered the programme as a mere corporate executive, she came out of it transformed.

“Before joining the programme, I was convinced I was prepared to take up a leadership role in my existing company,” says Naik. “It’s amazing how, just, one year, completely changed my views.”

Growing talent pool

Today, Naik is the co-founder of PING, a digital broadcasting solutions company. She credits the one year spent at INSEAD pursuing the ILPSIE, to have given a fillip to her entrepreneurial ambitions.

Like Naik, many senior and mid-level executives, are now opting for such programmes offered by top global institutions.

Top-tier foreign business schools are also interested in India more than ever before and are offering their programmes with the help of partner organisations in India. These organisations are executive education providers who collaborate with foreign universities and business schools to conduct executive programmes that are customised for senior and mid-level executives in emerging markets.

For instance, the ILPSIE, which started in 2011, is offered by INSEAD in India through a strategic partnership with Eruditus Executive Education, a company that collaborates with global business schools to launch programmes targeted at India’s growing leadership talent pool. The last 10-12 years had been a period of growth, in which companies flourished and needed manpower to sustain it.

Hence, mid-level employees were promoted to the next level, not because they deserved it but because these companies had no option except to promote them, to handle the growth spurt. While more people were inducted into the higher echelons, they weren’t equipped with the necessary skill sets to cope with the challenges of the position. This had led to a severe skill and leadership gap within the organisations at a senior level. Northwest Executive Education saw the opportunity in this and is now trying to leverage the opportunity by offering its module-based long-term (one-year) programmes for executives who want to upgrade themselves.

“Senior-level employees now are showing interest to upgrade themselves, and use those skills to get a better job, if the current employer doesn’t value those skills,” says Mohit Jain, co-founder and Director of Northwest Executive Education. One of the primary reasons for increasing popularity for such courses is the institutes’ brand name globally. “Even before I completed the programme this year, I got an opportunity to join Bata India as AVP and Business Head across five countries in the region,” says Devtosh Jha who is currently pursuing the LSE’s one-year progamme in management offered through Northwest. Jha comes with over 16 years of cross-country experience in sales. Most participants who are pursuing executive education programmes from foreign institutions feel programmes offered by top Indian business schools are not at par with the ones offered by foreign business schools. “I do have some colleagues who are pursuing the distance management programmes offered by some coveted biz schools, but when I get to discuss learning and things with them, I feel like I do have an edge,” says Deepa Nair, who, apart from working with Pearson Education is also pursuing a distance programme in management from the University of London.

Marketing presence

The executive education programmes offered by foreign universities are priced higher compared to their campuses but in India these programmes are offered at affordable prices. The IE Business School’s programme, Family Business and Entrepreneurship, conducted in six countries is priced less than ₹22.5 lakh. Its size is pegged at ₹500 crore , and is growing more than 20 per cent each year.

“India will soon have the largest and youngest workforce, and will experience a massive wave of urbanisation,” says Jeff Rosenthal, CEO of Centre for Executive Education at UC Berkeley. “There is a need for world-class business education as the country seeks to revive and globalise its economy and we want to play a role in developing India’s business elite.” It’s clearly a win-win situation for both the foreign institutions and Indian executives or prospective students.

While for the former, the large market is a draw, for the latter the return on investment in terms of a brand name to boast about on their CVs and the quality of education on offer, makes it a worthy pursuit.

Published on August 26, 2014

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