As many people will know, EMBA students are established professionals in their fields, often in their late 30s at least. Many are also sponsored by their companies as a way to groom their potential as leaders.
What sets their training apart from other business-related courses? To prepare future leaders, one good component should be the chance to interact with CEOs and develop insights into business success. The Ivey Business School, a leading provider well-known for its rich collection of business cases, took such an approach by launching a recent visit to Silicon Valley for 27 students from its Hong Kong EMBA Class of 2014. The students met the school’s alumni working in the IT hub and learned about the hi-tech area’s unique business environment.
Professor Eric Morse, Associate Dean of Ivey, said they had received very positive feedback about this new module for the Hong Kong EMBA programme. “Our students were fascinated to learn how entrepreneurs succeed in this hotbed of innovation and global value creation,” he said.
The group’s itinerary included five days in Silicon Valley and four days in San Francisco, where students met representatives from companies including Achievers, Deutsche Bank Financial, Intel, Joyopolis, LinkedIn, Oracle, SAP, Wal-Mart Labs and ZenBanx. The students heard key insights about idea generation, startups, rapid growth, multi-round financing, exiting to IPO, organisation renewal, and ways to manage talent during explosive growth.
According to Professor Morse, following the trip, some participants were inspired to take the startup plans they had developed during the module to create new businesses with their classmates. Seeing with their own eyes how other enterprises operated can prove to be an enriching experience, besides building vital connections.
Role models can of course be found locally. Chinese University’s EMBA programme has produced a “Talking to CEOs” and the “New Thinking in Management" Radio and TV series broadcast on RTHK and a number of paid TV channels. It serves the wider purpose of leveraging the management experiences, insights and personal philosophies of top business leaders to foster creative thinking for the whole Hong Kong community. Students enrolled in the programme, however, will still benefit from coming face to face with the top decision-makers. CUHK and other local business schools have also run seminars featuring these people. Undoubtedly contacts with inspiring professionals can offer valuable lessons.
Likewise, it is common for influential or inspiring figures to be featured in assemblies at secondary schools. There is also a strong trend towards schools pairing students up with mentors who are professionals. The adult figures are widely believed to be a key source of guidance and support for youngsters. The same applies to mature EMBA students – they can benefit as much from people with perhaps as much wisdom as them but far more versatile experience.