Myth-Busting Executive Ed
Nov. 6, 2018
The challenges that enterprises face today are arguably more complex than at any other time in the past century. As a result, the benchmark for workforce talent and skill keeps climbing, and executive education is key to meeting it. While the name is nothing new, the concept and delivery of executive education, for those doing it right, has evolved dramatically, said Joe Carella, assistant dean of executive education and the head of Eller Executive Education. In a recent chat, he discussed what “doing it right” means at the Eller College, dashing misperceptions that many still associate with “executive ed.”
MYTH: Classes are built on traditional pedagogy. For many, “executive education” conjures some version of what they knew from their undergraduate or graduate experience: faculty lectures, readings, exams. In fact, Carella said, today’s executive education uses a much richer and more varied mix of instruction. A lecture will more likely be a “micro-lecture,” he noted, perhaps incorporated in a business simulation or a hackathon, with participants working against the clock in small teams. “Gamification” can also be a great way to get participants familiar with material before class, especially younger learners, he noted.
MYTH: Everything happens in class. The end goal of executive ed is behavioral change, Carella said, and that happens in the workplace, not just in class. In good executive education, coaching bridges those worlds. Just as a coach works with athletes to identify strengths and weaknesses and craft an individualized development plan, good executive education includes personal coaching and opportunities to apply learning in participants’ work environments. “The coach sits alongside their learning journey to give feedback, help them apply it and provide reinforcement, which is the key to real change,” Carella explained.
MYTH: It’s the continuation of an MBA. In Carella’s estimation, this is probably the most common misconception around executive education: that just as an MBA confers a general, well-rounded knowledge set for business leaders, executive education takes that same, wide-angle approach to advance business professionals to the next level. “An MBA is structured around disciplines,” Carella noted. “Finance, marketing, accounting. In contrast, Eller Executive Education takes an interdisciplinary approach to specific challenges. If the challenge is expanding to a new market, for example, the coursework will integrate a number of disciplines to solve that specific problem.”
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