Beyond table stakes

by. Christopher Stevenson

Across the globe, there is a surge in MBA programs designed for working executives. Many of the most prestigious business schools have developed executive and global executive MBAs, known by insiders as EMBAs and GEMBAs, respectively. These programs often feature some of the highest quality faculty members and are convenient for busy executives, but those are not the biggest selling points to students. In fact, I’d argue they’re table stakes. If I were to lay down $80k or more for my MBA, I’d expect the faculty to be top tier. And considering the programs are titled “executive MBA,” I’d assume they would be designed around busy schedules. Instead of faculty or convenience, many prospective students decide which program they will attend based on who is likely to be their classmates. It’s not solely about academic prowess either. It’s about experience and perspective.

Let me explain. EMBA and GEMBA programs attract executives from a range of backgrounds and industries. A single class may have engineers, physicians, attorneys, supply chain experts, educators, finance executives, entrepreneurs, IT execs and more. They could represent dozens of sectors across the economy and be from anywhere around the globe. The more diverse and experienced the student body is, the better the classroom experience becomes. That is what differentiates one program from another—the richness of the learning environment because of the depth and breadth of experience of the students.

Make no mistake; exceptional faculty members are key to the process. They know how to facilitate discussions, ask the right questions and then get out of the way and let the idea exchange happen organically.

In many ways, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) and CUES’ Credit Union Executive Dialogue provides a similar opportunity. Outstanding faculty? Check. The 2014 session will be facilitated by Terence Roche of Cornerstone Advisors, Inc., who is well known to financial industry insiders for his experience in operations and strategy. Convenience? Check. The efficient, 1 ½ day format packs a wallop of information into a short timeframe that is respectful of the schedules of busy executives. Diverse student body? Check and double-check. The breadth and depth of the attendees reflects diversity in geography, job titles, education and experience. The sole parameter is that they all come from credit unions with assets greater than $500 million.

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